K Za Win, whose poems have appeared in Myanmar magazines since 2004, was killed in a peaceful protest in Monywa on 3 March 2021. 

 

K Za Win was one of the university students who rallied from Mandalay to Yangon in the 2015 campaign, “Long March for Educational Reforms.” Consequently he spent one year and a month in prison, during which he published “My Reply to Ramond.” 

 

A LETTER FROM A JAIL CELL 

 

 

Dear Father,

the River, whose stomach 

was cut open,  

has declared war 

on our tiny house on the bank, hasn’t she?

Right in front of the house 

you must be looking out for someone 

who will help you with 

embankment poles

to straighten the river,

to fill her holes with 

sandbags.

In the murky water, 

which rises like a bamboo lance, 

you must be gazing at 

the sesame plantation—

laden with fruits 

ready for harvest.

You must be thinking 

a fistful of rice in your mouth 

is about to be fingered out. 

Maybe you will find solace 

in religion, contemplating 

our five foes.

Maybe you will 

think of the void 

a son’s labour can fill.

One son, two daughters and one son; 

The eldest is a poet in prison, 

the first daughter, a school teacher, 

the second, a graduate in the kitchen, 

the youngest, a student.

Your poet son, 

is he even employable 

as the dah you use to clear weed?

Forgive nothing, Father. 

Nothing!

“Son, Pho Chan,

why do I hear noises behind you?”, 

you asked on the phone. 

“I am at the bus stop

to post a manuscript to a journal,” I lied.

From your liar son in the dock 

to thugs who sweeten you 

with the tips of their tongues, 

“To our benefactor peasants …”,

because they want to have you from behind,

hate them all, Father. 

Hate them all. 

A thief is 

unarmed.

A thug is 

armed to the teeth.

If thieves are ungovernable,

if thugs are ungovernable, 

what’s the point of government? 

Whatever happens to the jungles

whatever happens to the mountains 

whatever happens to the rivers 

they don’t care. 

They love the country 

just the way they love to grate a coconut, 

from inside out, 

for coconut milk.

Plinth by plinth, to make their throne taller,

they will point their guns at the urna 

on the Lord Buddha’s forehead.  

Their class is that crass.

To cuss at that class

if your religion forbids you 

allow me to lose that religion.

I will turn the air blue 

on your behalf.

Maybe you don’t know yet. 

Your son was 

set up 

for demanding the so-called police 

not to harm ordinary citizens. 

Someday 

your son, who is not a thief

nor a thug 

will become employable, 

good as your dah that clears weed. 

For now, Father, 

keep gazing at the plantation 

you’d ploughed with your naked shoulders. 

Keep singing 

the anthem of 

The Peasant Union. 

 

 

 

Yours ever,

K Za Win 

Cell 1, Section 10

Thayawaddy Prison 

*****************************************

 

ေကဇဝင္း

 

ေထာင္ထဲက စာ

______________

 

 

 

 

သို႔..

အေဖ

လူတခ်ိဳ႕ေၾကာင့္

ဝမ္းဗိုက္ေပါက္ထြက္သြားတဲ႔ျမစ္ဟာ

ကမ္းနဖူးက အိမ္ကေလးကို

ရန္ရွာေနျပီမဟုတ္လား အေဖ။

အိမ္ကေလးရဲ႕ေရွ႕နားက

ျမစ္ကမ္းပါးမွာ

ေမ်ာတိုင္စိုက္ဖို႔

ေရစာျဖည့္ဖို႔

သဲအိတ္ခ်ဖို႔

တေယာက္ေယာက္ကို

အေဖ ေမ်ွာ္ေနမွာပဲ။

ဝါးလံုးထိုးတက္လာတဲ႔

ျမစ္ေရညစ္ညစ္မွာ

ပ်စ္ခဲေနေအာင္ လဲက်ေနမယ့္

ရိတ္သိမ္းရလုနီး

ေရသြင္းႏွမ္းခင္းေတြကို ေငးၾကည့္ျပီး

ဝါးေနဆဲ ထမင္းလုတ္ကို

ကေလာ္အထုတ္ခံရသလို ျဖစ္ေနမလား

ရန္သူမ်ိဳးငါးပါးအေၾကာင္းကို ဆင္ျခင္ျပီး

အေဖျမတ္ႏိုးရာဘာသာတရားနဲ႔ ေျဖေတြးေနမလား

လစ္ဟာေနတဲ႔ တေယာက္စာလုပ္အားကိုပဲ

ေတာင့္တမ်ား ေတာင့္တေနမလား။

သား ၁၊ သမီး ၂၊ သား ၁ မွာ

သား ၁-က အခ်ဳပ္က် ကဗ်ာဆရာ

သမီး ၂-က

ေက်ာင္းဆရာမ နဲ႔ ဘြဲ႕ရထမင္းခ်က္

ေနာက္ထပ္ သား ၁-က ေက်ာင္းသား

အေဖ့လက္ထဲက ကိုင္းခုတ္ဓားေလာက္မွ

အေဖ့သားႀကီးကဗ်ာဆရာက

"အား"ျဖစ္ေစပါရဲ႕လား အေဖ။

ဘာကိုမွ

မခြင့္လႊတ္ပါနဲ႔ အေဖေရ

"သားေရ.. ဖိုးခ်မ္း

ေနာက္ကလူသံေတြ ဆူညံလွေခ်လား"

ဖုန္းထဲက အေဖ့ေမးခြန္းကို

"စာမူပို႔ရင္း

ကားမွတ္တိုင္မွာ ေရာက္ေနလို႔" လို႔

လိမ္ညာမိတဲ႔

တရားရံုးထဲက အေဖ့သားက အစ

"ေက်းဇူးရွင္ေတာင္သူဦးႀကီးမ်ား"လို႔

လွ်ာဖ်ားကေလးနဲ႔ ျမွဴျမွဴၿပီးမွ

ေက်ာကို ခ်ခ်သြားတဲ႔

ေခတ္အဆက္ဆက္ရဲ႕ ဓားျပေကာင္ေတြအဆံုး

အားလံုးကို မုန္းပစ္လိုက္ပါ အေဖ။

လက္နက္ မပါဘဲ

ျပည္သူ႔ဥစၥာကို ခိုးဝွက္ေတာ့ သူခိုး

လက္နက္ကိုင္ထားျပီး

ျပည္သူ႔ဥစၥာကို လုယက္ေတာ့ ဓားျပ

သူခိုး အစိုးမရ

ဓားျပ အစိုးမရ-နဲ႔

အေဖတို႔မွာ ဘယ္မလဲ အစိုးရ။

ေတာေတြ ဘာျဖစ္ျဖစ္

ေတာင္ေတြ ဘာျဖစ္ျဖစ္

ျမစ္ေတြ ဘာျဖစ္ျဖစ္

အုန္းသီးျခစ္သလို

တိုင္းျပည္ကို ခ်စ္ျပၿပီး

အဆီအႏွစ္ကို ခိုးစုပ္တဲ႔လူတန္းစားေတြ

သူတို႔ပလႅင္ကို တရစ္ခ်င္းျမွင့္ဖို႔ဆို

ဗုဒၶသင္းက်စ္မွာေတာင္ ေသနတ္ေျပာင္းနဲ႔ထစ္မွတ္ျပီး

ညစ္ပတ္ခဲ႔ၾက လူတန္းစားေတြ..

အဲဒီလူတန္းစားေတြကို ဆဲေရးဖို႔

အေဖ့ဘာသာတရားက အေဖ့ကို ခြင့္မျပဳရင္

အဲဒီဘာသာတရားကေန ေက်ာခိုင္းျပီး

အေဖ့အစား

သား ဆဲေရးပါရေစ အေဖ။

အခုထိ

အေဖမသိေသးေပမယ့္

အေဖ့သားႀကီးဟာ

လူေကာင္းသူေကာင္းေတြအေပၚ အၾကမ္းမဖက္ဖို႔

ရဲတပ္ဖြဲ႔ဆိုတာႀကီးကို ေတာင္းဆိုရင္းက

မတရားတဲ႔ လံၾကဳတ္ပုဒ္မေတြနဲ႔

ေထာင္ထဲမွာ အခ်ဳပ္က်ေနေလရဲ႕။

တေန႔မေတာ့

သူခိုးမဟုတ္တဲ႔ အေဖ့သားက

ဓားျပမဟုတ္တဲ႔ အေဖ့သားက

အေဖ့အတြက္

အားလည္း ျဖစ္ရပါေစမယ္ အေဖ

ဓားလည္း ျဖစ္ရပါေစမယ္ အေဖ။

အခုေနမေတာ့

အေဖ့ပခံုးနဲ႔ ထြန္ယက္ထားျပီး

ေရလႊမ္းသြားတဲ႔ ယာေျမျပင္ေတြကို

ေငးရီၾကည့္ေမာရင္း

ေတာင္သူလယ္သမားသမဂၢသီခ်င္းကိုပဲ

ဆိုေနရစ္ပါဦး အေဖေရ..။ ။

မွ

သား - ေကဇဝင္း

သာယာဝတီဗဟိုအက်ဥ္းေထာင္

ေဆာင္ ၁၀ / ခန္း ၁

 

 

 

 

 

K Za Win was born to a peasant family in Latpadaung near Monywa in 1982. Latpadaung is a contentious site where several villages were displaced by Wanbao Copper Mining Ltd. of China. The Myanmar police’s violent repression of Latpadaung villagers’ struggle against the Chinese farm in the 2010s revealed the dark side of “the democratic transition” of Myanmar.

 

ko ko thett (translator) is a Burma-born poet, poetry editor, translator, and anthologist of contemporary Burmese poetry. After a whirlwind tour of Asia, Europe, and North America for two decades, thett happily resettled in Sagaing in his native Burma-Myanmar in 2017. Monywa, where many poets have passed prematurely, is a hotbed for political and poetical dissent, and is the capital city of Sagaing Division in Myanmar. As of 2021 thett lives in Norwich, UK. He writes in both Burmese and English. 

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