Bo Bo Gyi
And His Advice to His Granddaughter

I met my family in Myanmar a decade ago. The family consists of the parents and their three children, who are my granddaughters. Ti Ti is the oldest of the three. She has a section on my website, College Days. Her two younger siblings when we first met. Snow was 4, and Fatty was 2 when we first met. This is a photo of Snow and Fatty in their preschool daycare.

Snow and Fatty

A couple of weeks ago, Fatty turned 13. She is now a teenager. Fatty celebrated her birthday while the Snow and their parents were on a business trip in Mandalay. This is a photo of her visiting the Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay.

Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay

Neither Fatty nor Snow remember our time together a decade ago. On my second journey to see my family, Ti Ti told them about me and instructed them about what to call me when I arrived for a visit. My name was Papa Al. Snow accepted my name, but Fatty didn’t. When I arrived, Ti Ti and Snow used Papa Al. However, Fatty has never used that nomenclature. I have always been Bo Bo Gyi, ဘိုးဘိုးကြီး, which means hallowed grandfather.

Bo Bo Gyi is a guardian spirit in Theravada Buddhism, called a nat. Nats appear as humans but are spirits regardless of looking like a person. Bo Bo Gyi has been reincarnated many times over the millennia. He is the preeminent nat and is seen as an elderly man carrying a cane due to his age. Additionally, he is an alchemist and can turn an ordinary piece of metal into gold.

Fatty had her mother send me this photo of them at a butea monosperma tree. Within Theravada Buddhism, it is believed that the Buddha sat beneath a butea tree to achieve enlightenment.

Butea tree

Most people call it the flame of the forest due to the bright orange and red flowers. You can see Moh Moh and the girls holding the flowers.

As Bo Bo Gyi, this is my message to Fatty now that she is a teenager.

Fatty, you are now a teenager. I have watched your two older sisters transition into being teenagers. As Bo Bo Gyi, I am proud of them, and I am also proud of you. I want you to be like the fame of the forest and to stand out in your family, school, and community. Your parents have taught Ti Ti and Snow how to be a flame of the forest. Your parents have led the way and shown you what you must do to succeed. Life is about giving and sharing. It isn’t about being self-centered. I have many mantras, but I wish you to remember this one as you journey down the yellow brick road of life. It is in giving that we get. Enjoy your journey like a flame of the forest.