My Karate Granddaughter

In December, I will return to Myanmar for the third time in the past six years. My first trip was during winter break in 2013. Since I had nearly a month without teaching, I went there in hopes of interviewing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Lady. I failed to get an interview.

However, I lucked out and discovered my family who lives near Inle Lake. On my first trip, Moh Moh was my tour guide in that area of Myanmar. She had to stop at her home for some paperwork about where I was going next after leaving that area. Interestingly, her oldest daughter, Ti Ti, was home for winter break. Ti Ti was nine at the time. When we went into their living room, Ti Ti greeted me, “Hi! My name is Ti Ti. Do you want to play some games?” There we sat for forty-five minutes playing Scrabble as we laughed and talked. Spending less than an hour with Ti Ti was long enough to realize that I had met my granddaughter.

I also met Ko Ko, her father, and her two younger sisters, Snow and Fatty. Her sisters were in a daycare and prekindergarten school.

While I was delighted to meet Snow, who was four, and Fatty, who was two, they were too young to remember me. However, nearly two years ago, I returned to see my family again. Ti Ti was thirteen, Snow was eight, and Fatty was six. The younger two had heard their parents and Ti Ti talk about me and were excited to meet this stranger from America. I have written about my second visit many times. It was a time of fun, laughter, and enjoyment that any grandparent understands. For example, Ti Ti is an excellent magician. Snow quietly expresses her feelings. However, quietness isn’t a virtue that Fatty possesses.

Fatty, whose English at that time was somewhat limited, communicated with her eyes, but when she would see me she would yell, “Bo Bo Gyi.” Bo Bo Gyi was a Buddhist nat, which is similar to a saint in the West. He was especially caring towards young children. When I gave my three daughters gifts, the card on the gift was signed Bo Bo Gyi as if he gave them the gift. When Fatty would yell Bo Bo Gyi, I would tickle her. Two seconds later, she would wind up in my arms. Then with her dark and charming eyes, she would look up at me as if to say, “Aren’t we having fun? I love you, and I know that you love me.” Then she would flutter her eyes. How often do you think that I remember that experience?

However, that was two years ago, and Fatty has changed since that last visit.

When I watched Fatty practicing karate, I thought about two things. The first was what Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” My next thought was that I better be prepared when I return during winter break from teaching in six months. However, Fatty assured me that this is what she would do when she saw me again and yell, “Bo Bo Gyi.” I hope that she flutters her eyes.