Two Poems
By Two Ladies

Kaung, my web administrator, lives in Yangon, Myanmar and emailed some photos of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who often is referred to as the Lady. He knows my family who live near Taunggyi. He has heard from them and from me that nearly seven years ago that I journeyed to Myanmar in an attempt to interview the Lady and failed. I had emailed people for over six months before I left the States. My emails were merely a request to forward my email to Aung San Suu Kyi if they had her email address. Even though I tried to contact her prior to traveling there, I continued to try when I arrived in Yangon. I talked to Min Ko Naing over lunch and then interviewed him.

Regardless of all my efforts, I still failed. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my tour of Myanmar. While I was near Inle Lake, I had a local tour guide named Moh Moh. One day, she had to stop at her home to pick up a form that outlined where I would be going after leaving Inle Lake, who my tour guide would be, and my hotel. Moh Moh said that I could meet Ti Ti, her nine-year-old daughter, who was at home on winter break. When we walked into their living room, I was greeted by her nine year old, “Hi. My name is Ti Ti. Do you want to play some games?”

We are playing Scrabble.

We played Scrabble for 45-minutes, but we laughed and chatted more than we played the game. When I left, I realized that I met a young lady. That young lady was the one that bonded my American family to her family in Myanmar.

This is Fatty and Snow at their pre-school that we visited. Snow was four. Look at her determination as she listened to her teacher.

This is Moh Moh with Fatty and Snow.

This is Ko Ko, Ti Ti, and Moh Moh at their home.

Before I returned the second time, Ti Ti wanted to write a poem about our relationship, but she asked whether I would finish it. I refused and suggested that we both write our own poems about the love between a granddaughter and her grandfather. This is Ti Ti’s poem.

Poem to PaPa Al

All humans need friends and surrounding.
There will be many people around you,
Among them there is only one, best friend.
Good friends will always stand beside you
And receive victory the whole life with you.

I know that there is nothing more powerful
than friendship.
Days and weeks have been going very fast
And seasons have changed
But our friendship will not change.
Leaves are falling down
And also the rain but our attachment lasts.

Years were change and four years
Have gone very fast, and I still
Thought that we just met yesterday.
So, I thought that our friendship is
One of the strongest attachment.

That poem was written by a young Lady who was thirteen at the time. Ti Ti is talented academically. Additionally, she is also extremely caring. When I have described Ti Ti in articles or to my friends and family in the States, I call her a junior mother. She is exactly like her mother. On my second trip, we went to Ocean, which is like an American department store. On the top floor, there is a restaurant. We all sat down to have lunch but not Ti Ti. She made sure her two younger sisters had menus and took care of all their needs. I sat there and marveled at her maturity.

The following is just the first stanza of my poem. I tend to write exceptionally long poems, which rival in length Homer’s Iliad, which is over fifteen thousand line.

A Tribute to a Young Lady

I call you my granddaughter
Which you are but why?
I went to Burma to visit the Lady
And what did I discover?
I discovered a beautiful young lady who smiles.

Four years later, I returned to Myanmar and spent time with family. By then, Ti Ti’s two younger sisters were old enough to understand who the stranger from America was. Ti Ti told them that my name was PaPa Al. Snow, the middle child, accepted my name. Fatty, the baby, refused to use that name. She told the world that my name was Bo Bo Gyi. That name means great grandfather in the Burmese language and is also the name of a Buddhist nat. A nat is somewhat like what we call a saint.

While on my second visit, I went to the headquarters of the National League for Democracy in Yangon, which is Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party. I had a nice meeting with Dr. Myo Nyunt, Chairperson of Regional Executive Committee.

I told Dr. Nyunt that I would like to have him forward my request to the Lady if he deemed my request was important. During our meeting, I discovered that he was a neurosurgeon. I told him about my falling off a ladder and hitting my head on a concrete wall, which resulted in a subdural hematoma (traumatic brain injury). He fully understood my dance with death. In addition, I give him two gifts for the Lady. One was wooden sculpture of Don Quixote, and the other was a Christmas ornament.

However, Kaung’s email caused me to realize that Ti Ti isn’t the only poet in Myanmar. The Lady, Aung San Kyi, is also a poet. Kaung sent me her poem.

Now, to be honest, foreign languages aren’t my forte even though I know four languages in addition to English. Therefore, this probably is not a precise translation from Burmese into English. However, I tried the best I could to give my English readers an exact translation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s poem.

I discovered recently that you love my country
But especially your family who live near Inle Lake
I have read some of you literally work
Especially, your family tour at the end of last year.

I noted that you, Moh Moh and Ko Ko are again
Planning another excursion, which starts in Yangon
Then your caravan of laughter and fun will journey
To Mawlamyine, which once was called Moulmein.

However, before reaching the Great Pagoda
Your family will spend time at the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.
It is probably easier for you to say the Golden Rock.
Moh Moh and Ko Ko mentioned visiting the Myeik Archipelago.

They also want to stop at Sane Let Tin, which has a mini zoo.
Depending on my schedule, it would be fun for me
To join your caravan of laughter and fun.
It would be nice to chat with PaPa Al or Bo Bo Gyi.

I was pleased to discover your respect for President Obama.
I really admire him; he is a good and honest person.
Maybe, if he was free, he and his family can join us
As we see parts of my country.

I also noted Moh Moh wrote a note to you about being a family.
We are all from the same family, the human family.
We need to be more inclusive; I understand that
Your family has given you much happiness and joy.

Perhaps, I should give Ti Ti the Lady’s poem for a more precise translation. This is what Ti Ti looks like today. She was award first prize in math in the entire State of Shan.

If the Lady joins are caravan of laughter and joy in just over a year from now, she, Ti Ti, and I could spend our evenings on our tour sharing poems that we have written while on our trip as a family. If we could get President Obama and his family to join our caravan, it would be ideal for me personally. I could interview both the Lady and the former president on our trip together.

One closing comment. Bobby Kennedy said, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” I’m not sure that I’ll be able to be successful in adding the Lady, President Obama, and his family to my family’s tour. However, life without dreaming dreams would be a waste. Myanmar changed my life even though I have never met the Lady, but I dream on….