26 January, 2012

Bagan Ends with What my Heart Wanted

This 5 part story starts with "Unexpected Kindness In Bagan" below

Later, back at the guesthouse, I saw how much money I had left and thought about giving it to my friend. I ran into the two women I saw in Mandalay who would not bring the $2 bill, surprised to see me. I was cordial and said I came back to help the boy(who helped me) and his family it was already a clear intent at that point. Knowing that they share everything they have as a family. It seemed so extravagant to use my remaining money on solitary travel, now that I know them and saw what they face everyday. A chance encounter allowed me to wake up, yet again. I could give them 205,000 Kyat (about $250) I had left, asking my friend if this would help when we were talking at a temple. It was then, that he told me his appendix operation used the 115,000 kyat they had saved for a used motorcycle, and he was so happy and grateful. I kept wondering in my head, what if they did not have the money for his operation. Just that afternoon, Mom had to bicycle to a far away village to chop trees for money, he told me when we talking at temple. At no time did he ever give me the impression that they needed money. They were very friendly, void of any requests, and certainly casual in interaction. It would help him when he goes to college which is far from the village they live in, and for his family to get around for work too far for a bicycle. You know they often ride three on a bike.

I decided to bring the money to dinner that his family wanted to prepare for me to give it to his father, so they could buy a used motorcycle or whatever they wanted. I put no restrictions on my gift. He and his brother picked me up on the old worn out motorcycle they had borrowed with no lights on it. And this time Mom and family were not embarrassed to have me eat at the house instead of in the garden, and she could try out the rice cooker and a neighbor told her what works best for ratios with their rice. She made my favorite fried fish and hot peanuts along with 10 other Burmese dishes all prepared with firewood. We talked and ate, my friend and I, while the family had eaten earlier this time. The youngest boy of 4, played a drum with great precision and joy, and kept us laughing. I had the following day until three to see a few more out of the way temples I missed before, but I told him I had no demands. It is up to you, he would say. Time was flying by but this time I felt this was a natural ending to what my heart needed to do. In the morning we met and I bought him over a year’s worth of floss, and his Mom a half-kilo of curry powder she could never afford. I knew he did not chew betel nor smoke or drank, and could keep his teeth if he took care of them. In my head I am thinking about when I return to help him with a dental care and make sure he went to college. The rest of his family it is too late with all the betel they chew, even his 24 yr old brother. My friend had the most opportunity with his morals and goals with his college planned to help change his family’s future.

My last day we went to his father’s old temple where he had ordained, at my friend’s age. It had extensive underground caves to meditate in, some even tiled. It had fallen from popularity as the monks matured, but the whole area is very devout, but I feel that economics dictate that more people had to work or sell to tourists to eat. I would like to ordain there, because it is away from the tourists and could offer me time to develop my Jhanas. We sat on a quiet bench and said our good byes in a relaxed manor knowing I would return to at least see him follow his dreams. We sat down to meditate in the temple to wrap it up, and he gave Thanaka gift he bought. He made the whole trip special with his natural friendliness and made it into a real human experience rather than a photo journey. It really was not a sad goodbye, we both knew that the world just got a little smaller or my family bigger! I have chosen not to show a photo the family out of respect. END

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin