Click here to Download Miss Burma PDF Book by Charmaine Craig Language English having PDF Size 2.1 MB and No of Pages 333.
Poor Kerob “the Armenian Tiger” Abdulian, or whatever his name was. In a swollen gymnasium that reeked of feet and stale tea and wood rot, seventeen-year-old Benny fought him for the crown in the Province of Bengal’s Intercollegiate Boxing Championship, and never had one young man’s face been so rearranged physically in the name of another’s metaphysical problems.
Miss Burma PDF Book by Charmaine Craig
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Before going down in the first round, the Armenian took a left to the chin for the loneliness Benny still suffered because of his parents’ deaths. He took another left to the chin for a world that allowed such things to happen, and another just for the word “orphan,” which Benny hated more than any anti-Semitic slur and which his classmates cruelly, proudly threw at him.
The Armenian received a right to his gut for all the mothers and fathers, the aunts and uncles and grandparents and guardians—colonized citizens of the “civilized” British Empire, all of them—who banished their young to boarding schools like St. James in India. But none of these jabs could vanquish the Tiger.
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No, what sent the Tiger to the mat and all the spectators to their feet was an explosion of blows brought on by something Benny glimpsed in the stands: the entrance of a young, dark St. James’ novice called Sister Adela, to whom Benny had hardly spoken, yet who—until today —had arrived precisely on time for each of his fights.
He took her presence at his matches as some kind of exercise of devotion on her part—to him or to the school (and by extension God?), he wasn’t sure. Now, as the referee began to shout over the collapsed Armenian, Sister Adela positioned herself in her white habit near a group of students whose raucous display of support for Benny only illumined her stillness, the alertness of her black gaze presiding over him.
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But when the match was abruptly called and Benny struggled to free himself of the spectators flooding the ring, she slipped out of the gymnasium, unnoticed by all but him. That evening, the proud schoolmaster hosted a feast in Benny’s honor. Leg of lamb, roasted potatoes, trifle for pudding.
Those were the Western dishes that Benny could hardly taste because he was directing all of his attention to the tip of Sister Adela’s fork, which she repeatedly used to probe her uneaten dinner while stooped over her corner table with the other nuns. Only once did she meet and hold Benny’s gaze, her focus on him so sharp and accusatory that he felt every flaw in his face.
Especially its swollen upper lip, the result of the one right hook the Armenian Tiger had managed to land. Was she angry at him? As if to deprive him of an answer to that question, her father came to take her away the next morning. She left in a deep pink sari that clung to her hips and set off the impossibly black strands of hair falling from the knot at the base of her neck. Miss Burma PDF Book
The most elegant neck Benny had ever seen. A queen’s neck, he told himself over the following few weeks, as he tried and failed to assert himself in the ring. Remarkably, his desire to fight had followed Sister Adela right out of the stands. The word was one pole of an axis around which Dickens Jr. seemed to pivot, the other pole being “loyalty,” as in: “their loyalty to the British Crown is beyond question.”
And “their loyalty and courage have been in refreshing contrast to the dacoity and unfaithfulness of the Burmese.” Were not oppression and loyalty, Benny wondered, the twin forces that still kept the Karens in a kind of limbo—caught between outright destruction and advancement of any meaningful kind?
Even in Dickens’s time, the Karens had “rendered signal service” to the British government, which had received their loyalty with “only scurvy acknowledgement”—so much so that they were “not even known at all” in England. The Karens: the chronically oppressed loyalists spinning continually in the void of an apathetic realm. On a March morning several weeks later.Miss Burma PDF Book
Benny was introduced by the inspector at the wharf to a new colleague and fellow officer named Saw Lay —“Saw,” Benny knew by now, being the Karen for “Mister.” “This chap was a national football hero until recently,” the inspector raved. It was fitting, Benny thought, that the inspector had hired a Karen to fill in for the recently transferred Indian.
But also curious that a Karen could rise to national stature as an athlete. Perhaps the British domination of the Burmans had allowed for such a shift in the order of things. Saw Lay was a serious sort, the same height as Benny, though leaner, lankier, less apt to meet others in the eye. He spoke English impeccably, and was terribly unimpressed with his renown—“It’s only football,” he liked to say.
If it weren’t for the nimble way he leaped up onto the launches, Benny would have doubted his football prowess, so unassumingly did Saw Lay stride up and down the wharf each day. And yet, there was nothing passive about him. His every infrequent look, his every measured word, burned with intelligence and intensity—and rage. Miss Burma PDF Book
A steadying rage, Benny thought, just the opposite of his own explosiveness. The new officer had taken a flat across from Queen’s Park, which abutted the Sule Pagoda and the colonnaded municipal office in Fytche Square, and often after work they would stroll through the gardens, seeking shelter from the heat under a variety of blooming trees.
Benny asking questions and then retreating into silence while Saw Lay began to speak. He began to wear a sarong, which more than once fell to his ankles, to the village women’s hilarity, and which he rather enjoyed plodding in down to the stream, along with naked Louisa, to dump buckets of icy water over their heads each evening.
He began to rely on the soothing babble of women visiting with Khin as he drifted into sleep each night. He even began to laugh at others teasing him about his routine mee ga thah thaw (his snoring, which apparently projected across the village, waking even the roosters in the morning). Their teasing struck him as a kind of spiritual practice—an insistence that none was above being teased. Miss Burma PDF Book Download
As did the stunning specificity of their frequent obscenities—“Aw pwa lee!” (“Eat vagina!”), or “Na kee poo thoo!” (“Your asshole is black!”). Even the marital bond between these Karen villagers (literally, as he had it, “the strings that tie a marriage together”), though utterly strong, seemed to leave space for responsibility for others in it.
“Come to me,” Benny still whispered to Khin in the darkness, and she did come to him, and yet wasn’t entirely his, as she had once been. Her ears were pricked for others in need, her face turned to the night. And as the knot of their intimacy vaguely loosened, she seemed to thrive in this highly democratic community, establishing herself near the top of its particular system of hierarchy.
Here, the elders were revered, the young expected to serve anyone older or perceived to be a leader—a teacher, say, or a minister, or a military adviser. Because Khin’s months in Akyab and Rangoon had taught her about sanitation, about the importance of sterilization, she—in addition to never hesitating to instruct teenage girls on how more vigilantly to tidy their hut. Miss Burma PDF Book Download
Or cook their supper—was soon being referred to as tha ra mu (teacher) and asked to heal others’ sick children, even to assist with others’ difficult deliveries. Sometimes she would wake in the middle of the night and murmur the names of herbs of which she’d dreamed, and in the morning she would leave him with sleeping Louisa in order to hunt for the plants.
Muttering about how she was sure the cooling properties of such-and-such would bring down so-and-so’s fever. When he asked if this was something she’d done before—healing the sick, having premonitions about medicinal herbs—she blinked at him as if to ask, Is any of this something you’ve done before?
Their easy adaptation to the present made him almost question if they had ever had a past to leave (something emphasized uncannily by the absence in Karen language, he now realized, of a past or future tense; “In the era of yesterday,” someone would say, “heart disease takes my wife away from me.” Miss Burma PDF Book Download
Saw Lay looked at him out of the corner of his eye. They were sitting down by the stream in the evening, just as they had been before Saw Lay had left for Mandalay, and, again, Benny watched his friend take refuge in finding stones with his fingers. There was a certain shyness about him, Benny thought. A reservedness about speaking directly, about meeting another’s exposed eyes.
Could it be this was why his friend had never found it in himself to take a wife? “When did you first become aware of them?” Saw Lay asked now. He sent a flat speckled stone over the surface of the stream. “I’m not sure,” he answered. “I remember thinking the silence had gone on too long. Being afraid to open my eyes.
And then the shock of seeing them, in a kind of ring around the Japanese and the tree where I was bound. All of the Karens—the entire village. And Khin with the children at the front—Johnny over her shoulder, Louisa pressed to her leg, with her gorgeous curls and deep eyes. And that terrifying expression on Khin’s face.” “Describe it to me.” Miss Burma PDF Book Download
The nakedness of Saw Lay’s request made Benny look at him with a start. Had he imagined something personal, a long-dormant urgency, in his friend’s tone? “It’s that way she sometimes looks,” Benny began tentatively, but also almost frantically, as though, now that he had picked up a thread, he must rush to discover where it would lead, for fear of losing it again, or for fear of losing his courage to pursue it.
“That look where she seems to be acknowledging that you are about to do something to break her heart. But there’s a defiance about it. As if she’s daring you to go ahead and break it. Or as if she’s telling you it’s already beyond breaking—so shattered is it already. Anyone else would have thought that she felt nothing at the moment, because her features were very relaxed.
But her eyes . . . rage and longing were behind them. I couldn’t tell if she was bidding me good-bye or pleading with me to stay brave. “I want to ask you something,” Saw Lay said, sinking back into his seat as he took a long swallow of beer. “Do you suppose that the British—that any of the Allies—would think it would be reasonable for the Jews to trust the Germans again? Miss Burma PDF Book Free
I mean to live peaceably under the Germans, under their government?” “Don’t be ridiculous,” Benny said. If he’d been short, it was because Saw Lay’s question had struck his ears—and his heart—as a latent insult, because it presupposed that Benny was so much an outsider that a comparison with the Jewish condition had to be drawn in order for him to understand that of the Karen people.
But there was also something painful about how easily Saw Lay had started down the path of political discussion, as if picking right up from where they’d left off years before—painful because it had been so absent from Benny’s life. Saw Lay sipped his beer without meeting Benny’s eyes.
“You probably haven’t heard,” he said quietly, “that we wrote a memorial of sorts, a letter, to the British secretary of state before the war was even over.” “We?” There it was, the excluding “we.” “The Karens leading the effort against the Japs,” Saw Lay said, putting his beer down. “We wanted to remind the British of the slaves the Burmans made of us before they came here. Miss Burma PDF Book Free
Of the huge role we played in the British army and police forces all along.” The alcohol and tobacco had done their work, relaxing Saw Lay’s agitation so that he openly seethed as he spoke. Benny wanted to say something to soothe him, but he sensed any speech would only further incense his friend. “I’m so tired of their story that we’re only minorities!” Saw Lay cried, jumping up from his chair and going to the window.