Monday, 23 January 2012

(Lady of) No Fear in the Year of the Dragon

Yesterday found me at the Arts Picturehouse -watching Aung San Suu Kyi in a brief documentary about her early years as a North Oxford housewife, mother of two young sons, trying to ascertain what her true purpose in life would be. Michael Aris, her husband, was the famous Tibetan scholar, Oxford don, figure of importance. And then suddenly, late one night in 1988, the phone rang. Suu's mother had had a stroke. She returned to Burma alone and never left, could never leave, inherited her father's heroism and became mother (Daw Aung San) to Burma. When Michael died in 1999, the military regime persisted in their refusal to grant him entry. He had not seen his wife for an unbearably long time. He had been walking in her footsteps for years, as carefully and diplomatically as possible - she had been walking, and continues to walk, in the footsteps of the Buddha, who sacrificed being with his family, his son Rahula, for humanity.
Perhaps such grace, such fearlessness, can only come with such sacrifice. When, after ten years, Daw Aung San was re-united with her son Kim in 2010, there was such tenderness in her embrace; she held him lightly as though he were the breeze, or a feather. As though she had never held him at all.
But she had. Of course she had.
How does a warrior survive house arrest over decades? How does a prisoner of conscience smile the way she does? Tease and laugh with her people the way she does? I think it must be because she is living up to her father's memory, and because she knows her sons are safe. I think it is because she is a mother.

In the Quiet Land of Burma, where cries are strangled, one flower blooms for all of us.

May the Year of the Dragon bring something wonderful for mothers everywhere. May your children be protected, may your fears be calmed. May your children recognise and be grateful for your sacrifices.


Marcoantonio Arellano (Nene) said...

I am pleased by this assemblage of words that express an anecdote in a calming and spiritual way. A method that differentiates cultural upbringings.

Thank you for sharing

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Beautiful, Shaista. I so love and admire this woman. Cant wait to see the film.

Shaista said...

Sherry the movie with Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis should be beautiful - wish we could watch together! But what I watched was a documentary using real footage and photographs and interviews with close friends.
Apparently Suu always walked and acted like a princess even as a college student, and she also always wore a flower in her hair :)

A said...

What a woman.

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

This is a most beautiful post. I have lived with Lupus for over 25 years and found your blog from Teri at Working the Earth. Courage comes in all shapes and sizes. Blessings to you, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Ruth said...

Thank you for your motherly and mothering heart.

SG said...

She is an admirable lady. I have always admired her courage and grace. Look forward to the movie.

Brother Ollie said...

Happy Year of the Dragon to you!

Thank you for the kind comments.

Marion said...

It's so refreshing to be able to admire someone who has made the news.

steven said...

wow! what a beautiful kind and loving piece of writing. i didn't know this story. steven

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