It’s been a couple of months since I arrived back in NZ after a quick jaunt through Brunei and Myanmar. Life has resumed as normal… As it does. But the memories of this trip are still lingering oh so vividly in my mind… to a point where I’m still finding reminders in the smallest most insignificant of things.
Usually these reminders are in the form of a song, a scent, a smile…. But tonight these memories are brought back to life in a couple of sentences from the book I’m currently reading. ‘But it was my mother who starved herself to feed us, who comforted us when we were afraid and who suffered in abject poverty. She did he best to shield my brother and me against harm and disease, sacrificing her life so we would be safe and educated’. (I’m currently reading Journey of a Thousand Storms by Kooshyar Karimi).
Safe… There is little that I can hand on heart say as the absolute undoubted truth, because there is always opportunity for adaptation to unpredicted variables/circumstances. But one thing is for sure, my Mother and my Nana would give me the clothes from their backs if they had to. Life in NZ doesn’t present the kind of hardship that the sentences above describe, as a result my Mother has never needed to suffer in such a way… But would she? Yes, if it meant my sister and I had a happy n healthy life. As for safety… again, not something we need to be overly concerned about in NZ. But would she protect me within an inch of her soul? Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind. A mother’s love is one that I’m yet to fully comprehend as I’m yet to start a family. But reading these words this evening send my mind to my Mum and my Nana… The only 2 people in this world that I’d never say no to. Regardless of the environment you traipse through life in… a mother’s love is something that can never be messed with or belittled.
Education… The other word that caught me as I was reading. Myanmar taught me a myriads of lessons. One of the most important of these lessons was the importance and value of education. It was also a kind of slap in the face that I well deserved, as I’ve meandered through life without a degree or any serious focus on my studies be it during high school or even now as I’m studying towards a degree after the working day is done. I had never appreciated the value of an education or the true weight of white privilege until I journeyed through Myanmar. The thought that being a bright child born into a poor family (that’s me) means that your future is pretty much $#!&ed because there’s no money to send the child to state school, and instead you’re either put to work at a sickeningly young age or you’re sent to the monastery to live out the rest of your days (white privilege means that I’m not put to work until I’m legally able aka 15yo and that I’ll never be sent to a religious anything because my country isn’t fussed by religion).
I still think of the woman hunched under a makeshift windbreaker with half a dozen mostly naked children, huddled around a tatty looking book, somewhere between Bagan and Mandalay. These are memories that continue to permeate my thoughts. These are images that I hope never leave me.
I’m rambling… I sit here writing of the hardships I observed, yet I write to you from the premium lounge of my local airport awaiting yet another flight for work. It hurts my heart to know that whilst I’ve earned the work related privilege I have today, reality is that if I were born a different colour/culture from a different country… There’s no way that I’d have anything close to the life I have today.
I’m rambling… I know it. My mind is yet again caught up in a myriad of wonderings. I don’t have the answers to universal equality… But far out, I’m working on it.