Sunday, 16 October 2011

4. The Window to Welcome the Rain

Open the window.


One must have an opening to breathe oxygen. Every building, every room, needs a window. What four walls bind needs a window, an opening. The fact of a window is not enough. It must be open, sometimes. If a window is never open, what is its use?  
One invents a riddle: When is a window not an opening?
Answer: When it is never open. 
The sky is a many-hued painting. White, brown, gray, yellow, and red streak across the sky blue background. This mighty sky is a fantasy—it looks as if an angel has left his footprints mid-air in an upward flight.  
Somewhere in the north, there is rain. One can see the gray clouds. Later, the wind will blow them here. The rains will come too, and leave their evidence on the earth. Then they will move on to other lands.  
Strong winds rush across the tip of the nose. It senses the warmth of the air and the cool water particles. The air is not dry, but is humid, with a touch of clean coolness.  
The rain is coming soon. 
Rain? The mango and the rains! The rat and the pot! Of mangoes, rats, pots, and rains, there are four kinds. And so of man.  
The four kinds of mangoes: those which are still green, yet look ripe; those which are still green and look green; those which are ripe, yet look green; and those which are ripe and look ripe. These four kinds can be understood. No problem, understandable. 
The four kinds of rats: those who dig holes and live in them; those who dig holes, but do not live in them; those who do not dig holes, but live in holes dug by others; and those who do not dig holes and do not live in them either. These four kinds can be found in houses, on roads, on altars, and sky high electric lines. No problem, understandable.  
The four kinds of pots: those which are full of water, but have no lids; those which are full of water and have lids; those which have no water, but have lids; and those which have neither water nor lids. These four kinds can be found everywhere.16 No problem, understandable. 
The four kinds of rain: those which have thunder, but no rain; those which rain, but have no thunder; those which have both rain and thunder; and those which have neither rain nor thunder. But wait! How can this happen? Neither thunder nor rain! Is the sky not the sky? Is this rain? Should we call this rain? 
If there is thunder without rain, that is understandable. We could ready ourselves with raincoats and umbrellas, though they would prove useless. If there is rain, but no thunder, that is also understandable. We would be soaked with nothing to protect us from the rain because we had heard no warning. If there is rain and thunder, that is understandable. We will be happy to be protected from this rain. If there is neither thunder nor rain, how can we understand this? We will not be ready, and there will be no rain. So? We will not hear the alarm of thunder, and nothing will happen. What would we call that? 
“My dear rain, won’t you fall? The angry wind rushes, but there is not a tear from the sky. We are cool. We want rain. If you can’t come, please send these ugly dark clouds far far away.” 
Is this circumstance neither thunder nor rain? Ugly gray clouds absorb the sky. The wild and angry wind attacks us. Lightning doesn’t strike anywhere in the eight directions of the earth. No thunder. No rain. No water. Time extends and the place darkens in the cruel cruel wind. Is this what we call “neither thunder nor rain”? Can we call this “rain”? What if we say, “this is the sky welcoming rain”?  
Vision/ Touch
Black clouds rule the sky here in darkness. But look, a sky-blue brightness in the distance. Rough winds blow here, bearing dry leaves and sand. They roam without rest on the roads. Even under the reign of darkness we can see. The chill makes the skin prickle, rigid and fierce. 
But here there is no thunder, no lighting, no rain. 
Rain. How we long for it. Even if the rain ravages us all like the trash, we need this rain, this water. Something must happen. 
If only the lightning would deliver. Even for a brief moment, we need a stroke of light. When we could see, we could protect ourselves, and make certain our security. If only we could hear a clap of thunder, it would give us hope that the rain would follow.  
Close the window.


One can see the outside from the open window. And the sky. One learns about the surroundings—its gentleness, its roughness, its ugliness, its cruelty. One feels this. Without the window, we cannot see outside. We cannot see the sky. We cannot feel the surroundings—gentle, rough, ugly, cruel.  
If this is so, what one feels now—the anger, the discontent, the dissatisfaction, the depression—it is all caused by the open window. If one were to close all the openings, all the windows, there would be no anger, no discontent, no dissatisfaction, no depression. One would be content. One would feel secure. 
In that case, is it better that there are no windows at all? 
A body lies with a window opening in its chest, from throat to stomach. Its heart has an opening, the same as the window on the wall. But no air pushes the inside out.

Ma Thida (Sanchaung)
1989, August, Moemaka magazine
Second paragraph of Mind of 5 was banned by the Press Scrutiny Board
That was translated first by Dr Khin Maung Win, edited by author herself and polished by Janine Oshiro.

No comments:

Post a Comment