nederlandse taal
english language

 
Poetry International Web
en/nl
dutch news
next
 
 
 


Chin
I’ve come to exist as Chin
in this life.
So I wanted to know about Chin.
More than this
while I wondered what we are
I ended up wondering what Chin is.
While I was searching for what we are
I ended up searching for what Chin is.
 
Now
with what we have wondered
people have talked.
“The home owner pretends to be a guest.”
 
I reply
Chin are hospitable
but not all Chin can be hospitable.
Chin are honest
but not all Chin can be honest.
Chin live in the hills
but not all Chin can live in the hills.
Chin are faithful
but not all Chin can be faithful.
Chin are trusting
but not all Chin are simple. 
Most Chin are hill people
but not all Chin reject city culture.
Here
if what I am saying is not complete
you can respond by adding to it.
 
I am Chin
but those who are less Chin than me
understand, know and calculate more about Chin.
 
Real Chin must be honest
must have faithfulness
must live in the hills
like that.
I can’t live like that.
I’m Chin, not mixed with water
but I can’t live like that.
It doesn’t matter if I can’t live in the hills
but it does matter if I can’t live as they say.   
 
I go because I can’t live like that
I don’t know where I’ll be
I don’t know where I’m going
I could arrive anywhere…
 
I’ve been to an author
who believed that speaking international languages
is an art.
He said
walk all along the mountain range
listen to the music of wild flowers
sleep with the whispering of leaves
that’s what Chin is.
 
I can’t live like that
so I go and I could arrive anywhere. 
 
I’ve been to a poet
who believed that if you can combine consonants and vowels
you are a poet.
Get warmth from the mist and snow of the hills
drink rice wine
play the drum, the cow horn, sing and dance
that’s what Chin is.
 
I can’t live like that
So I go and I could arrive anywhere. 
 
I’ve been to a bureaucrat
who wore thick glasses and had grey hair
he said
real Chin carry a basket with a machete  
go to the field, cultivate and weed it
then take guns and go hunting
celebrate after getting prey.
 
I can’t live like that
So I go and I could arrive anywhere. 
 
I’ve been to a traveler
whose home was his legs
who believed he should build rice stores in every village he went.
Always keep an eye on the hills
aren’t the hornbills Chin?
Aren’t the copsia that brightly flower amongst mist and snow Chin?
I can’t live like that
so I go and I could arrive anywhere. 
 
I’ve been to a history teacher
who thought those who valued ancient trash
were clever.
Mountains hide the meaning of Chin
in the heart-shaped Lake Rih.
The beauty of Chin
is hidden under the tradition of facial tattoos.
The God of white people
has decomposed the bones of Chin ancestors.
The truth
lies deep inside.
I can’t live like that
so I go and I could arrive anywhere. 
 
I have been to researchers
who were curious and playful
and carried the sign of research in their hands.
Excavate the memorial stones at the village entrance
or on the entry wall of the house
knock on the animal skulls
translate what they say harmoniously
for example Khonumthung is the mountain of the goddess
aren’t they strong and modern Chin? 
I can’t live like that
I keep going and I could arrive anywhere. 
 
Chin are from heaven
so we must sing
to heaven.
 
No, No.
Chin are siblings of wild animals
born together
so we must make offerings to the forest spirit and mountain spirit.
No, No.
Chin are from a burrow
so there is Chindwin.
No, No.
Chin are moon light, rice wine and the fire festival,
ancients becoming modern with whisperings and song.  
 
No, No.
Real Chin
never sing sentimental songs.
The call for war and proclamations are their songs
faithfulness and honesty is their culture
they are natives of unity and peace.
 
No, No.
Chin are never united
and don’t have peace.
Assam, Manipur
Mizoram, Chin Hills
the Asho plains, the Sittakaung region 
What pestle follows the spilt rice?
 
Ka Sa Ya doesn’t know what they’ve done and achieved.
One-in-Chin Salai Mai.
Common literature and language
is a terminal illness kept alive with antibiotics.
It’s said that you cook to make rice
but nobody started the fire.
 
No, No.
As far as you stretch your legs, you’ll reach a point of arrival
you/I don’t want to arrive in the centre of four corners
because to be away from the place we don’t want to arrive
we end up being away from where we want to arrive.
Is it like waiting for sunshine from the shadows?
Or is it like waiting for sunshine facing the heat?
 
The cattle herders who drink beer and wear jeans
shout: “Our culture is rice wine.”
A Falam girl that said she wore wild flowers instead of Burma padauk
now has a wilted orchid in her hair.
The pink kopsia that once bloomed in Yangon
now flowers in Singapore.
Domestic chicken who would lay their bones in Mizoram  
now have neither bones nor relatives.
Elders who wait for overseas calls
frequently answer calls from the Middle East.
Young Chin who became refugees
end up swimming in the sea with bare hands and drinking salty water.
All think this is globalisation.
 
America is
not our Canaan.
A signature from Condoleezza Rice
is not our visa for the door of heaven.  
Some matters are sensitive
and might need moralization.
For instance - every Chin can drink alcohol.
The Chin hills are bald like Mt. Ubrina.
Postmodernism has no centre or remainder
from thinking to deep analysis and scrutiny
pondering over and over
traditional life based on one turn of oun and one turn of phwa
with simple honesty
amongst them stupidity
makes history
one piece here, one piece there
let’s count every single piece
and eat them.
One piece counts for one.
Bo Cuan Bik, Bo Cung Pak
defied the Union Jack
that reckless Chin.
 
Vom Thu Maung
pressed oil from a lone sesame seed
these reckless Chin picked a star in front of us.
 
In the midst of hazy snow
there were reckless Chin like
1. Pu Hlur Hmung
2. Pu Kio Mang
3. Pu Thawng Za Khup
who packed uncertain promises for us
with conviction
because of these reckless Chin
February became the
freshest fossil.
 
There were also reckless Chin
who extended the longevity
of ancient Chin recklessness.
Senior General Hrang Thio
with faithfulness, bravery and responsibility
a historic duty for the motherland
amidst that where there is no between
one leg and one life
this reckless Chin sacrificed.
Like heavy rain
among torrential bullets
Thai Sawn collected the Hero of Aung San.
He was the most reckless ‘martyr’ in this land.
 
Aung Min would have been over if he’d spoken out
for Aung Min not to be over
Aung Min stirred the ‘Cabinet’
Thakin Aung Min was reckless like that.
 
Not wanting to mix with others
Salai Tin Maung Oo, who became a paper kite
stepped forward in public—
it’s asked if his bones decomposed.
 
If hill people are
for hill people
he who created a sea
or
he who wanted to mix all Chin
Salai Ram Lian Hmung
goaded us/ “Mai Mai Mangtha
that great reckless Chin.
Was Salai Sun Ceu
who died gathering firewood
a reckless Chin?
He gave birth to Mi Nge and abandoned Mi Nge
how confused we are
left desiring Mi Nge.
 
Yes
One piece counts for one.
 
Among Chin
are diverse groups and dissimilar languages
that we have to count.
Zozam, Moe Yin The Ya
they’re Chin cartoonists.
They draw cartoons
to amuse the cattle herders
who aren’t attached to home and don’t lick salt.
 
Based on what I know
he who eats Moe Moe (Innya) Cakes
is Tui Mui villager, Tual Khan Mang,
a Chin who writes.
Salai Thuah Aung who is in America
Thawn Kham holding the power of love
guitarist Khin Maung Thant
are Chin musicians.
 
In this way, there are diverse Chin
If you answer ‘Chin’ when questioned on your nationality
we have to ask again, what Chin are you?
For me if someone asks “what nationality are you?”
“Chin” is my answer
If they ask again what Chin I am…
a chin carried by Soe Myat Thu Zar
making fun like that.
Mouths dry to say
one knows what one knows
in this smooth talking era 
to say one doesn’t know though one knows
to arrive where arrived
and to arrive where not yet arrived
in our age
there are many questions to answer
the more questions there are, the more fresh and alive.
When the broken mortar becomes a flowerpot for god
it is peace
but some want to make mortars from flowerpots
for the sake of peace.
 
The meaning of a happy life
like in a storybook
oh . . .Chin hills
when I look at you
I remember the words that my grandfather said before he died
Chin is gin
a little bit hot and spicy
but is it really good medicine?
  
Please don’t mind when I ask questions like these
I’m speaking straight
I say what I have to say
I’m also an honest Chin
who can’t answer all the questions asked. 
  
 
 
 

Editor's Note: Thanks to Rody Dim and Beldy Iang for assisting with the translation. Chin is an ethnic minority group from western Myanmar. Chindwin is a major river in the west of Myanmar. Ka Sa Ya is a Burmese acronym for the Chin Literature and Culture Association. Ounphwa is a Burmese exclamation used to sooth children. 'Mai Mai Mangtha' is a popular Chin song, which translates as 'Goodnight Chin girl'. 'Mi Nge' is a popular song, which translates as 'Young Girl'. Chin can also mean basket. Gin (gyin) is ginger.