Special Award Winning and Top Ten Essay from Purrfect Essay Competition
by Hein Thu Soe (Runner-up)
“Things didn’t become as we had hoped, did they...? I don’t breathe the same fresh air standing on the balcony, not anymore. Buildings rise up to the sky with trees nowhere to be seen.” Rap tap tap. “There’s still a market as used to, only with poorer people and daily wage workers.” Rap tap tap. “Oh, no more. Saddest of all is children, children are still working in tea shops and so.” Rap tap tap. “ Oh, no. Nevermore.”
I get up from bed, weak and weary. It’s the year 2025. I check the date, it’s my birthday. But it’s something not realized with such glee. I make my bed, set the alarm, and open the window seeing everything’s calm outside. The air feels stale and it’s all gloomy without any green color in sight. Thinking of trees, I wonder what happened to the “Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan (2018-2030).” We are now barely handling environmental conservation.
After my morning routines and exercises, I don’t feel that good. Something is lacking.
“ Generation Corona still struggles with job scarcity.”
“ Myanmar and its economic crisis: The process of development plans from ages”
Having breakfast with my mom, I get glimpses from what she’s reading. It’s good to see much more data-based journalism ( DDR ) but the content, not so good news. And I don’t feel like asking about them. All I hear is a sigh from the reader. After finishing breakfast, my mother kisses me and says, “Happy Birthday.” I sit still for a moment.
I pick up the newspaper.
Reading the first article, I realize students here might never stop struggling at finding jobs. After all, we are still recovering from the consequences of the pandemic. Lots of job scarcity and dropouts have altered the nation's workforce. Back in the years, the unemployment rate of fresh graduates was 26 percent and now unspeakable. Plus, the studies on the result of the dropouts and other mental health-related issues have not been widely done with other sectors in crisis. We were never ready for Corona.
That was unexpectedly a huge blow as I used to be someone who was engaged with youth development and children’s issues. That makes me recall my past self.
The project in the Western Yangon ‘New Yangon City’ has been partly implemented. Despite the effort of the government, the GDP and the employment of locals in Yangon didn’t reach the expected numbers. I keep reading but find economic concepts hard to grasp as my career is engineering. I read that the ASEAN regional connectivity plan is delayed.
After reading, I go inside my room to look for my diary. A letter slips out.
I remember it’s a letter to my future self from 5 years ago. I’m stunned by the letter, recalling my past self who was motivated not just for personal development but also for the community. I read and even reminded more of that and of the things I sacrificed to survive through the pandemic.
Taking the letter, I head upstairs to the balcony of the house for air. It’s a short way of course yet it somehow grants me the time to reflect back on who I was back then. With each step of stairs, I recall each community project, every moment, every impact and every story. At the end of the stairs, I now have second thoughts about pursuing academics and letting go of all community projects because I couldn’t keep on multitasking during the pandemic. I stand still with thoughts swaying.
Then my thoughts are disrupted by someone rapping, tapping at the chamber door. This reminds me of the bleak poem “The Raven”.
Only in my case, it’s
“Some EARLY visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; This it is and nothing more.”
What’s eerier is, I just notice my feelings now are similar to the poem’s, being dreary.
The silence is unbroken and the last thing I hope is a raven. Seeing a crow, I was solemn. I walk out the balcony and mutter,
“Things didn’t become as we had hoped, did they…?__
The clouds are gloomy. The wind is cold and still. There isn’t a ray of sunlight. There are faint sounds from the market. Behind me, the crow is still rapping, tapping.
In my hand, it’s the letter from my diary with a line in the end, ”Did we do it?”
Then I hear faint music. The rhythm’s fast, sharp like a rap song. The song’s getting faster, clearer. I realize the song is “ Never Give Up.” That’s when I wake up …. from the nightmare.
I am now all sweaty and scared. Then I take a bit of time to process all that and realize I was dreaming. I check the date. It’s 21st December, 2020. My diary is near the clock. I check the outside through the window. There is still our mango tree, all green and alive with birds. The sight of that restores my relief, giving me strength to forget my dream.
Then I hear the tapping from the varrender door which causes me to be stunned. Then instead of trying to forget it, I decide to confront whatever’s outside the door, mustering all my strength.
I finally reach there and whatever it is, I am now going to face it.
It’s a dove...
Confrontation has never felt better when it turns out to be the exact opposite of your worst imagination. And I feel empowered by the situation itself. I feel a surge of confidence for my own country I love, out of nowhere. I feel capable and regain all determination to the work I am doing despite all the fear I just experienced.
There is still a market. There are still many trees. The bright sun rises. The wild wind gusts. The dove is staring at me. There are other birds also.
And there is also me, standing tall with a letter in my hand that says,
“We did it.”
Hein Thu Soe is an 19-year-old student specializing in Port and Harbour major at Myanmar Maritime University. Despite being an engineering student, he's always eager to be a part of changes in community either small or large scaled. In 2020, he was an intern at Development Innovation Insider as a social journalist in training being a medium for his community and currently a writer at ChangeMag Platform. While pursuing his academic and activites, he loves to indulge himself in expressive arts on social issues during his spare times.