‘Parallel Lines’ by San Lin Tun (Myanmar)

Short story selected for the 2011 New Asian Writing Short Story Anthology

It was not as warm as the day before. But, a shady place was essential. It was almost noon. It was lunchtime. So, he chose a suitable place to have his lunch.

The table was set under a short tree that gave sufficient shade. As soon as he sat at the table, a girl approached and asked him what he would like to eat. The girl looked thin, but had a smile that showed how sincere she was. Like most Myanmar girls, she applied thanatkhar on her cheeks to resist the heat and also to make herself more charming. She wore simple clothes. He met her here often and she knew him quite well. She left him after he had ordered his lunch.

Within minutes, she brought his lunch – a bowl of chicken curry and a plate of rice, which was not his favorite meal but he had to make do for he was away from home. He understood that beggars can’t be choosers.

He enjoyed his meal alone.

His mind wandered back to his hometown. In the shade of the tree, he remembered the words his mother told him before he left for Yangon on business: “Son, when you reach the capital, you’ll have to depend on yourself only. You should strive to achieve your ambitions. Just keep trying. Believe in your dream.”

He saw a woman who sold plums huddle her child in her arms. Her face beamed with love and happiness.

A sense of warmness arose in his heart, bringing his own mother to his memory. He also missed her. She was his shade and refuge.

Seeing the mother with her child enhanced his belief in parental love more than ever. He was sure only paternal love could make the world a beautiful place to live in.

Glossary:

thanatkhar – natural cosmetics used by Myanmar women to cool their faces off or to beautify themselves.
Yangon
–name of the former capital of Myanmar. The new capital is the city of Naypyidaw, about 320km north of Yangon.

Illustration by Alan Van Every

About the author:

San Lin Tun is a Myanmar-Mon national born in 1974. He was educated at Yangon Technological University (Y.I.T) and the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University (I.T.B.M.U). Currently, he is pursuing his M.A at I.T.B.M.U. So far, he has self-published two books of fiction and two of non-fiction. His interests are rhetoric, writing prose and poems. He lives in Yangon.

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