the poppy prophecy


This post is written for BLOGESHWAR 8.0 and ANUBHOOTI

The mighty Salween gently flew athwart the golden hued fields and a cool breeze from the eroded Arakan Yoma blew across but hardly helped the villagers of Kai Laek soothe their agony. A river, much like the cycle of life and death, brings happiness and sorrow both but one as calm as the Salween, shouldn’t have been of never ending mourning. The people in this part of the world had a tale rather different from the civilizations that once flourished on the banks of some of the greatest rivers on earth. For them Salween was a river of blood, a river they wished had never flown across their fields.

river salween

Khun Sha was one of the many farmers from the village that stood a few miles from the west bank of the river. He had three children to raise but without his better half and most villagers, or should I say all, had a similar story. His wife, Manjuri Sha didn’t die of disease or hunger, which one might obviously think, but was raped and killed by the Tao Army of Shan state.

Shan is one of the largest provinces of erstwhile Burma and the village of Kai Laek was a part of the much infamous Golden Triangle, which produced more than half of world’s illicit opium poppy (which made the popular drug Heroin). The villagers had no say for themselves. They had no rights, no voice for humanitarian concerns and their lives revolved around cultivating opium. They couldn’t grow paddy or anything else nor could sell or surrender the opium they produced. Who would, after all, buy opium from unlicensed farmers? The catchment area of Salween, one of the few undammed rivers in the world, was a hotbed for growing the divine produce that was snorted world across by the rich and famous and involved various national and international state machinery.

One of the surest ways of dying a gory death was crossing the river to the east bank which the villagers knew led to the borders of Thailand and Laos amidst thick jungles infested by drug traffickers and warlords.

the gentle breeze from the arakan yoma

The people of Shan were of an ethnicity of the same name and a minority to the Bamars who formed the bulk of Burma’s population. The Shans felt threatened and marginalized and to save their language, culture and identity picked up arms. They had much knowledge of the area and soon occupied a good deal of the state and forced the illiterate and poor people into opium farming which they smuggled to the neighboring countries for arms and money. The military government at the centre had no care for anyone, not even for the Bamars and what followed next was a vicious cycle of blood and gore. The insurgency killed from both the sides and it soon spiraled down to a free-for-all battle which culminated into much inter-ethnicity hatred and doubt. The battle killed without asking for religion, sex, ethnicity or language. It became a battle of power, supremacy, money, arrogance and vested interest.

What started as an insurgency soon became a blind game of murder and rape. What good is an insurgency? What good is violence? The Shas wanted food, education and a life of dignity and not this. Who had given the Tao army the right to fight for what they called a cause? What was the cause and at what cost? This and many more questions crossed Khun’s mind every passing second of his life and it was like a torture for his already frail and dying body but he didn’t hope for answers. He was the last person on earth to be having any hope out of the mess. What troubled him was the future of his children but deep down his heart he already knew their future.

His only son, Minao would grow to become an opium farmer under the watchful eyes of the cruel and mindless state army. He also knew that Minao would die soon, either by the kicks and punches of the state army or the bullets of the so-called central government who were nothing but a bunch of gun-totters who though propagated of cleaning the state of the opium fields had their eyes fixed on the golden bounty. The lure of power and money blinds one and all. Khun’s worst nightmare was the fate of his two daughters. It was the worst thing to be born a girl. He knew they would be raped, much before puberty, by any man in uniform and looked down as baby-making machines. The left-wing extremism the state army maintained had no morality to speak of. They were cruel and talked of liberation.

the golden fields

Amidst the glaring cruelty and a life of utter darkness Khun fell, face down, in the murky fields one fine day. The Salween was still flowing gently, the breeze from the Arakan Yoma still cool but the man could take no more of the state atrocities. One of his daughters, the younger and the more beautiful one had been taken by the army only a few days back. Her wails and cries were still fresh in his mind. His son’s left hand had been amputed for he dared to punch one of the soldiers who tried to force on his sisters out in the open. But Minao was there beside him with a hand that still hadn’t healed because he still had to work in the fields. Lifting his father’s head he gave a loud cry but before the man died he told Minao a story he had promised his father he would pass down in his last breaths.

“Minao, my dear son! My father had told of a Chinese traveler from Yunan who was the first to bring the golden seeds into our fields. What was once green with the paddy now smells of blood and drug. He had said the seeds would bring riches and glory to the land but somehow my father knew he spoke wrong and for his own benefit. I have nothing to give you except a faint glimmer of hope. The world is but a merry-go-around. Some get to sit on the blossoming lotus while others on the cactus but all the suffering and evil of the world, on the guise of a cause, will come to an end. It definitely will.”

He paused for a while and spoke these last words before falling dead in the arm of his only son, “Even these poppy fields.”

N.B: The pics are sourced from Google and any resemblance to a person or event is purely coincidental

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on 16/03/2011 at 12:24 am

    really nice. great writing skill

    Reply

  2. nooooooooooo. it jus ended so suddenlyy! i think u mus write a sequel!……feels like its incomplete :(((

    abt d story- grt write up, perfect sync wid d topic, thoda sa information overload bt defntly conveyed ur point abt d ‘hope exists sumwhr, sumplace, sumtym’ concept *actually din kno it until i read it on ur fb*
    all d same, wish to c a part 2 n den will giv u a glowin review Inshallah :))))
    do consider it…at least i will read it…pakka promise!!! 🙂

    Reply

  3. Posted by Omi on 16/03/2011 at 10:13 pm

    I can always feel nature in ur posts ….good one..
    Omi

    Reply

  4. Posted by Vivek Shrivastav on 16/03/2011 at 11:09 pm

    Vivek mindblowing.. awesome post…

    Reply

  5. a poignant narration. and well crafted post overall…its in sync with the topic. personally.i havent read anything of this genre till now and i had to consult a dictionary once or twice 😛 u seem to be a nature lover and also a deep thinker. Its seems blogeshwar is gonna be a neck to neck competition this time.good luck :))

    Reply

  6. very well written piece… i read it twice… flawless writing… ATB! Do read my piece at The Prophecy

    Reply

  7. thanks omi, vivek and aashish.. glad that u liked it

    @sarah: am indeed a nature lover but not a DEEP thinker.. actually this plot is inspired by two things.. the illegal opium farming in burma and the atrocious regime of cambodia’s khmer rouge.. u can say insurgency in general with some of my takes on the topic.. on second thoughts u can actually say that.. am indeed a thinker somewhat 😛 thanks a ton for ur inputs

    Reply

  8. Posted by anumita on 17/03/2011 at 9:53 pm

    beautiful beyond words..but i would like to listen the whole story from you once again to understand it properly 😛

    Reply

  9. @sadiya: thanks for the feedback.. but i had thought of this piece just as it is.. havent thought of a sequel as such.. my concern was to highlight the agony some ppl constantly live in, the futility of insurgencies, the glimmer of hope some ppl have as their only asset n the beauty of nature per se.. but i do agree on one thing.. i do have a habit of “giving out” info.. thats somewhat in my character.. will surely improve on it.. thanks again! 🙂

    Reply

  10. the way you wrote made me wonder vivek.. the beauty of the nature, wow, great one.. Best of luck, here is my take on Prophecy, the love prophecy

    Someone is Special

    Reply

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