Translated from the Burmese by ko ko thett
Come night, insecurity arrives on its toes with a pair of peeping eyes through bamboo mesh walls. * Baby cries, singalongs, dog howls and caterwauls— all those familiar noises are gone. Between the dome of the firmament and the roofs of our homes only the crows caw, over and over again. * Moles, fingers, saboteurs, dalan: words that are news to me. * Foe has no label written on his forehead. But he is close. Very close. * In the depths of the night when all lights are out everyone must hold their breath. First the footsteps of the army boots, then the orders: “Two from this house!” “Three from that house.” “Pull ’em down. Beat ’em up!” Rabid dogs snatch our neighbors. The dalan, a finger whose moral flesh is infested with maggots, is there to help. * A bullet out of the darkness is blind, and will hit a random target. It will destroy everything in its path. In a corner of this world a most violent plot unfolds out of a tragic opera. * Come the next morning a group of remaining women from the neighborhood take to the streets to witness the truth. * Their mouths will speak up. Their hands will stretch. They will pawn their own lives for their husbands and sons who have fallen on that blood-stained asphalt road. * By eight pm with their residual voices they will bang pots and pans in protest, until they hear the footsteps and the finger again.
Translator’s note: Myanmar, under the military regime, has always been a security-intensive state. In times of crisis, the regime steps up its use of what the Burmese call dalan, or informers, to instill paranoia among the populace and break the people’s spirit.