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I am the youngest of three sisters at 68 and we all live together in our family home in Nyaung Shwe. None of us ever married! We’re not exactly sure why but I suppose it’s just that we never really found anyone we particularly liked or fell in love with.

 

My middle sister says it’s because we were all too smart to enter “house prison”. That is the literal translation of “getting married” in Burmese, but I don’t believe we really considered that until we were much older. It really is that none of us met someone we felt we wanted to marry. The reasons are all very complicaed but very simple also. Maybe we were all just a bit too fussy! But we are all happy and I have decided to take some time out and rest next year. It’s important to look after oneself as you get older, very important to have that time to yourself. We don’t keep servants and maintain the household duties ourselves, so at times all of us do feel tired but we like to be independent.

 

I tutor English to both young children and adults and also receive my pension. I am not a teacher. I worked for the local government when I was still working, but the reason my English is so good is that I received a very disciplined education when I was in high school. I attended Kanbawza College in Taungyi, graduating around 1960 or 61 – I can’t quite remember. But my headmaster, Mr Lawrence was excellent. He eventually went back to England of course.

 

I was so good at volleyball back in school. We even brought back gold medals for Shan State when we competed against other high schools in tournaments. I worry about the deteriorating schooling system here and also the lack of activity among young people in Shan. I was so sad thinking about it when we held the SEA Games in Myanmar. There were no Shan representatives among the sports people whereas when I was young, there were many who played volleyball, basketball and badminton semi-professionally. I would love to see the education system get better and also prioritise activity for young people to grow fit and strong. It is important for young people to be healthy as well as educated.

 

One of my sisters was born during the war against the Japanese. Our house wasn’t bombed thankfully, but the whole quarter in the next street was bombed. So much was damaged but we don’t harbour any bad feelings towards them, things were just different back then. If there is anything that Buddha can teach us, it is tolerance. He never said it mattered that you were dark or yellow, but that we are all the same. We need to hold to these principles and remember them, and we also need to be mindful about when his teachings are used in politics or foreign affairs.

 

Daw Than Htay
Nyaung Shwe
Retired Officer (Cooperative Department)