“Sliced Night” a Short Story by Yu Ya - translated from the Burmese by Khin Hait Thit Oo - 2017 - included in Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds - Short Stories of Contemporary Myanmar- edited by Lucas Stewart and Alfred Birnbaum
A post in honor of the people of Myanmar-
With the current state of the World, it seems unlikely we can travel to Myanmar soon. Thanks to Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds: Contemporary Short Stories from Myanmar we can at least vicariously experience this ancient, ethnically diverse and complex culture. Of the fourteen stories in the anthology, several are in regional of tribal languages other than the dominant Burmese. One of the characteristics of national literatures in South East Asia and on the Subcontinent is that often non-dominant languages are forgotten. In the introduction to this collection I learned there are over 135 active languages spoken in Myanmar besides Burmese. If you want to initiate your erudition in the literature of Myanmar Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds should be your starting point.
“Sliced Night” in just a few beautiful pages gives us a vivid portrayal of life on the turbulent streets of a Myanmar city. The focus is on a very lovable male street cat adapted by an affluent family. The family calls him Lanky. He is very gentle, calmly allowing the family children to spin him around. He even wins over the father, not initially a fan of cats. Yu Ya gives us a very interesting account of his dietary preferences, he prefers human food to cat food. At night he goes out at midnight and comes back in the morning. The ending is very poignant and I will leave it unspoiled.
Yu Ya (1987) is the youngest scion of one of Myanmar’s most famous literary families. The only woman in Myanmar to hold both a BA and MA in creative writing, she has won awards in interstate poetry competitions at township and state level. She has published over 40 short stories, poems and essays for several of the leading literary journals in Myanmar including Shwe Amyutae, Thouk Kyar, Yati and Padouk Pwint Thit. She currently works for BBC Media Action contributing to radio dramas on social and community issues.
I will return to this collection soon, initially posting on stories in tribal languages.