R.C. concludes an article regarding Hilary Clinton’s recent meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi in the Economist with these drivelling words:
…Finally, after too much stiff posing, the two embraced each other, warmly. That seemed very sincere, and genuinely moving. The cameras whirred. That old, defiant house will probably never witness a sweeter moment.
When I met Aung San Suu Kyi in July and posed with her for a photo I too was moved. Everyone’s moved when they meet her. Or when they even just see her. I’m sure you could walk through bookshops in Australia and find that people are moved just looking at covers of her biographies.
Now I look back on it, I am a little disgusted with myself.
We are so collectively moved that we refer to her as Her or that Lady. A great big wafting hole of emerald (or whatever colour her longyi happens to be) empathy emerges when you enter proximity of the Suu Kyi vortex. Couldn’t be moved, let alone give a much thought for the countless street kids I saw prior to meeting Her though. Hilary and Suu Kyi, two political demons embracing each other in the fire of time, in front of that old chestnut of a house – wow, R.C., wow – such a sweet moment. Every moment is a sweet moment with an appropriate dash of spiritual indulgence. Perhaps, for R.C., Economist fiend, staged moments for public relations provide that sort of indulgence.
Here I shall not be writing anything to dissuade you from being drunk on the Suu Kyi train. I only want to imagine the negative feedback rather than experience it. I shall instead more likely contribute to your inebriation by sharing the moment with her that moved me. What moved me when I met her was that I saw a Mum, not so much ‘the Mum’. I had not seen my Mum for quite some time, admittedly – so perhaps this vision is all pear shaped. Nevertheless, at this moment I feel it was probably your Mum too.
I was having a US $4 ‘government’ latte in the filthy new Yangon airport terminal and I hear “… no, no, that’s okay, we’ll sit over here”. She turned around and looked at me before sitting down in the lounge just outside the restaurant with her son Kim. I asked the waiters if it was really her and they nodded. The ‘government’ latte was gulped down and I swallowed a lot of poisonous derisiveness and cynicism along with it. I felt extra-ordinarily guilty for having a ‘government’ latte.
I walked past her and Kim just to see if my presence was unwelcome. It was seemingly not. Her son laughed at my shamefully erratic behaviour. I was thinking too much. Had indulging in the ‘government’ latte sped everything up? There was no security detail. The waiters and waitresses had all gathered in a line at the edge of the restaurant area to look on at her.
I apologized for interrupting and asked if it was alright for me to have a photo. I tried to curb everything that was on my mind from frothing forth. Chatting about the renovation going on at her house, taking a photo of her neighbour’s house, having a ‘government’ latte, and talking of their then recent trip to Bagan thankfully did not splutter forth. Mother and son are not my neighbours.
Rather I mentioned Nicholas Farrelly’s research and apologised for Kevin Rudd’s apparent shameless photo opportunism. Just in case. Of course, she said Rudd was perfectly fine, but she became slightly perturbed at the mention of Farrelly’s research on the Kachin. Pleasantries continued briefly until Kim got up to go to his departure gate. I wished her good luck and she said thank you. She had enormous harrowing eyes, pitch periwinkle black, which pierced mine when she said thank you. She hurried after Kim. I emerged out of the vortex.
When some people at my departure gate’s lounge found out I had met Her, they were particularly jubilant. Some wanted to indulge in the mist of the emerald vortex still lingering on me. An elderly woman held my arm on the flight for about an hour. This was electrifying. Power! Electrification did not so much occur while meeting Her, but afterwards. Briefly, I was the chosen one. Briefly I imagined myself speaking before hundreds of thousands of people, all of them hanging on my words, whatever they may be. After indulging on this feeling for a while, it became stale. I realised I am not that important. She is not that important. Vayadhamma sannhara.
The Air Asia flight’s cabin lights dimmed as we came in for landing. Those street kids I saw are more important. My Mum is more important. I suddenly felt very sorry for Kim. Here he was, sitting with his Mum only for some idiot to wade into and interrupt those special moments all for an apparent gratuitous lust for power. I saw my Mum briefly last week for a few days. I am now in Yogyakarta, not too sure what I’m doing. Kim, I am still sorry.
For what it’s worth, you’re clearly far better than Chelsea.