Old Man John Ki with a Piece of Bread

Old Man John Ki got himself out of the woolen blanket.

The dim light of the dawn entered through the narrow gaps of planks and

The whistle of the winter’s cold wind was frighteningly diffusing.

Old Man John Ki groped for a set of dentures beside his bed.

His thin white hair was moving in the semi-darkness.

A pair of grass slippers was lying on the floor as if still in their deep sleep.

The shepherd dog Old Man John Ki used to call “Bobby”

Wagged its tail against the cold

And reared up on its old master … with a sign of sadness for him in its eyes.

Old Man John Ki washed his hollow-eyed face and grabbed a dry loaf of bread

On the window-sill at the right angle of the room.

Chewing the dry loaf, Old Man John Ki turned on his old radio.

As the wind whistle was getting louder,

Old Man John Ki placed his radio close to his ear.

When he heard of the bad news about snowstorms in the Southern California,

Out of his hollow eyes, tears rolled down his cheeks.

He kept on crying with his body trembling and swaying.

And soon afterwards, some imaginative images appeared in his poor old hut,

As if projected onto a screen, one by one …

And a ghost of a smile flitted back across his face.

He found himself sitting magnificently on the top chair of the dining table,

Saying grace and making a toast together with his family.

The echoes of laughter sounded like melodies in his ears.

Old Man John Ki was humming a tune to himself imagining, in his imaginative eyes,

The pictures of the family dinner party held after the successful harvest of wheat,

Of his own children, and of his beloved wife.

After deeply breathing in and out, Old Man John Ki knelt down

On the floor and then placing his deformed hands on his chest

He started praying to God murmuring,

Dear God, may I have a life-after-life-time chance

To look after my own children under close guardianship.

Meanwhile Old Man John Ki disgustedly looked at his terrible disease

On the skin of his body and tears from his eyes

Merged with the mist

Rising up through the narrow gaps of the planks.

A Mon Moon
Translated from the Burmese by KSW