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22 July 2050

Hpakant, Myanmar.

“Of all the hairs on the heads of the jade industry, only one strand is Burmese. The rest are all Chinese,” an old man that I once knew used to say.

Does this apply to my hair too? And does it change anything if my hair is all Chinese or Burmese?

The Chinese caused much suffering and harm to Myanmar, my country.
Around here, mountains and hills existed once. Then, the Chinese bosses employed us and we started digging all around, one mine after another. They reclaimed our land by force and controlled our people in order to be rich. It was them who extracted all the jade and exploited years of our lives. If all was not for them, we could be very rich. I was going to be very rich. Yet, it did not happen.

Each time it rained some of the mountains were gone and they took some of us with them. I have lost many people I knew to a landslide. First, you hear a noise and the earth starts crumbling, then you see the ground moving as if in frenzy; rapidly and unavoidably. You know what is happening and you know you are dependent on God’s will. You feel really small at those moments. After it was all over, we usually did not even know who was under the earth; we just knew we were less.

This is how we lost our lives and our mountains.

In fact, the large holes you see across the landscape were once busy with people. They would be running up and down, searching, carrying, falling and then getting up. At nights, they would go to their homes and start dreaming, imagining, fantasizing. They were jade-miners, heroin addicts, HIV positives with similar dreams and beliefs. Everybody knew someone who knew someone who was getting rich and prosperous from the jade hills. That’s why they all were ready to try “again”. In the end, none of us got rich, except the ones who got a gun to their hands because, as it turned out, it was not about who had extracted the jade stones from the ground, it was about who controlled the mines, and even that only lasted ‘til they were killed by the Chinese.

The jade ran out more than a decade ago. Since then, we are surrounded by emptiness.
There is no jade, no Chinese, no dreams. The mountains vanished over time, and the youth has migrated to far lands, mostly to China – to the source of all the evil.

I did not leave Hpakant, my home town. I stayed, like all the other elderly around. We harvest cassava and sugar cane, we still have the strength to do that, but things are not as they used to be. Water is scarce and that affects us the most. It is the Chinese who are drying up our rivers and harming our agriculture, we all know that. They have scientists and engineers who control the water with only a button. They push it and our water is gone. Also, earth is not the earth of my youth, it is dry and not as fertile. Yet, we keep working and manage to survive in this last period of our lives.

Chinese people have always controlled the world and our country.

They destroyed our soil and exploited our people. They gave heroin to the Burmese for years, in order to damage our country and use our resources. Today, they are exploiting our children. Of course they do, because that is how they all get rich.

I am here, in Hpakant. There are no mountains anymore and there is no youth either. My hands are with me though: to work the soil, to make a living, waiting for the time to pass. I am here for the moment, although no one realizes and no one listens.

Thein Than Myo


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