Why a booktrail?
A story of hope and salvation set against the complex and troubling backdrop of Burma’s turbulent past
Story in a nutshell
A complex and harrowing time for Burma and its people A civil war is raging and with many different factions fighting for control, violence and danger are everywhere. The Armed Forces, the Tatmadaw are doing what they can to control and frighten the public into submission. Everyday life is not only impossible but risky and so people are forced into begging and stealing simply to stay alive. One girl Thuza, becomes a a ruby smuggler and she is on a mission to seek revenge for past events – events which have shaped her as the person she has become.
When the Ambassadors son goes missing in such conditions, releasing him is not going to be easy. But for Thuza, this could be her ticket out of poverty. However for a certain military officer, this could also be another opportunity of a rather different kind..
“In Myanmar there are big animals an there are small animals. The government are big animals and we are small animals”
The author’s note describes the setting in one easy quote – giving an insight into the country and the situation faced by its people. It’s still not easy to have a conversation about the country she says, as it remains a frightening place for many..where “rumour and suspicion are powerful kings”.
Mogok, Shan State 1974
The story starts in Shan State where we meet Thuza who is living there with her family. The battles for land, money and power had steadily grown in strength and force so that even the mountains in Shan state and the town of Mogok are now affected. Everyone lives in a constant state of fear, surrounded by land mines. Thuza experiences the kind of heartbreak and destruction no one ever should have to experience, least of all a very young child. Heartbreaking scenes of violence and destruction.
Rangoon nine years later
The situation in Burma is just as dangerous nine years later it would seem. Rebels are in control and are decimating the country of its natural resources which would ultimately give it wealth and enough food for its people. But power seems to be the only currency here now.
When his son Michael visits him, the country is in turmoil and the cultural differnces between his home the UK and Burma are stark-
Thuza’s journey from absolute poverty in the Shan State and her experiences with what happened to her family are her overriding reason for what she does next in life Smuggling rubies is her way out. Her brother is one of the many who fight for independence and ultimately for freedom. Such is the choice in the lives of the people here.
The military side
The military are there to do whatever it takes to force the people into cowered determination. Than is merely one cog in a very big and powerful wheel which will crush anything and everything in its path. His desire to rise through the ranks comes above all else and he will do, well make other people do, anything to get what he wants.
Review – Susan
For someone who knew relatively nothing of the situation in Burma, this book is a real eye opener! The author note at the back was very useful and I would recommend that you read this first as it really helps set the scene as it were to better understand the events which follow.
This is quite a harrowing read in parts as people fear for their lives and the everyday is all just about trying to survive. Imagine living under such fear and not only from the obvious enemy but from your neighbour or man on the street who could just as easily betray you.
The story of the situation from three very different sets of eyes was interesting – from the poverty and violence from someone who suffered it to someone who helped meter it out, and then from the diplomatic arena…and the many grey areas in a war that was anything but black and white.
Lucy has done a great deal of timeless and detailed research and I can’t imagine what else she probably found that she couldn’t include – events, photos and notes which have evidently coloured the entire book and made it one heck on an insight into a better understanding of Burmese history.