Smile as they Bow by Nu Nu Yi (tr. Alfred Birnbaum and Thi Thi Aye)

a nutshell: amid the revelry of the Taungbyon Festival (a major traditional celebration of nats – spirits) we meet Daisy Bond, a celebrated queer natkadaw (spirit medium) consumed with angst about her increasingly strained relationship with her younger assistant

a line: “I speak, laugh, cry as a woman. I feel everything as a woman. That makes me a woman. I’m a woman inside.”

an image: born male but living as a woman, Daisy muses on how the meinmasha mark is on individuals from the moment they’re born – it may be hidden or masked for different reasons, but come the right time and season, it blossoms bright and bold

a thought: to Nu Nu Yi’s credit as a writer, I didn’t find myself siding with either Daisy or Min Min – both deserved to live more freely than their lives had so far allowed

a fact: due to beliefs that nat possession was a sham, the Taungbyon Festival was banned under King Mindon’s reign (1853-78) and remained so under the rule of Myanmar’s last king, King Thibaw (1878-85); British colonisers reinstated it to create a diversion for people, Nu Nu Yi says – “They didn’t reinstate Taungbyon for natkadaws to cheat people, they reinstated Taungbyon to cheat the country”


want to read Smile as they Bow? visit here

One thought on “Smile as they Bow by Nu Nu Yi (tr. Alfred Birnbaum and Thi Thi Aye)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s