My Will

by Than Toe Aung

“We are safe. We are safe. We are safe.”
is the mantra I have been repeating to myself these days.
Have you heard of the king that fiddled as his kingdom burned to the ground?
We have a devil worse than him.
He is there. But his green proxies are everywhere.
He will do anything for ar-nar.

At night, I wake up to the sounds of gunshots, the beatings, the pleas.
The images of my people’s brains bursting on the streets like bloody tomatoes.
I hear the voices
of the green terrorists swearing at my neighbors
threatening to shoot if we come out to our balconies
if we make noises
if we turn on the lights in our houses
if we breathe.
When I sleep at night, I hold my partner tight
fearing they will break into our house and take us away, alive or dead,
at three in the morning.

I am ready.
I have made myself ready.
Either to fight in a war or to flee from a war.
I have been watching how-to-make-homemade-weapons videos on YouTube
to defend myself and my loved ones.
I have packed my bag with my expired passport and the vintage photo of my family
to flee and become a refugee that no nation wants.

I have told my friends not to bury me, but to burn me when I am dead
so that they can’t hunt me down even when I am in the graveyard.

If I am killed, I will ask God not to reincarnate me in Burma again.
I will tell him that I want to live by a lake, own a boat, and watch the sunset.
Like those carefree Europeans.
If we win, I will write a memoir.
I will live by a lake, own a boat, write poetry, and watch the sunset.
Like those carefree Europeans.

For now
“We are safe. We are safe. We are safe.”
Until they shoot us down or snatch us away.


16th March, 2021


This text is part of မိုးသောက် — a series of posts edited by Nathalie Johnston and arranged by Myanmar Art Resource Center and Archive (MARCA).
မိုးသောက် or ‘moethauk’ literally translates to ‘drink of rain’ but is used in the Burmese language to refer to the early morning or dawn. The participating scholars in this section of the blog are from Myanmar and chose this name to reference a new beginning, starting over in the wake of the damage caused by Covid-19 and the recent military coup in Myanmar.
Click here to read this text in Burmese.

Than Toe Aung is a poet, writer, and activist scholar. He started a spoken word movement called “Slam Express,” which intersects activism and art, in his hometown Yangon. He is currently completing his Masters in Critical Gender Studies at Central European University in Vienna, Austria. When he is not writing or slamming poems, he writes about his ongoing identity crisis of growing up and living as a minoritized Muslim in Buddhist Burma. His interests lie in identity, belonging, borders, migration, race, ethnicity, decolonization, (trans)gender, non-binary, and queer politics.