I especially love this photo.
Enjoying another cheap and tasty meal — this time one that was also very healthy and convenient. Going out for breakfast, lunch or supper was something we always enjoyed, especially during this year, when we had no means of cooking in our apartment. (I had returned to Chiang Mai to start a job on a one-year contract that I didn’t intend to renew, so we didn’t want to fill the place up with stuff we would have to move. Luckily, we had no shortage of good places to eat in the neighborhood.)
This would prove to be Eid’s last birthday breakfast. She was still eating perfectly normally at this stage, and still enjoying all the great food that Chiang Mai had to offer. However, within six months, she had lost about 20 percent of her body weight (almost all of it within the space of a month) because she could no longer keep anything down.
There was also this birthday greeting on Eid’s FB page, from our good friend Joe. I made a screenshot of it at the time because I found the automatic translation from Thai quite amusing, and more than a little bizarre. (A more recent version is still far from perfect, but makes a lot more sense.)
Finally, here are two posts from Eid herself. The last was actually posted first, before we went out for breakfast that morning. Eid followed Ajahn Jayasaro on FB and often reposted his handwritten “Dhamma memes”, especially the ones in English. Although it seems like a dark way to mark the start of your birthday, it actually serves as a reminder of the need to appreciate the value of the things that don’t last (i.e., everything). As hard as her life often was, Eid was always grateful for everything she had and took nothing in life for granted, including her health.
After writing about the Rohingya cartoon, I decided to continue my criticism of Aung Zaw with another post. This time I went after something I knew he was even more sensitive about than his crude racism — his image as a selfless crusader for press freedom and democracy in Burma.
This was the post that finally got him to unfriend me, which he didn’t do until then because he wanted to monitor my online communication with others at the office who I was still in contact with. (I also occasionally used FB Messenger to contact him directly, although he ignored my attempts to remind him of why I wanted him to apologize to Eid.) I also received an email from my boss the following day, telling me to remove the post because he didn’t want to have trouble with Aung Zaw (who I presume informed him about it). Instead, I simply hid it from my timeline. I also started monitoring Aung Zaw’s Facebook posts (most of which were public), although I didn’t resume criticizing him until a year later, after I had quit my job and Eid had passed away.
Aung Zaw demonstrating his mastery of false modesty, saying his “commitment and sacrifice are nothing compared to those who spent years in prison”. He claims that the only thing that has kept him going all these years is the thought of his “heroes” behind bars. No mention of the big house in Chiang Mai or the generous salary just for showing up to work two or three times a week to offer useless editorial guidance (or to drink wine from the bar fridge in his office).
They say you shouldn’t compare apples and oranges, but this is more like comparing horses and unicorns — while many activists have made real sacrifices, Aung Zaw’s are mostly imaginary.
Not as sickening as yesterday’s blatantly racist cartoon, but it really makes you feel sorry for the people of Burma, without whose suffering Aung Zaw would probably have to get a real job.
I know you think it’s your job to tell others to do some soul-searching, Aung Zaw, but I think it’s time you finally took your own advice.