‘Pris­oner of Con­science : My steps Through In­sein’ launches in English

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - LAE PHYU PYA MYO MYINT lae­phyupya@gmail.com

ASURGEON, ac­tivist, writer, and re­cip­i­ent of sev­eral in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights awards, Ma Thida, who is known un­der the pseu­do­nym Suragamika cel­e­brated the launch of the English­language ver­sion of her book, Pris­oner of Con­science: My Steps Through In­sein at the PEN Myan­mar of­fice on Au­gust 23.

The book re­counts Ma Thida’s ex­pe­ri­ence as a po­lit­i­cal pris­oner in In­sein Pri­son and de­tails her re­la­tion­ship with Vi­pas­sana, a form of med­i­ta­tion she used to cope dur­ing her time. Though a trans­la­tion, the English ver­sion re­tains the ded­i­ca­tion by Burmese poet Sa­yar U Tin in the orig­i­nal Myan­mar lan­guage.

Famed Myan­mar writer Ma Thanegi was struck by Ma Thida’s work, not­ing that any au­di­ence in­ter­ested the book will find a way to read it – in ei­ther Myan­mar or English. “An in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence will take in­ter­est in this book be­cause its na­ture and sub­ject are so unique and rather strange. I am very pleased with this book,” she said.

Ma Thida says she would not have sur­vived In­sein Pri­son were it not for Vi­pas­sana, and those who fol­low Bud­dhism will un­der­stand how her faith and con­cen­tra­tion on Bud­dhist teach­ings lifted her in times of strug­gle.

“I would like to share the mes­sage that although we may for­give the peo­ple who are re­spon­si­ble for my case, they also need to beg for for­give­ness,” Ma Thida said.

Still, some of the book’s key con­cepts may be dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand. As with ev­ery trans­la­tion, there is never an ex­act trans­fer of mean­ing.

To that Ma Thida says sim­ply, “Very well.” She is pleased only that her story is be­ing told and pub­lished with such a fer­vor. Plans are un­der way to trans­late her ac­count into Ger­man and Ital­ian.

Ma Thida’s har­row­ing story has al­ready reached a wide au­di­ence, with a new and in­creased pop­u­lar­ity in Myan­mar and neigh­bour­ing Thai­land. The Myan­mar lan­guage ver­sion known as San­chaung, In­sein, Har­vard was pub­lished by Ngardo Sar­pay in 2015, though the pub­lish­ing house has re­cently re-re­leased the book. Chi­ang Mai’s Silk­worm Books pub­lish­ing house and Siam Paragon’s Cen­tre of Asian Books store launched the English­language ver­sion on July 28.

Pris­oner of Con­science: My Steps Through In­sein can be pur­chased at TAB Book Cen­tre and Myan­mar Book Cen­tre in Yangon for US$19. You can also pur­chase the book on­line at http://silk­worm­books.com/ prod­ucts/pris­oner-of-con­science.

Photo: Zarni Phyo

Ma Thida presents the English-lan­guage ver­sion of her book, Pris­oner of Con­science: My Steps Through In­sein, at the PEN Myan­mar of­fice on Au­gust 23.

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