Sunday, June 12, 2011

When one person transforms your life

The loudspeakers blared , "Last call for passengers flying from London to
Bangkok on British Airways flight number BA756", Angus realized that he couldn't
delay anymore and waved bye to his parents and friends for the last time.
First in his family to ever travel abroad, he was making his parents very
proud. Angus saw the tears on his mother's eyes and his legs shaked, knowing fully
that there was every possibility that his mother might see him next time in
a coffin.
As the flight took off, he was lost in thoughts about the assignment. Angus
was a contract reporter for BBC as his first full time job straight out of
college at Oxford. Through out his teenage years, he dreamt of writing for
this media powerhouse, and five months since joining them, life was not good
for him. He hadn't published a single story yet and after first few months
of pampering, the editor-in-chief was losing his humor on him.
And as luck would have it, Myanmar was witnessing a major political
suppression by its military junta dictator, Than Shwe. There was a need for the world to get the
clearer picture of what's happening inside Myanmar and BBC wanted to cover
Fully aware of how notoriously the military junta treated foreign journalists, no
journalists were too keen on taking up the assignments. Agnus, being
desperate for a story, accepted the assignment without giving it a thought.
After further research about the ground realities of how foreign journalists
were conveniently going missing in Myanmar, he realized what a soup he had
put himself into. His copy writing job at the local newspaper seemed more
appealing to him now but unfortunately that position was also taken. So with
no alternatives in horizon, Angus half heartedly applied for an entry
into Myanmar and much to his dismay he was granted a permit.
And now here he was on a rough aeroplane journey with gruffy air hostesses
serving cold soulless aeroplane food flying across Europe and South Asia to
goto Bangkok and from there, cross the border at Suang Phung into Myanmar.
After the 14 hour flight, Angus reached the Bangkok airport. After a sporadic
custom clearance where the custom officer kept glaring at his 15' camera
lenses, he finally managed to reach the arrival area. He looked for his
escort and saw a stout little guy waving a placard with his name on it.
Angus took a sigh of relief and marked the placard holder. "Mr. Wilkins !
Welcome to Bangkok. I am your escort - Aliak and I am responsible to help you
cross the border to Myanmar" - blurted out the escort. Doubting Aliak's ability
to drive a car straight, Angus had limited faith in reaching Yangon at all
and the possibility of this project failing lurked on the horizon. Half
expecting sandy uncemented roads with bullock carts on them, Angus begun his
one endeavor with the craziness of Indo-China. He couldn't have been more
wrong. Bangkok was a throbbing city with modern skycrapers and 8 lane
expressways. Angus was surprised to see this modern metropolis and was
pretty amused by how little the west knew about the East.
Nonetheless, without wasting a moment, Aliak started on his 6 hour ride to Suang Phung.
The drive was uneventful and Angus was at the Myanmar-Thai border at Suang Phung. The
Thai custom officer smiled at him before inspecting his papers and he was
escorted towards the Myanmar border. What he saw next gave him an indication how complicated his assignment is going to be.
The Burmese border post was heavily fortified with atleast a batallion
guarding the gates. With a fake act of confidence, Angus presented his
papers to the Burmese custom officer. Angus gave a smile and none was
returned. The officer was clearly bored and nothing could have excited him
more than end of his duty today. But looking at Angus's papers, suddenly
there was this sense of urgency and excitement in his voice. He made a call
and spoke quickly and loudly in Burmese. Soon, Angus was escorted inside and
3 officers questioned his purpose of visit. Angus explained - "Sir,  As
explained in the document, I am a wild life photographer capturing the famed
wild butterflies of Myanmar". The tallest among the 3 officers stood up and
said in broken English-" As you British say, cut this bullshit. Mr Wilkins,
we very well know why you are in Myanmar. Under the W.W.F treaty, we can't
reject your entry into our country but I promise you, if you click a single
picture outside the horizons of the butterflies or if you speak to any
locals here, you will not see your motherland again. Two of my guards will
stay with you at all times" Angus was shell shocked to see his well versed
plans in jeopardy. He was no spy but even a novice understood that how badly
his assignment was sidelined and the prospect seeing homeland seemed bleak.
Nonetheless, putting a brave face, Angus nodded in acceptance to what the
colonel had to say. "So, shall we begin? Gentlemen, we should leave
immediately. There are loads of butterflies waiting to be clicked from this
beautiful camera" With a curved smile on his face, the colonel bid farewell
and the soldiers were set to escort this golden haired man into the
interiors of the wilderness of Myanmar.
While in the jeep enroute to Kyeitall Forest area, Angus's mind was racing hard. He
wasn't sure how to get rid of these 2 unwanted escorts and at the same time,
he had to get in touch with the local sleeper contact of BBC in Yangon. He
was still lost in his thoughts, that the jeep shrieked to halt. The younger
among the two soldiers said in broken in English - 'You England? You have
chewing gum and cigarettes?" Angus not sure whether offering cigarettes and
chewing gum to a soldier was considered a bribe, took the bait and gave away
his last box of cigarettes and his only chewing gum strip. The young
soldiers grinned with their visibly stained teeth adding to Angus's
annoyance. The young soldier lit a cigarette and took a deep puff. He
offered it his companion and they greedily puffed it quickly.
Visibly content, the older of two said "I know you no photographer. I know
you reporter." The two started giggling loud and started murmuring in
Burmese. Angus wisely kept silent very well knowing that whatever he said
would most probably be used against him.
The soldier continued, "I can help. 100 dollars". Angus was alarmed for two
One by the lack of patriotism among the soldiers as they were well aware that his reporting will have extreme reactions Internationally and could potentially harm their country's image abroad.
Secondly, how could he trust these 2 rookies. If he gives them the money, then thats potentially accepting his reporter status. They might double cross him, keeping the money and submitting him to the authorities.
However, what were his alternatives? With the soldiers in his tail, there is no way he could perform his journalism tasks. He didn’t travel 6000 miles to click pictures of butterflies. He could visualize the not so amused look on Mr. Greene's face when he would have pictures of butterflies to show as his contribution to this project.
So, realizing that he didn't have an alternative, Angus sheepishly took out $10 bills from his carefully strapped travel pouch. Before he could count them and hand them over, the  soldiers grabbed the bills and with a look of 2 children who were going to get a treat of ice cream for the first time in their lives, they begin counting and recounting the bills. Everytime Hamilton's face resurface on the bill, it reminded Angus of the painful irony that a country which strived for G.B. Pounds a couple of decades back so seamlessly adapted to the U.S.D. Angus philosophically murmured to himself that this world is always in transience, there are no final destinations.
Once the soldiers were satisfied by the counting, they grinned widely. Angus uncertain what should be his reaction, offered them cigarettes. The smaller among the two grabbed the entire pack with his grin widening to the shape of the alphabet D.The driver took a wild swirl and took the jeep off the road. He took the jeep inside the forests, skillfully avoiding trees. Angus though terrified, chuckled and thought to himself that atleast these little Yellow brats know how to drive well. The jeep halted after a few minutes drive and the 2 soldiers took out a bundle from under the driver's seat. Angus looked in fascination while the soldiers switched into civilian clothes trying to emulate Texan ranchers. They hid the jeep beneath the heavy vegetation, walked to the highway and flagged a truck. Angus chuckled again, "This is going to be one wild ride !!"
The soldiers stuck to their word and Angus was given free ride to work enroute to Yangon. He assiduously went to task, interviewing Burmese nationals in the villages, on the highways and in the towns. He visited their homes, heard their horrid tales of the military junta's brutality and clicked pictures for proof. In those 5 days of travelling through rural Myanmar, Angus realized that the few things he took for granted back at home was the highlight of a rural Burmese dweller's life. "Need to focus on the task" Angus reprimanded himself and set his mind onto interviewing his last candidate, hereby the most important one. He was going off the highway deep into disturbed dense Rakhine Yoma forests for a rendezvous with one of the commanders of the rebellion.
This was the most critical part of his assignment and also the most dangerous. The army soldiers were forbidden to enter the village and they stayed back on the highway. It was planned that rebels would escort him from the highway to their village. On the bright full moon night, Angus with jitters in his mind, waited patiently on the highway for his ride to surface.
The full moon reflecting on the pond, the vast empty grasslands, the beautiful mountain landscape and not a soul in sight gave the background a rather dramatic twist. Angus smiled in this irony, "Here I am in middle of nowhere in a country where value of life is less than the value of a glass of milk and the mockery of the situation is that there is not a soul here and not a single life to be destructed. His thoughts were broken by loud roaring of a motorbike. As the bike approached near him, the roar got stronger. As the bike stopped in front of him, Angus was astonished. "Wow !!! The bike is a vintage 1952 truimph. These rebels have style !!" The rider demanded from him in broken english, "Hop in if you are Angus Wilkins ??" Angus intimidated by this scene, obediently obeyed the command and with a deep breadth, sat on the pillion seat. The bike roared louder and the rider took a sharp turn into the forests. The bike jumped around the rough roads, turning and swinging, promising never to halt. After a never ending ,spine breaking quarter hour ride, finally the bike came to a halt. The rider pointed Angus to step down and wait. He whistled in a very typical tone and somewhere a whistle came back and there was wild frenziness around that area like when bees buzz when their hive is attacked. Jeeps glared and motorcycles roared, and there were people all around. "Aha, so this is how rebels assemble", mumbled Angus to himself innocently. A Toyota SUV appeared out of no where and the commander of the rebels disembarked from the front seat. The commander seemed out of place with his composure and intelligence acting like a halo over his head. To Angus’s pleasant surprise, the commander himself was an alumni of Oxford and had quit his lucrative medical career in London to fight for the cause of his people, the Burmese people. Angus spoke to the commander for over an hour learning more about the problems faced by locals and clicking pictures.
The calmness and serenity exhibited by the rebel leader was extremely contagious to him. Angus felt extremely insignificant comparing his own life issues with the atrocities and problems faced by these rebels . Lost in these thoughts, the ride back was uneventful and quick. The rider dropped Angus on the highway and gave him a bow of head before zooming back from he came. Angus waved back knowing that that this experience was inked into his mind and soul for ever.
He was alone on the highway and it was almost dawn. His army escorts were not be seen anywhere. Getting impatient and infused with the confidence of meeting the most dangerous man in Myanmar, Angus in his sense of invincibility, decided to complete the last leg of his journey to Yangon on his own. He waved at the first bus and it screeched to halt. The bus was tattered from every possible angle with its color distantly recognizable and its window panes shattered. "In 99% of the world, it would be illegal to run this bus on the road" exclaimed Angus. However, mesmerized by his adventures, Angus got on the bus and instantly hated his decision. If the bus was a disaster from exteriors, it was a catastrophe from inside. All the seats were taken but one, the last corner seat on the bus. Angus congratulating his luck galloped to the vacant seat. The adjoining seat was occupied by a passenger in a deep slumber with the entire body covered by a torn and heavily used blanket. Angus politely tried waking up the passenger to let him pass to the vacant seat. He initially tried to wake up the passenger's vocally, however when that didn’t help, he gently shook the passenger. That didn’t have any positive impact too. Clearly annoyed, Angus didnt have a choice - He shooked the passenger hard and then ultimately removed the blanket. Underneath the blanket was the most delicate girl’s face, Angus had ever seen. Finding herself unshielded from her blanket, the girl gave a wild shrill shriek. She non-chalantly kept muttering something in Burmese which was comprehensible to everyone on the bus except Angus. All the occupants of the bus turned their heads and were staring unblinkingly at him. Angus could easily visualize the sentiments of the audience - A 6 feet 2 inches foreigner harassing a tender little villager girl. He sensibly backed off and started apologizing profusely. However on contrary, his attempt to speak had the opposite effect on the girl and it further agitated her. Angus unsure what to do, turned back and sat on the floor next to the bus conductor. Now, everyone had their eyes on the girl and the girl aware that everyone was watching her, gradually went silent. Angus, minding his own business, didn't react to this wryly silence. Apparently, realizing her overreaction, the girl got off her seat, walked to Angus and spoke in broken English, " You sit if you want in the seat. No problem". Angus had never heard a human voice more divine than hers, never seen a face more angelic and never seen so much of innocence flowing in one person. He mesmerizely did what was told her to do. He followed her orders and obediently sat down in his seat. Once the  fiasco was over, passengers in the bus returned to their business and everything went back to normal. But nothing was normal for Angus. He was nervous, sweaty and anxious. He had already destroyed his image in front of this goddess and now was thinking of damage control. Not sure how to move forward, he planned to take the universal fall back method of using humor. Before he could utter a word, his tormentor herself tried to speak in her best English" Sorry for anger. I was scared and fear". The journalist and writer in Angus kicked himself hard to restrain himself from correcting her grammar and smiled sheepishly.
She continued, " where you going"?
"Yangon, I am a wildlife photographer shooting the Burmese Butterflies"
She animatedly exclaimed "Butterflies !!!! Wow - I love butterflies. so beautiful colors. in Myanmar, butterflies very good. You should goto Bago Yoma. Very beautiful" While she continued her non-stop animated conversation about butterflies, Angus kept staring at the gleam in her eyes dumb foundedly. Once their eyes met, she felt his stares and went silent. Angus realizing her awkwardness introduced himself. "My name is Loing Naing", she offered shyly. Angus thought to himself, " Oh my God !!! Her name is the most divine one ever. You cannot not fall for a girl with such a beautiful name". While they were shaking hands, Loing's cheeks turned blushing pink.
"A nice name alone can make a woman so desirable and so attractive, however this one is an all round attraction", mused Angus. In the brief conversation, Angus had with Loing, he felt a connection and felt he has known her forever. Someone who would lose interest in a conversation in a few minutes, Angus didn't realize they have been chatting for the last couple hours. Loing was from a fishing village in south west coast of the country and was travelling to Yangon to ask for a loan from the bank to repair her boat. Her's and 8000 other fishermen's boats were damaged in the cyclones last year. There was no aid from the Government and with no source of income without their boats, people were dying of hunger on a daily basis. Her own father was bed ridden and wasn't able to recover due to lack of medicines. Angus was speechless. Here is a girl who has such a contagious laughter and the glow in eyes is mesmerizing but at the same time, at such a young age, she has witnessed so much of sadness and pain and still is optimistic and non-complainant about life. "Wow, this country and its people have given me a loads of food for thought" acknowledged Angus.
Angus was abruptly shaken from his thoughts by a strong metallic cranking sound from the front. The bus screeched to a halt and the driver after the briefest check, informed the passengers that there is a leak on the carburetter and the bus can't go further. Angus, who would get all stressed back in London, was astonishingly calm about it. Loing started packing her bags and suddenly Angus realized that maybe this is the end to their renzendvous. Thinking about their parting, Angus did panic and wasn't sure how could he hold this moment forever.
"How are you going to Yangon", he asked her. "Oh we will have to take a tuk tuk fifteen miles to the railway station and take a train to the capital". The word "we" was  reassuring for Angus and nothing else was required to be spoken. They both boarded a tuk tuk to the station. A tuk tuk is a passenger cart powered by a motorbike and is typical to Indo-China region. The ride with the Loing in the tuk tuk gave Angus a sense of belonging which he had never felt before. "Too many new emotions and experiences being unfolded for me in too little time", Angus noted.
His adventure quotient was at its peak. Here he was in a country he was not suppose to be in, where he didn't speak the local language, where he was completely misplaced, but still felt completely comfortable trusting a stranger. Loing apparently was feeling the magnetism too- she uncharacteristically was quiet and sheepishly looked at him every few moments. They reached the station but the next train was not due for the next 8 hours. Angus bought the tickets and was wondering how to best spend the evening. He was extremely tired after the long night and wanted some rest. Loing like a divine angel realized that and suggested taking rest in the nearby motel. Angus readily agreed and they walked to the motel. The so called 'motel' was the ugliest building Anghus had ever seen and its interior were filthier but Angus found the surroundings very serene and inviting. At the reception, a grinning manager welcomed them to Hotel Comfort. "Hotel Comfort looks very comfortable", chuckled Angus.
Playing it safe, Angus asked the manager "we want 2 single rooms please".
"Ngai Ngai .. No No waste money. we take one small room and i sleep on the floor"
"Are you sure? No problems taking 2 rooms"
"Are you sure? Its no problem"
" Ngai Ngai. Too much money. One room only"
"Ok. As you want"
Angus turned to the manager, " one double room please". The manager mumbled something incomprehensible in Burmese and reluctantly gave one set of keys.
There were only 5 rooms in the motel and all were in the ground floor. Angus unlocked the room and the two went inside. Angus could sense Liong's discomfort and to comfort her. excused himsef to talk to the manager. He had been with girls before but this felt weird. " Wow - am I falling for this girl !! "Not sure what it is but its special".  Fifteen minutes later when he returned back to the room, Liong was deep asleep on the bed.
" She is an angel God created with very delicate care". Angus whispered to himself.
Angus smiled and got himself a pillow and slept on the rug.
A few hours later, he woke up and found her soundly asleep. "Sleeping beauty !! arent you?" chuckled to himself.
His eyes fixed on her, he kept admiring her twitched lips, her ever-flowing hair, her innocent, inquisitive eyes and time seemed to have stood still. He was staring intently at her and her eyes opened. He instantly took his eyes off her and went to the toilet to wash his face. Once in the toilet, Angus cursed himself for getting caught in his staring act. He was still verbally assaulting himself while Liong entered the bathroom. She looked into his eyes and nothing else had to be said. They kissed and were lost in love for each other. It was getting dark and it was time to leave. While handing the key back, there was this unescapable chemistry in their eyes which the Manager couldn't help notice. "Hope Sir and madam enjoyed their stay", He wise cracked while taking the keys back. Liong coughed and the Manager went back to his own ways.
They reached the station, boarded the train and took the seats. Burmese trains are extremely congested and over packed and both of them were glued to each other. However, there was no awkwardness this time around and they both felt very comfortable with the contact.
Angus was in cloud nine. He had been with girls before but this was the first time it felt special. "Man, she is a keeper for sure", Angus thought to himself.
The train journey was uneventful except the continuous flow of passengers. The two held hands and their eyes were glued to each other through the entire journey.
Once in Yangon, Angus understood that they had to part ways for the time being as being a Westerner, he could easily cause trouble for Liong from the local authorities. Liong seemed grateful for Angus's empathy in this matter.
They both knew that they needed temporary space to understand where this was going but again parting is always difficult and today was no different.
"Let me finish my work here and we will meet at the same time, same place in 2 days", Loing said with a heavy heart.  
"I am not sure if I can survive 2 days without you", Angus stated matter of factly in a gloomy voice.
"I am sure you ll survive", Loing teased him.
"Hang on. Let me atleast have a picture of yours for my memory", chided Angus.
He clicked several pictures of hers before she shyly turned and waved and kept walking towards the bus stand. Angus eyes didn't leave her till she became a dot in the horizon. "Wow, never knew this could be so hard", Angus told himself not knowing that they are not going to meet again for the next 25 years.
Angus's thoughts returned to the present. He was at the Heathrow and the airport Public Addressal System announced the departure of his British airways flight from London to Bangkok. Angus thought to himself, "Its been 25 years but the airport announcements sound the same. Wish life could be as perpetual as that". After 25 very long years, he was going back to Yangon and the trip reminded him of his wild adventure through the forests of Thailand and Myanmar . Myanmar had vastly improved its international relations and it was easier to smuggle in from India compared to Thailand.
Angus's thoughts returned 25 years back when he had parted from Liong at the Yangon Railway Station. After Liong had left, he flagged a taxi to the city. He checked into his hotel, freshened up and walked around the city. He dare not reveal his identity of being a journalist in the capital and was content being a tourist eagerly waiting for the 2 days to pass before he could reunite with Liong. If the villages were poor, Yangon exemplified poverty in its most intense forms. People slept on the roads, everyone looked malnourished and most used rags as their outerwear. Angus thoughts went back to Liong and her cheerfulness. Angus failed to comprehend,"How could someone be so cheerful and full of life in these grief stricken conditions?". His admiration and fondness for her kept rising astronomically. "I am one lucky bloke". He wandered around the streets of Yangon looking to buy something exquisite for Liong and finally chose a beautiful pink shawl.
Time is such an irrational entity. When you want it to quickly expire, it takes its own sweet time. Somehow, Angus managed to pass the 2 days and he reached the Railway station an hour in advance. He was dressed in his best with flowers in one hand and the shawl in the other. He waited and kept waiting. He was confident that Liong knew there was something special between them and blindly trusted her. It was midnight before he realized that Liong is not coming and he with a heavy heart, took a taxi back to his hotel. Fully aware of the danger, he still went to the local police station. The Police as expected was of no help. Paranoid, anxious and helpless, he went back to the hotel. The receptionist who could easily read Angus's emotional state enquired if things were smooth. The receptionist was a stout balding man in his late forties. His batch announced him as "Yun". Angus realizing that without local support it would be impossible to find her, explained the situation to the receptiuonist. Yun promised his best efforts in finding Liong and would report back the next day. After a sleepless night, Angus went to lobby to check for any developments. The receptionist from last night was not be seen, however there was a note for him. "Meet me at cafe Dibars at 11 am", the note said. There was something ghastly about the note which made Angus uneasy. Cafe Dibars was in Thingangyun, an area which even the locals avoided leave alone foreigners. Nonetheless risking it, Angus reached the cafe at 11 am. He impatiently waited for Yun who came in fifteen minutes later. Yun entered breathlessly and started rapidly blurting out his findings.
"Very dangerous. Big trouble. Your girl in danger. She shouting outside Parliment. Police taking her and locking in Insein Prison. No escape. Very dangerous".
Apparently, Liong had gone to the authorities pleading for aid for her village. No one cared and this apathy forced her into protesting outside the Parliment. The Military Junta would have none of it and the Police arrested Liong locking her in the notorious Insein Prison where half the prisoners have been known to have disappeared over the period of their sentence. Angus couldn't believe what he heard and was aggravated immensely. Without thinking of the consequences, he left the cafe and took a cab to the Parliment. The in-control self of Angus was asking him to calm down but emotions were flowing too deep to pay heed to any rationality. Breathing furiously and sweating profusely, he entered the Parliment Visitors Area. "I am here to see the interior minister", shouted Angus to the guard. The guard not speaking English,went to call his supervisor. Seeing the gate unguarded, Angus sneaked into the Parliment. He had gone in a few steps when another guard spotted him and warned him to stop. Angus didn't pay heed and increased his pace. The security guard whistled a warning and several guards entered the lobby. Angus was outnumbered and didn't stand a chance. The guards grabbed him and his attempt to cut loose was subdued by a powerful blow on the head by one of the guards. The blow wounded his forehead and Angus lost consciousness. When Angus woke up, he was in a comfortable bed in a very British styled room. "This doesn't look like Yangon", exclaimed Angus rubbing his forehead to alleviate the throbbing pain.
"Well, technically you are not but physically you are. Welcome to the British Embassy. I am Sir Nicholas Fenn, Great Britain's Ambassador to Myanmar."
"What am I doing here? What happened to Liong?"
"I heard about Liong when we went to collect your belongings from the Hotel. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about that. She, as people here say,  has gone to the grind. I mean she enraged the Junta and is not coming out of Insein anytime soon"
"But you need to help me. We will raise this issue with the UNO, the UNESCO"
Sir Fenn cut Angus off, " Look Mr. Wilkins, we have already taken a lot of flak to ensure nothing happens to you. You have caused a stir between the already hostile relations between the two countries not to forget the asperity BBC faced because of you. We have cut a deal with the authorities here. They will not press charges but you have to leave immediately and are banned from entering Myanmar forever."
"Is this a joke? I am not leaving before finding Liong."
"Mr. Wilkins, thats not an option for you. You board a chartered flight to Kolkata in India, expenses courtesy of the British treasury. From there, your tickets are booked to London. To ensure that these travel arrangements are fulfilled, we have Mr. Edgar from the embassy accompanying you."
Angus tried his level best to convince the Ambassador to let him stay but he was forced to leave Yangon and Loing.
Another announcement shook Angus. His thoughts switched back from the past, he realized that if he doesn't hurry, he is going to miss his flight. "These dreaded airports and these cold hearted airlines", he swore to himself. Once on the plane, seated and secured, Angus remembered his flight back from Yangon to London 25 years ago.
In the air above the Yangon city, Angus had taken an oath to come back for Liong.
Back in London, all his attempts to get Liong out of the prison failed. He tried again to ilegally enter Myanmar but Thai authorities anticipating his intentions, stopped him at Bangkok.
However, he got frequent updates about Liong captivity in the prison from Sir Fenn as well as Yun and he sent money to her family through them. He exchanged messages with her whenever he could and promised her that he would for come for her.
Angus returned to London heart broken and ardorless. He lost his passion for life but a new passion fueled inside him. Knowing that BBC was too conservative for him, he quit to rage a war against military dictators globally. For the next 25 years Angus researched and published revealing articles about the barbarism of Kambanda in Rwanda, Saddam Hussein in Kurdistan, Tito in Yugoslavia and Savimbi in Angola. His articles fueled international pressure of these dictators and helped millions in those regions live a better life. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his contribution to journalism and while celebrating this success in a party, he got a call from Yun. Yun in his unusual calmness informed him that Liong was no more and had wished Angus to be there for her funeral. Angus quickly excused himself from the party. He knew he had to be there in Yangon at any cost. He dialed his travel consultant and got his travel arrangements done via India.
While still lost in his thoughts, Angus didn't realize that the flight reached New Delhi.  Knowing that he couldn't legally enter Myanmar, he had arranged to smuggle in through India and would take a flight from Delhi to the border city of Kohima. His entry into Myanmar was much less eventful compared to his entry 25 years back. Angus was received by Yun and he requested immediately to be taken to Liong's village where the services were planned. Yun drove Angus to Liong's village for the funeral. Once next to her body, Angus lost all his composure and broke down crying like a child. Angus was inconsolable and had to be carried away into the jeep. He didn't speak a word on the way back to Yangon and Yun was uncharacteristically silent as well. Angus reached Yangon and requested to be taken to the railway station where he spent his life's happiest moments. The motel had not changed a bit and he requested the keys to the same room where Liong and he had fabricated their love. On his drive back, Angus noticed that the city seemed to have been left behind in this era of modern advancement. The quality of life of the people had remained stagnant and poverty was abundant. This unfair treatment of the Burmese people by military junta infuriated Angus further and he pledged to bring a change. He knew he had the resolve and more importantly the support of the most important person in his life, that of Liong.  

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