The Thingyan Days I Would Always Remember
My most memorable Thingyan days were when our family was still young. We had only two children then, a boy and a girl.The 3rd son was not yet born. Inside our compound in Yangon there is a well and when Thingyan comes around it became the rendezvous for both my 2 children and their friends (two girls) who lived opposite our house.
Every morning during Thingyan the children troops out with buckets and water guns ready to splash everyone passing by with Thingyan water. Our duty was to regularly refill the huge tub with water drawn from the well and keep an eye on them too. We had no electric motor to pump up the water from the well, just the old fashioned pulley system hanging on the crossbar above the well. My son would be armed with a water gun but the three girls would have small buckets in their hands.The children were so happy, splashing everyone in sight with Thingyan water.
Sometimes an overloaded Jeep or a small utility truck with revellers would detour into our small street to pick up someone. It was a great opportunity for the children to really engage in water fights: the revellers on the Jeep would taunt them or shout encouragement as they drive past.They might even throw back water from the huge drum they carried on their vehicle. Then the children would be extra happy to get back the response.
But this happens occasionally only. Most of the time the children wait for someone coming back from the bazaar, or someone they knew from the street to venture out or the milkman on his daily rounds. But if they see a gang of more aggressive children, armed with more water guns and assortment of armaments, advancing in the distance they would quickly steal inside the gates and hide behind the parents to emerge later after this gang had passed.
But one permanent victim of their assault was a young teenage boy, a little bit eccentric, who lived at the top of our street. He loves the children very much and the children are also not afraid of him, treating him as their very good friend. If there is nobody coming for the children to douse with water, he would volunteer. He would take off his shirt and parade up and down in front of the children and give them a chance to splash water on him. He would also make fun by sometimes soaping himself and letting the children pour water onto his head.
In the evening time there would be entertainment too. A visit to the prize awarding pandal situated near our house by the Kandawgyi Lake in the evening would also make the children happy. At the pandal there would be dancing and singing. Sometimes a competing troupe on a gaily decorated float will be there. They would stage dancing and singing and thangyat (a form of satirical verses) and short plays. Heaving the children onto our shoulders so that they can see too we enjoyed these entertainments.
But the children are so tired by that time. And as we walked back home they would become grouchy, grumpy and sleepy and we had to carry them home in our arms the whole way back.
And those were the Thingyan Days I always remember. Now the children are all grown-ups and we have become grandparents ourselves. But in our eyes they are still small children and tears well up in my eyes whenever I remember the Thingyan that was nearly 30 years ago.