The Lady was restless. She sat in her white wicker chair and looked out across Inya Lake. The frangipani trees rustled in the wind and she tilted her head up to breathe in their sweet smell. She wished the rain would come. The dust from the long Yangon summer was permanently suspended in the air and stuck in her throat. She wanted the rain to fall on the soft clay earth. She wanted to hear its heavy, soft rhythm – thud, thud, thud. It would cleanse the city as the waters snaked their way through the streets to take away the filth to the rivers. And there it would sit, coffee-coloured, like a disease waiting to spread.
She looked at Inya Lake through the razor wire – a makeshift prison to remind her of her house arrest. She longed to walk the streets of Yangon again – stroll around Shwe Dagon Pagoda and breathe the humid damp air in the old cathedrals. She remembered the flowering trees in Maha Bandoola Park. Their yellow blossoms so full and rich, they dripped with life. How she longed to breathe their perfume.
The blue waters of Inya Lake were calm and serene. They showed no hint of a dying country. Her eyes floated across the lake; the still water said nothing back to her.
A moment passed. A splash. Movement. The Lady squinted and leaned in to watch the commotion in the water. A moving object. Or a person? The unnatural movement told her it was not an animal.
She continued to stare across the smooth expanse of the lake broken by the turbulent water moving closer. It was a man. He looked like some sort of frog man with strange webbed feet and a clunky snorkel strapped to his head. He was heavy-set. Not some young student who’d decided to swim out to her house to show his allegiance. It had happened once before.
The Lady sat quietly and watched the man move forward. A number of locals stopped on the bridge and peered at the man. He was moving toward her.
The guards standing outside her house stood to attention. Alert, but unmoved by the man swimming with less elegance than a water buffalo. The Lady thought he would tire soon enough and perhaps drown; the lake was deep in parts. She wondered if she could persuade one of the guards to help him if that happened. She doubted the guards could swim.
The man kept moving forward, splashing and lapping at the water until he pulled his bedraggled, paunchy frame out of the water. A white man. The Lady sighed. What on earth was he doing here? A ruddy face and pale white skin – he was British.
His board shorts clung to him, sticky and dripping with the stagnant water. He squelched and squeaked his way up to the Lady’s house. The guards stood to attention, ready to pounce as he neared. Then he went out of sight under a hill.
The Lady sunk back into her chair. Perhaps he wasn’t a fanatic supporter of hers. Perhaps he was an expat, high on heroin and dared to do this stunt by fellow expats sitting back at the Inya Lake hotel, drinking gin and tonics as the sun went down. Whatever it was, she was glad it didn’t implicate her and wanted no further part of it.
She turned back to her novel and decided she’d done enough reading for today. She stood up and moved out to her garden to tend to her plants. It was a kind of freedom – something she was still able to do. The frangipani flowers, melting from the heat had fallen on the thick grass and left white dots scattered across the garden, almost like a bread crumb trail. Her eyes followed the trail and stopped when she saw him, standing in her garden.
The water dripped from him like fat monsoonal rain and fell on his feet encased in black and yellow flippers. The Lady drew in a sharp breath.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Don’t be alarmed, I haven’t come here to hurt you – I just wanted to see you.”
“Stop!” The guard cried. “Don’t move.”
Inspired by John Yettaw – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suu_Kyi_trespasser_incidents
© running with the beagle 2010