Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Woman on a blue stool

The last time we were in Burma, this (copied from travel journal) happened.

So we got on the bus and after it filled up the assistant (every bus has one) set out little blue stools (like the ones you can get at the dollar store) down the aisle. The baggage, boxes, etc. was piled into the area by the front door of the bus. Away we go - WooHoo! Photo: the "bus station" and the bus to Bago

Music pretty good, and we could hear it all because we were right in front of the speakers - I was about half deef to start - now eh, what did you say? We pass the back of Shwedagon and woman next to me offers prayer. Me too. I'm offering prayers for Burma, for the Burmese people. Pray to God for Burma and these people who suffer so much. The music on the bus is really pretty. It's hot on the bus - well, it's hot everywhere. The sun is on our side of the bus. My heart is aching for this land, these people, this beauty. We pass the British Cemetery - it's big, I offer prayer for the souls of these men who died and were buried so far from home.

I fall into conversation with the woman sitting on the little blue stool next to me. She tells me she is retired, a physician. She and her husband (also a doctor) have a small practice in a village near Bago. I ask her what is the biggest problem they see and she says, "Poverty." Diagnoses-wise, they see the basic primary care things, except more parasites. I ask her how people pay for the care and she smiles softly, "They cannot pay very much." I say, "So you are choosing to do this." And she looks at me directly and says, "Yes."
And I'm sure we could have visited their clinic there in Bago, surely helped a little. But I was weary as hell, as Bob Dylan sang, and it's been sick and suffering people for a long time and I decided to not say anything - just let it ride. In part, I wish we'd arranged a visit, but even now, as my strength slowly returns, I know I just didn't have it.

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