“Last year, during the water festival, I went for a drink with my friend who is a policeman. I asked him if he knows anything about the Daewoo gas exploration off the Arakan coast. I was just asking, but he got angry and left”.
“A few days later, they (the police) came looking for me, but I was out fishing. When I came back, my wife was waiting for me at the jetty and told me not to come back to my house. I ran away and hid at a friend’s house. I asked my cousin to take care of my farm in my absence. He gave me money and I ran to Rangoon”.
“But I was too afraid so I ran to the border and then ran into Thailand”.
KK’s fears were justified.
“When I was in Thailand, I called my wife. She told me that the police came to our house again and asked where I was. When my father told them he didn’t know, they hit him”.
“Hit! Hit! Hit!” KK said, his hand going up and down every time he repeated the word.
“My father is an old man. A few days later, he coughed up blood. They rushed him to the hospital but he died on the way…”
“I dare not go back. If they did this to my father, imagine what they will do to me”.
JJ dreams someday of being reunited with his family, and giving his children an education.
“I want to bring my wife here, but I think it is impossible because of the children”.
“When I talked to my daughter, she told me that she wants to be a teacher. She wants to teach other people. She is very smart. Everybody tells me she is smart. I want to send money back so that she can continue her education and be a teacher some day”.
I look at him and think of my niece, who is the same age as his daughter.
KK sends money back to his family every month. But he has stopped sending money ever since he was made redundant two months ago because he didn’t have any papers or work permits. He doesn’t know what will happen to him or his family.