In 1971, after my father retired from the United Nations, he realized that his Burmese passport had expired. He had been travelling on his UN passport so he had not been aware of this. When he applied for a renewal, he did not get any response. We believed his passport may have just sat on the desk of an official in the NY Mission, with staff too scared to take any action. After waiting for some time, my father wrote to General Ne Win in March of 1974. He also let him know that his health had not been good. Soon after, General Ne Win wrote back saying he just got the letter, was sorry that my father’s health was not good, and had just instructed staff in the Mission to renew his passport. The day he got his passport, hand delivered by a high official from the Burmese Mission in NY, my father felt at peace, knowing that any misunderstanding had been cleared. He had undergone serious cancer surgery recently but asked us about going back to Burma and finding a place to live there.
To fulfill my father’s last wish to go back to his beloved motherland, we decided to bring his body back to our Burma to be laid to rest. The tragic events that transpired during the course of those weeks, remain unforgettable in my personal memory, and in the collective memory of the Burmese people.
Saying Good Night
During the many years that I lived with my father and mother, I used to go to their bedroom each evening to say good night, then closed the door of their bedroom behind me. My mother once said she used to wonder how long those moments would last. I realized from her words that they cherished them. On the early morning of December 11, 1974, as I left the Cantonment Garden, I said “good night” for the final time to my father.
[The above is adapted, with the same title, from my previous writings on the 19th anniversary of my father’s passing]
Written by Aye Aye Thant
Posted by Khin Maung Htay</em