Monday, January 14, 2008

8. Emuntaya escapes from Dala

Meanwhile Emuntaya handed over the gold that he had been entrusted with to Binnya Dala as instructed by the king.

He had a raft constructed of banana stems and hid his sword in one of these. He lay stretched out like a corpse smearing his face with turmeric. Then he was rolled up in a tattered reed mat. Four women with hair unraveled beat their breasts with their fists and cried out in lament:

"Others have their husbands to comfort them in these difficult times but you choose to leave us at a time when the visitation of war brings famine upon us."

This little scene was played out near the Lion Gate where it could be seen by the Burmese on the other side.

He was then placed on the banana stem raft with an earthen plate of rice and a whole chicken near his head lit by a glowing torch. The raft was cast of and the women gave a fearful whoop of lamentation and a final burst of breast beating.

As the raft drifted close to one of the Burmese pickets keeping watch in boats, the small raft was pushed away into the current and carried steadily upstream by the tide. By the time that the village of Tapauk Tanaut was reached the picket boats had been left far behind so that Emuntaya climbed ashore after taking out the hidden sword and proceeded to Pegu.

Around midday back in Dala the Burmese troops called out for Emuntaya to come out if he was to come out at all. From the town came the reply that he had already left at dawn. The Burmese troops that had been waiting for him since dawn let out a string of abuses (laughed derisively).

(edited version of San Lwin’s translation, 142)

Version in Harvey’s History of Burma (1925), taken from the Hmannan Yazawin:

"Then prince Minrekyawswa shouted out to prince Binnyadala "Emuntaya spake untruth and hath done me disrespect. By guile hath he entered the town. But if he can come out and return to his king, I will give him great gifts." When Prince Binnyadala told these words to Emuntaya, he said, "Son of my glorious master, tell them that Emuntaya will go up to Pegu tomorrow." And the Burmese shouted, "Hath Emuntaya wings to fly above? Or is he a snake that can creep beneath? He entered the town by guile only." And Emuntaya answered them, "I shall win forth, keep what guard you please." And prince Minyekyawswa charged his captains saying, "Tommorrow Emuntaya will come forth, saith he. Keep ye watch to take him." And they kept double watch by land and water. But Emuntaya gave unto the king's son Binnyadala the five viss of gold that the king had entrusted unto him, and then he made the counselors and captains go far away, and before dawn he caused men to make a raft of plantain trees, and he thrust his sword in one of the trees. And he made himself appear like a corpse, smearing his cheeks and ears with turmeric, and wrapping his body around with old matting. And four or five women let down their hair and beat their breasts and wept as they wailed "Other husbands cleave to wife and child through good and ill, and forsake them not in war or famine. But thou has forsaken us and gone away. What shall we do, thy wife and orphans in this cruel war, this cruel famine?" Thus wailing they lifted up the corpse, while the Burmese soldiers who were near the Shan-Death gate of the town looked on. Gently the women laid the body on the plantain raft, with an earthen dish and a cup of rice and a chicken; and they lit oil lights and placed them at the head, and pushed forth the raft into the middle of the stream. And the women followed it beating their breasts and weeping and crying aloud Shall thou forsake us tus?" But the raft floated along and came near a Burmese boat, and the Burmese said "See! It is a corpse." and they pushed it away with a bamboo. And the raft was carried up stream by a strong flood tide, and when it had come to Ta-paw-ta-ngauk [in Pegu district near Kyaut-tan] because it was now far from the Burmese boats, Emuntaya took his sword out from the plantain log and went up to Pegu...and Prince Minyekyawswa sent a messenger to Pegu...and the Messenger asked King Razadarit saying "My master asks if it be true that Emuntaya hath returned to thee, as men say." And king Razadarit called Emuntaya and he came before the messenger. And when the messenger saw him, he gave him a horse with golden trappings and a velvet robe from prince Minyekyawswa." (Hmannan II.44, quoted in Harvey, 1925, 84-85)