“I wanna go back home” are the words I frequently hear from San Kay Khine, whenever I visited her in the hospital. San Kay Khine is a 17-year-old girl who spent 5 years as a tortured captive at Yangon’s famous tailor shop and was eventually rescued after the release of a report by an investigative journalist.Though Kay Khine managed to escape, she suffered from broken bones in all the fingers from her both hands.Her arm was severely twisted and she initially could only stand for not more than 15 minutes.
Kay Khine is currently hospitalized undergoing several surgeries and treatments since she was rescued from her ordeal. During my first impression, She appeared to have a matured and calm demeanor. Almost forgetting what she had gone through before, I assumed to hear resentment towards the family who treated her badly. However what I heard constantly is her repeating, “I wanna go back home”.
I visited her home village without her to meet her parents. I had never known or been to her home village (Baw Lone Kwin Village) one of the remote village from Yangon District. As soon as I got to the village, I felt as if I had been there before. The rain trees and bamboos trees strewn around her house appeared familiar to me and so do the cows raised by her family. I felt welcomed instantly by the smell of soil after rain and the cool breeze passing from the paddy field. I felt like I could hear the giggles of San Kay Khine in her younger days playing with her friends; and imagined the ghost stories they shared at night with her friends. I felt like I am back home from a distance. That unexplainable feeling of nostalgia is strange but beautiful. It instantly made me attached to that little village. I breathed in her memory of her childhood in that village and captured her nostalgia.
Kay Khine has undergone several surgeries at the hospital for months and now under the guardianship of Ministry of Social Welfares. She still cannot be back home under her case is finished. She constantly repeats that she wants to go home, without knowing when she could finally return to her family .
“ Memory Lane” is a beautiful gift for both of us, San Kay Khine and I co joined to recreate her memories and visited her home village through her nostalgia.