Can I give you a hug? (May 23, 2003)

As far as I can recall, I don’t remember anyone except my wife would ask me the above question. What happened was this. As I mentioned in my previous journal, I went to the graduation party and met my old friends. Among them was Emily (not an exact name). She was a smart, talented and quiet lady. She was my co-worker before. After she moved to a different city, we lost contact with each other for years.

As I am the kind of person who value friendship in my priorities, I was so happy to see her again. Right after my wife, Than Than, showed me where my old friends were, I saw Emily and we shook hands as most Burmese people do. Then she asked me, “Can I give you a hug?” After that we hugged each other. It was the moment that proves true friendship, connection, and sharing love between us. That was a magic moment. I realized that we Burmese people need more hugs. Only shaking hands and saying words are not enough. We need hugs.

With my little knowledge, I have known that hugging among friends is a western way or western culture. Hugging might sounds crazy or inappropriate in Burmese culture or for many Burmese. They use different ways to show their friendship and love though. I think our love, care, and friendship truly flow within us by giving a hug to each other.

I remember another experience I had back in Burma. A friend of mine, who was a Chin lady invited me to come to their church meeting in Yangon. I went there and many unknown or new faces warmly welcome me and made me comfortable in the church. At one point, they asked every one of us to hug each other to show our love. We did and since then I realized hugging was a very important connection between human being to express their love, friendship and peace.

I believe that people will criticize or will not agree if two unrelated persons hug each other in Burma. I think we are wrong. We need hug and we need more hugs. The saddest thing in our lives is we don’t even hug our closest family members; mother, father, brothers, and sisters. It is not saying we don’t love them. Of course, we love them very much. The problem is we don’t show our love and we hide it inside. Don’t keep your love inside your heart, open it and show it. Just like a river. If you block the river’s flow, it floods. So let it flows and let love flows.

Next time, before someone asks for a hug, give him or her a hug first. Therefore, we Burmese need more hugs and more hugs and more hugs.