Former singer Daw Mar Mar Aye marked her 70th birthday on July 25 by releasing a Myanmar-language memoir originally published as a serial in a local magazine starting in 1990.
Yin Phwint Kyae Par Tha Nge Chin (Dear Friend, Look Deeply into My Heart) originally appeared in 20 parts in Mahaythi monthly magazine. The stories were based on a diary the author started keeping in 1970 after her divorce was announced in local newspapers.
Daw Mar Mar Aye has lived in the United States since 1998 and plans to return to Myanmar at the end of the year for a visit.
In the meantime, a video of the author talking about her book was presented at the launch ceremony at Central Hotel in Yangon on July 25.
“The diary was originally dedicated to my dearest son and daughter because I wanted them to know what happened between my husband — their father — and me. But in November 1972 I stopped writing because I didn’t want them to know the depth of my feelings,” Daw Mar Mar Aye said in the video.
“Then I thought that if I wrote for my friends instead of my children, I could write more openly. So I continued writing my story under the title Tha Nge Chin Thot (To My Friends),” she said.
By the time she had finished her account, the story took up 12 handwritten diaries of 120 pages each.
A friend convinced her to publish the story, and an announcement about the publication even appeared in a local newspaper on June 30, 1973. But for reasons that Daw Mar Mar Aye did not explain, the book was never released.
It wasn’t until January 1990 that the diary, now edited by the author for readability, started appearing in serial form in Mahaythi magazine and continued for 20 months.
“I lost some papers when I moved to America, but I tried to collect them all for publication of the memoir. The book ends on page 258 when I return to my parents’ house [following the divorce],” she said, adding that if readers respond positively to the book she would “try to continue writing”.
The book starts with Daw Mar Mar Aye’s first days of school and tells about how she met her first boyfriend, and how they subsequently parted ways.
According to the memoir’s account, she married her second boyfriend at the early age of 16. Although the marriage was happy at first, after their two children were born, her husband started casting doubts and causing problems.
Daw Mar Mar Aye said she kept quiet at first and did not tell others about her marital problems, but the situation became worse as her fame as a singer grew and as her husband started blaming her for traveling too much for her career.
Daw Mar Mar Aye later worked at Myanmar Radio and Television’s broadcasting department, a job from which her husband tried to force her to resign. They finally divorced, the account of which will come as a relief to most readers following the harrowing details of the marriage’s degeneration.
The book’s publisher, U Thein Lwin, said he did not have any problems releasing the memoir, but he did need to ask for permission from Daw Mar Mar Aye as well as from her daughter who lives in Yangon.
“I want let her fans know not only that she can sing very well, but also that she can write perfectly. I was a student of her singing course in the past and I appreciated all of her singing talent. And I knew that her story was published in a magazine, so I wanted to launch it as a book,” U Thein Lwin said.
He added that he would like to publish another book by Daw Mar Mar Aye after she returns to Myanmar in December.
Yin Phwint Kyae Par Tha Nge Chin is available for K3000 at bookstores throughout Yangon.