The story of Kee Kee, an unremarkable girl in an unremarkable town, growing up in the unremarkable country of Myanmar. Kee Kee knows the answer to the question we all ask ourselves - what is the purpose of life?
Kee Kee was 11 when she realised she knew what it took most people a lifetime to learn. But who would listen to her? No one. Certainly not any adult.
In her short life she’d already learned children’s opinions are never taken seriously, and she knew her place. She knew children were never asked what they thought. Her friends wouldn’t want to know either. They didn’t think they needed the wisdom she was ready to share. No, she’d keep this knowledge to herself until she was asked for it. She just needed to be asked.
Up until she was 11 her life was like that of any young girl growing up in Bagan in the newly named Myanmar. She was the youngest of 6 children, the others all boys. Her father was a driver of trucks, vans, cars, anything mechanical once his pony had died leaving him with only a trap. What use was a trap without a horse? He couldn’t haul the tourists who came to Bagan around the thousands of temples without a horse. A trap without a horse, no matter how old and scraggy he looked, was only useful for selling and pushing you into finding work from others who owned more than you. Her mother was a housekeeper for the local doctor. She also helped the ladies of the town when it came time for their ‘confinement’; she helped to bring the next generation of babies into Bagan. In what little spare time she had, she sold drinks from a small glass cabinet at the gate of their house. She had red plastic dinky tables with matching four legged stools set out in front of the cabinet and sometimes people would stop and sit while they drank their can of fizzy drink or bottle of water or glass of Myanmar beer, their knees up to their chest, their adult body too big for the nursery sized furniture. Usually it was strangers or tourists who stopped, because the cabinet was refrigerated, the drinks were cool and soothing in the heat. The locals went to one of the teahouses near the market in Bagan, where they were guaranteed to meet other villagers and could gossip, or talk business or match make for sons and daughters. They knew in this heat a hot sweet tea was the best thing to drink to keep you energized and cool.
A fairly unremarkable child in a fairly unremarkable family in a fairly unremarkable country in the great scheme of things, until Kee Kee, at the grand old age of 11 started to think about how she’d got where she was now.
What had led her to this point in her life where she felt she knew what it took most people a lifetime, if they were lucky, to learn? What had lead her to feel she could do anything she wanted, be anyone she wanted, and had the secret to success and happiness for the rest of her life? What made her different from all the other girls and boys she knew. The ones she heard doubting themselves, ‘I can’t do that. I could never be that brave.’ The ones she sensed felt invisible, powerless, who shyly waited around for others to tell them what to do, what to think and who they could be. What was it in her short life that had made her feel so calm, so in control, so unafraid? What was it that she so badly wanted to share, so desperately craved to be asked?
Kee Kee noticed she was exactly 11 years and 301 days old when she had figured it all out, and like most thinks Kee Kee did, she’d started at the end, and then worked out how she’d got there from the beginning.