We move to New Thatkaybyin, close to where Mum was born. It is on the outskirts of Sittwe, where nearly all the city’s Muslim neighbourhoods, except Minghala, are located. On arrival, I discover that Granny’s so-called abundant ponds in her backyard are actually really small, with just a few fish swimming around, which she sells at the market or occasionally fries up to eat. I soon find out that the house where Mum used to live in Thatkaybyin is now part of Military Training Camp 313, where Rohingya and other prisoners are interrogated and tortured.
The population of Thatkaybyin has been relocated eight miles away to New Thatkaybyin, which is where Granny now lives. The original village was ransacked during Operation Clean and Beautiful Nation, in which every house was searched, and hundreds of villagers, including some of my uncles, cousins, and mother’s friends, were interrogated and arrested, while others were forced to surrender their property or pay fines. Some disappeared, always for the same crime of simply existing.
The authorities make families submit an official list of family members that allows them to monitor the movements of every person in every household as they patrol our neighbourhoods. If a family member fails to return home before curfew, he or she is arrested. If someone disappears, the whole family suffers. We are now registered on Granny’s family list and, every evening, we have to be back in her hut before sunset. They are keeping a close watch on us.