A Torn Yellow Teddy Bear on Owl Creek Bridge by Papillon

Papillon Burma - Yellow Teddy Bear

Written by Burmese writer Papillon (ပါပီယွန်), A Torn Yellow Teddy Bear on Owl Creek Bridge* (ဇီးကွက်ချောင်းတံတားပေါ်က အဝါရောင်ဝက်ဝံရုပ် အကျိုးအပဲ့လေး) gives a compelling story narrated by a male protagonist who shares about the life experience while he was studying abroad and the relationship with a girl he met there. *The title of this book is referenced to An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce but nothing related to its story. The writer’s pseudonym is the reverse-romanization of Henri Charrière’s nickname ‘Papillon’ in Burmese.

The story started with the protagonist receiving approval of visa to study in England. Then to Heathrow Airport to his university campus with money for first semester and a few extra only. He met a Burmese girl who was visiting his campus and from that, a beautiful story blossomed. The girl was a few year younger than him but she’s academically brilliant and financially comfortable.

As he continued telling about his life at the university, the interwoven stories of his struggles—working part time for the school fees and his living expenses—and his relationship with the girl. It had everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly of relationship between two people of different lifestyles. They followed some literary destinations that served as the backdrop of the novels they both love. As they lived in different towns, they visited each other frequently and spent the weekend together. The girl wanted him to succeed and she helped him in his academic as well as in his financial drought. From time to time, his tedious schedule and his inferiority clashed with the girl’s pushy suggestion and help.

The story itself is entrancing and the narration is quite subtle and fast, yet tidy. I really love how the narrator’s life events intertwined with his relationship and how their love story evolved as well as the way it ended. It was enthralling and somewhat reminiscing to read. The use of Scarborough Fair in the story was a nice touch, too.

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