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The struggle

I came home to find that I did leave some books behind here at that I didn’t take with me. Amongst the pile that got left behind, there was a thin black book that I didn’t quite remember. I, by the way, know where each one of my books were bought, which were bought in a particular batch, who was with me that day, the order in which I read them et al. So I picked this one up and found that it was autographed. Tenzin Tsundue, Chennai, 16th August it said.

It all came back to me in a flash. When I was in college, we once had a signature campaign for free Tibet. Mr. Tsundue’s latest book of poems was on sale and I was so impressed with the way that man spoke, I bought a copy. I’m not a particularly huge fan of poetry. But his poetry was so simple and sincere.

My Tibetanness

Thirty-Nine years in exile.
Yet no nation supports us.
Not a single bloody nation!

We are refugees here.
People of a lost country.
Citizen to no nation.

Tibetans: the world’s sympathy stock.
Serene monks and bubbly traditionalists;
One lakh and several thousand odd,
nicely mixed, steeped
in various assimilating cultural hegemonies.

At every check-post and office
I am an ‘Indian-Tibetan’.
My Registration Certificate,
I renew every year, with a salam
A foreigner born in India.

I am more of an India.
Except for my chinky Tibetan face.
‘Nepali?’ ‘Thai?’ ‘Japanese?’
‘Chinese?’ ‘Naga?’ ‘Manipuri?’
but never the question-‘Tibetan?’

I am a Tibetan.
But I am not from Tibet.
Never been there.
Yet I dream
of dying there.

I’m tired

I am tired,

I am tired doing that 10th March ritual,
screaming from the hills of Dharamsala.

I am tired,
I am tired selling sweaters on the roadside,
40 years of sitting, waiting in dust and spit.

I am tired,
eating rice ‘n’ dal
and grazing cows in the jungles of Karnataka.

I am tired,
I am tired dragging my dhoti
in the dirt of Manju Tila.

I am tired,
I am tired fighting for the country
I have never seen.

I’m in awe of their strength. How deep rooted that faith must be I wonder. To fight for a cause, a cause that bigger than one’s life and everything that engulfs one’s being. The passion has got to be infectious. But when the passion and the strength wear off, the faith, that still drives all of this must still be quite strong.

I remember standing in the temple, my eyes closed, brows knit in concentration, fervently praying. The unquestioned faith that I was convinced about. I believed that I would get that new tricycle if I prayed hard enough. Years later, my wants grew, and there I was standing in the same temple. My eyes are closed, I want to pray. I want to believe that my faith is strong. But somewhere, a ray of doubt creeps in. This time I’m not so sure. The faith is not enough.

To the people who’s faith has remained steadfast after all the draining struggle, I salute you!


21 thoughts on “The struggle

  1. Brilliant poems. I really liked the My Tibetanness. Wow. You can feel his thoughts. Moving indeed.

  2. yeah… the strength with which they fight for teh nation is really heroic… i had some close tibetean friends, and man, i have to salute the vigour with whihc they defend their cause…
    havnt heard about the poet, but the poems r sure striking.
    you remember every single thing abt books? awsome. I dont even remember who all have taken which all books from my shelf…

  3. the poem is so darn striking..
    wat belief n faith- single-minded indeed..
    we change clothes, relationships, careers and ourselves over the years, i wonder how these guys who stand firm in their faith inspite of the human mind’s impulsive vagaries..

    I wish each of us stood by and for a cause, a cause that stand tall on its own-unless we swear by something we truly believe in, life truly doesn’t have a purpose 🙂


  4. I liked the poems…as u said simple, straight and honest emotions.

    I guess, to have an undying faith requires a kind of innocence which in these days no one is blessed with…but if people are out there with such a blessing sure it would be great!

  5. mouli > very moving!

    xh > that even I don’t remember. which is why I never lend my books to anyone 🙂

    Sachin > True!

    Jane > you put it better than I did

  6. vinni > does having a tattoo in Tibetan make me one?

    Ela > I wonder if what they saw around them gave them that strength. Maybe we’re still oblivious

    Arun > I did 🙂

  7. ah brilliant!

    I recently read about a bunch of tibetan students from pune burnt their legs as a mark of protest.

    These guys who havent been to their country in over 20yrs still have the fire to fight, while I see indian students who distance themselves from the motherland hardly 2yrs after leaving her shores….

    Keep writing such stuff and leave the cheap crude and crass stuff to me.

  8. The recent protests against China showed their spirit and strength in Character… I was surprised to see such huge protests across the world… even small population made it look big!

  9. Mayur > that guy’s stuff is very touching indeed..

    Anon > them you mean right?

    Prashanth > I’m still not very convinced about their modus operandi but this is just about their grit and faith!

  10. Sometimes our mind plays funny tricks on us, right? When defeat stares right at your eyes and you know for sure there is nothing could be done, what else do you have? Your mind and body needs something to lean on, so for someone who lost everything Faith seems the only option. For regulars like you and I, we have options, if we don’t get Ford, there is always Toyota. If we are pushed, then we can always lean on lesser end. Thus, for us it’s not the end of the world, so we have questions, but for them, there are no options, its victory or defeat. So faith comes unconditional.

    But, unconditional faith based on some return, is not good either. Given all that, Mr.Tsundue’s work doesn’t fit in the category of someone who lost everyone does it? Being a man with deep faith in Buddhism, Mr.Tsundue’s doesn’t put in a request to God in his poem right, he just reflects his mind. So I guess you read it right, we go to temple to get something, doesn’t matter whether it material or emotional benefit. We go there in need of something. Here is a man, who lost his home land, but his poem doesn’t address any request, just a reflection of mind.

    Good Post.

  11. Gayatri – I am not supporting their way of protest. I am just wondering abt the intensity! “Veezhvadhu naam aayinum vaazhvadhu naadaagattum”

  12. I remember some horrifying stories told by my Tibetan friend from college. It seems the Chinese would kill if one returns to Tibet after getting some education in India. I don’t know far it is true, but I have no reason to doubt what she said.

  13. lovely poem…i wish india would stop being like a coconut on the fence and openly support freedom for Tibetians.

    maybe its becoz iam stupid, but how i see it is that if my neighbour is being pushed out of his house by another neighbour, I would take an active interest in resolving the issue. Since ignoring it will only make the bully more arrogant and will earn only their contempt at your lack of balls and resentment from the other party. Either way my inactiveness will only bring me shame. I would step in.

    But then Iam stupid. It wont matter to me that I might be taking on someone who could beat me to pulp, becoz thats part of the deal whn u step into a ring but personal experience has shown that most of the time all it takes is someone to step in for a bully to step back and another fact is that you always tend to find someone or the other who will back you when you are fighting a gud fight…

    We have faced what they are facing now. Its regretful that we of all people are being diplomatic about a nations need for freedom.

    We as Indians should be about freedom. We should be willing to fight for it even for others.

  14. hi there
    i hav read few books and know few more, but didnt come across this,
    but the poems are simple n clear as u said,
    i do try to write few the so called poems though i’m not very fluent in this language

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