Tenzin Tsundue is a Tibetan poet born in exile in India, during the chaotic period of Tibetan refugee resettlement in the early seventies. He did his schooling in Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV), Pathlikuhl and later in Dharmasala. These are some of the poems taken from his book ‘Crossing The Border’


CROSSING THE BORDER

Creeping in the nights, hiding in the days,
We reached the snow mountains after twenty nights.
The border was away by several days still.
The rugged terrain withered us to strains.

Over our head a bomber flew,
My children shrieked in fear,
I covered them under my bosom.
Exhaustion tore my limbs apart,
But my mind warned me.
We must go on or die here.
A daughter here, a son there,
A baby on my back,
We reached the snowfields.

Through many monstrous mountains we crawled,
Whose death-blankets often
covered travellers passing by.

In the middle of the white killing fields,
A heap of frozen corpses
Set out weakening spirit trembling.
Blotches of blood spattered the snow.
The army men must have crossed their path.
Our land has fallen to the red dragons.
We prayed the ‘Yishin Norbu’.
With hope in our hearts,
Prayers on our lips,
Hardly anything to eat,
with only ice to quench out thirst,
We crawled for nights together.

Then, one night, my daughter
complained about a burning foot.
She stumbled and rose again on her frost-bitten leg.

Peeled and slashed with deep bloody cuts,
She reeled and writhed in pain.
By the next day both her legs were severed.
Gripped by death all around,
I was a helpless mother.
‘Amala, save my brothers,
I shall rest here for a while’
Till I could no longer see her fading figure,
Till I could no longer hear her fainting wails,
I kept looking back in tears and agony.
My legs carried me, but my spirit remained with her.

Long after in exile, I can still see her
Waving her frost-bitten hands to me.
Eldest home must have been tough for her.
Every night I light a lamp for her,
And her brothers join me in prayer.


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.


DESPERATE AGE

Kill my Dalai Lama
That I can believe no more.

Bury my head
Beat it.
Disrobe me
Chain it.
But don’t let me free.

Within the prison
This body is yours.
But within the body
My belief is only mine.

You want to do it?
Kill me here- silently.
Make sure no breath remains.
But don’t let me free.

If you want to,
Do it again.
Right from the beginning;
Discipline me
Re-educate me
Indoctrinate me
Show me your communist gimmicks.
But don’t let me free.

Kill my Dalai Lama
And I will believe no more.


For copies of ‘Crossing the Border’ (Priced at Rs 40)
write to Tenzin Tsundue at: tenzinfot@friendsoftibet.org


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