Realization and Revelation
Guestpost by 4dey
In Tibet, my uncle was a shepherd and I would help him in guarding and assisting the sheep. Early in the morning I would walk down the steep path from my house to my uncle’s hut which rested next to the great mountains and hills. Inside his hut, he had a small pile of wood in the center to make fire and a small space to sleep on the floor. There were about 100 sheeps and my uncle cared for them tenderly. We would journey over the great mountains, hills and jagged cliffs. We ate Tsampa,which is the main Tibetan staple food, made out of roasted barley flour mixed with salty Tibetan butter tea. Under the clear boundless sky, we’d relax in the green plains and lay supine, free from everything, but the clear tranquilizing sky. With my uncle, I felt secured and loved. I never understood why his affection for me was more apparent than that of my own biological father.
My village in Tibet was my universe and the Tibetan villagers were its inhabitants. What was beyond was the unknown and unthinkable. In my universe, there were some things that were strange and unusual. One of them was the Rich tibetan family who seemed unsuitable living in our village. The village was remote and we still used horse carriages as the main transportation. Electricity was barely born in my village. However, the Rich family had electricity, and most importantly, television. The family was symbolic of wealth. They somehow had everything more and they’d frequently travel to the city.
As a five or six year old, I had to babysit the family’s children. I remember palliating the crying baby while I tied it on my back. In addition, it seemed that all of the villagers had to in some way live under their authority- as if they were the mark of the village’s unity. Since they were the only family with a TV, the family would invite all the villagers to their house. The excited villagers along with their whole family-kids, grandparents and parents- would pay to watch what the Rich family showed on their TV. It was like a movie night for the whole villagers and when my family attended, I didn’t have to pay since I babysat their children. I remember the adults sitting together on the chairs, while I along with the other village kids sat cross-legged in close distance to the screen. It was a movie night except naked girls and naked men covered the screen.
Then the other peculiar thing was the uniformed men who camped sporadically at the outskirts of the village. When my friend and I had to pass them, they’d try to grab us violently and even chase us. Thankfully we were never caught. But I wonder who they were? Why did they want us?
There was also a field in the village for the children to play, and sometimes, out of the blue, our parents would ominously rush and shout that the “ghosts” are coming. We’d all run to our houses, frightened and alarmed. Who were the ghosts?
12 years ago, my other uncle from India who I’d never seen before, had visited our home in Tibet and helped me escape. I remember laying crouched at the back of the seat where the luggage are kept. I don’t know how long I stayed hiding, but my only wish was to be freed. Every time the car stopped, my heart would race. At one of the checkpoints, I remember seeing a platoon of policemen in starchy manner, holding their guns. I had to close my eyes and hide deeper under the seats.
In India, I was fortunate enough to live with my uncle’s family in a Tibetan Refugee Center. I felt different and everything was a transition. There were TVs and even barbie dolls, not the wrapped pillows that my sister and I would create. I realized the television showed variety of things and what I had been shown back home was nowhere to be found. My uncle enrolled me into a prestigious school along with his children.
But, during the first months, what I didn’t understand was the questions that were asked to me by the community members about the situation in Tibet. I was completely oblivious and didn’t think much about it. What situation?
In the first few days, I remember vividly teaching my uncle’s family in India the Chinese national anthem.
I remember how I’d learned the national anthem in Tibet. On occasions the villagers would stand by while uniformed armies would hoist the Chinese flag and in a united voice, we’d sing the Chinese national anthem. Why did we have to sing the Chinese national anthem and not the Tibetan national anthem? Why did I teach my family in India something that didn’t identity me. After few years in India, I terribly missed my family, especially my grandmother who I’d sleep with every night. Why couldn’t I meet them?
It was only when I’d come to America that I realized the true, saddening history of my blood. After learning more about the Free Tibet movement and interacting with many other Tibetan refugees, I was astounded and saddened of the suffering our people have faced. This realization and understanding helped me narrow down the motive of the family and its questionable position in the village, and the things that I have witnessed in Tibet. I realized that the Rich tibetan family wasn’t just a typical family. They were a loyal source to the Chinese government and by encouraging us to watch such vulgar things-ponograpghy-, they were fulfilling the Chinese government’s motive of corrupting and brainwashing us, Tibetans. It makes me sad and angry, simultaneously, to realize that me and the other children of the village would sit and watch, numbly and acceptably- that because of this one polluted family, the whole village was stained and deprived.
The uniformed campers at the village weren’t curious men just hovering the landscape but they were Chinese spies who were vigilant of the village. The ghosts that our parents had warned us weren’t real ghosts. I believe it was a tactic to get us home, to abide by the village curfew.
As I muse on the conditions I lived under, its ironic because I had felt that life was simple-especially with my uncle in the mountains.
What I hadn’t realized were the restrictions, the barbed wires, the disguise we lived under; the tacit fears our parents held, the mechanisms used to blur or efface my identity and the motives of corrupting us.
After 12 years, my grandmother tells me she wants to see me before she leaves this earth; My sick mother wants to tender me; My dad says whenever he sees my childhood friend, he’s reminded of me.
Just as every Tibetan wish to someday visit their birthright country, to reunite with the place that their ancestors once occupied, it is difficult and inevitable for an obvious reason-the Chinese government. All along my life, the chinese communist government has been the hinderance of my happiness and the breach between my family and me.
We can’t let these corrupted, loathsome, uneducated people to represent humanity and degrade human morality. We should resist and haul them to the lowest level for we all dwell under the same sky, and we are share the same passion and desire-peace and happiness.
It is harrowing to think that my villagers are still locked in that concealed world I once dwelled. I feel fortunate to be living an unrestricted life where I receive great opportunities and get a taste of real freedom.
More than five decades of occupation, Tibet is still under the Communist China and the situation in Tibet has grown more severe, more unbearable, more frightening, that my fellow Tibetans are burning themselves for freedom. Most of them are teenagers like me pleading the world to heed to their cry. My heart aches for my people and I fear much.