Wednesday, April 11, 2007


By: Tenzin Tsundue


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 salaam.
A foreigner born in India.
I am more of an Indian.
Except for my Chinky Tibetan face.
"Nepali?" "Thai?" "Japanese?"
"Chinese?" "Naga?" "Manipuri?"
but never the question – "Tibetan?"
I am Tibetan.
But I am not from Tibet.
Never been there.
Yet I dream


When I was born
my mother said
you are a refugee.
Our tent on the roadside
smoked in the snow.
On your forehead
between your eyebrows
there is an R embossed
my teacher said.
I scratched and scrubbed,
on my forehead I found
a brash of red pain.
I have three tongues
the one that sings
is my mother tongue.
The R on my forehead
between my English and Hindi
the Tibetan tongue reads:


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.


My father died
defending our home,
our village, our country.
I too wanted to fight.
But we are Buddhist.
People say we should be
Peaceful and Non-Violent.
So I forgive our enemy.
But sometimes I feel
I betrayed my father.


Our tiled roof dripped
and the four walls threatened to fall apart
but we were to go home soon,
we grew papayas
in front of our house
chillies in our garden
and changmas for our fences,
then pumpkins rolled down the cowshed thatch
calves trotted out of the manger,
grass on the roof,
beans sprouted and
climbed down the vines,
money plants crept in through the window,
our house seems to have grown roots.
The fences have grown into a jungle,
now how can I tell my children
where we came from?

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