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Musings on Indian Independence Day

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013
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Photo: Matt Lindén

It was a bleak, rainy day. The air was filled with mist. Everywhere one looked, one found dampness and mud. Not a ray of sunshine. Nor even the yearning for it in people’s mind.

Add to this the house that I live in, a house not my own, but rented, on a land that doesn’t belong to me — despite the humanity of my landlords.

No wonder the pounding rain and the mist outside provoked a profound sense of dread in me. Rather than kicking off the searing fear, treating him in contempt, as we often do, I gave a thought to him, trying to find out its cause.

I instantly found it: emptiness of soul, loneliness!

Rather than brooding over this loneliness, letting myself bogged down in a mire of self-pity, I said to myself, learning from the painful lessons I have endured over the years, that I should do something.

Something productive and meaningful!

Usually when the despair of loneliness strikes me I take refuge in activities such as sweeping my house, washing clothes, and cleaning up the toilet.

But yesterday was special. All around me people were celebrating the Indian Independence Day. Tibetan exiles too were joining them.

The Internet was filled with messages from Tibetans congratulating their Indian hosts. Indian and Tibetan national flags were raised and anthems of both nations sung.

On such a seemingly special day, the loneliness that I felt in my soul became special as well. It refused to be pacified by my ordinary methods. There was no passion for such activities.  I didn’t want to clean up my house and toilet at all.

I was bothered by something rather more profound and serious. I don’t know why. Perhaps Indian independence reminded me of my own statelessness, the occupation of my homeland, and my exile!

I needed to do something different. But what could I do given the circumstances that I live with, given the limitations of our exile? All I could do is read, or rather re-read, and unconsciously and reluctantly hope that my imagination is fired up.

So I endeavored to fill my empty heart by reading Gendun Chophel’s the White Annals along with an article by Maxim Gorky on Chekhov.

I felt a deep sense of reverence to these two writers. Although they come from different countries, belonging to different epochs of time, they share similar views about our world: both were strong, sensitive yet humorous souls who couldn’t tolerate the suffering, the stupidities, and the mess their fellow countrymen were involved in.

So, they spent all their lives trying to awaken their fellow countrymen from their slavish, ignorant and banal existences through writing and activism.

Their writings made me realize the profound sense of alienation I suffer as an exiled Tibetan. They filled my heart with deep empathy and respect for the struggle my people, and other oppressed people on this earth, wage in their daily lives.

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