Culture & Society

‘Losar Greeting’ And ‘When it Rains in Dharamsala’: Poems By Tibetan In Exile

Through 100 pages of 'Poetry as Evidence', Outlook presents a selection of poems and verses that have moved us, and we feel these serve as evidence of our bleak times and lives. The poems below are the 21st and 22nd from the series.

The family of Arsalan, a nineteen-year-old from Zaldagar, Srinagar protests in 2022 against his arrest by the National Investigation Agency
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Losar Greeting

Tashi Delek!

Though in a borrowed garden
you grow, grow well my sister.

This Losar
when you attend your Morning Mass,
say an extra prayer
that the next Losar
we can celebrate back in Lhasa.

When you attend your convent classes
learn an extra lesson
that you can teach children back in Tibet.

Last year
on our happy Losar,
I had an IDLI-SAMBAR breakfast
and wrote my BA final exams.
My IDLIS wouldn’t stand
on my toothed steely forks,
but I wrote my exams well.

Though in a borrowed garden
you grow, grow well my sister.

Send your roots
through the bricks,
stones, tiles and sand.
Spread your branches wide
and rise
above the hedges high.

Tashi Delek!

Tenzin Tsundue, Himachal Pradesh

When it Rains in Dharamsala

When it rains in Dharamsala
raindrops wear boxing gloves,
thousands of them
come crashing down
and beat my room.
Under its tin roof
my room cries from inside
and wets my bed, my papers.

Sometimes the clever rain comes
from behind my room,
the treacherous walls lift
their heels and allow
a small flood into my room.

I sit on my island-nation bed
and watch my country in flood,
notes on freedom,
memoirs of my prison days,
letters from college friends,
crumbs of bread
and Maggi noodles
rise sprightly to the surface
like a sudden recovery
of a forgotten memory.

Three months of torture,
monsoon in the needle-leafed pines
Himalaya rinsed clean
glistens in the evening sun.
Until the rain calms down
and stops beating my room
I need to console my tin roof
who has been on duty
from the British Raj.
This room has sheltered
many homeless people.

Now captured by mongooses
and mice, lizards and spiders,
and partly rented by me.
A rented room for home
is a humbling existence.
My Kashmiri landlady
at eighty cannot return home.
We often compete for beauty
Kashmir or Tibet.

Every evening
I return to my rented room.
But I am not going to die this way.
There has got to be
some way out of here.
I cannot cry like my room
I have cried enough
in prisons and
in small moments of despair.

There has got to be
some way out of here.
I cannot cry,
my room is wet enough.

Tenzin Tsundue, Himachal Pradesh

(Tenzin Tsundue is an Indian-born Tibetan poet, writer, and activist. He is the author of four books which have been translated into 15 languages. Tsundue has been jailed several times for his protest actions for the cause of Tibet.)

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