Living in the homeland
(Kham, Eastern Tibet on 1997 autumn)
|These are my personal experiences in Kham region (Kartze pref., Suchuan) on 1997 autumn. All the names of persons and places are anonymous.|
|At seven o'clock in the mornig, Gawa woke up and started his morning chant on the
bed. Lozong, Gawa's colleague, is still sleeping. Last night, Lozong got drunk and
went to sleep in Gawa's room. But the headmaster got much more drunk. He loves drinking
as much as he used to carry a bottle even he taught in the clasrrom. Recently he
has stopped drinking because he was blamed by a high lama, but last night he drank
fairly much baijiu, Chinese liquor, ate raw Yak meat and sang songs.They sang "His
Holiness, we long for Your return". I can sing one of the songs even now because
they never set me free until I leatned it by heart.
It is teachers' dormitory of the school where Gawa teaches. Every teacher has one room there.
The school has five teachers. The headmaster is in forties. Gawa is 26 years old and Lozong is also around 26. Tsarang, a Tibetan girl, has just graduated from the teacher's college best in the prefecture. And Wang, a gyamo (Chinese girl), graduated from another teacher's college that she says by herself is famous for its low level.
At eight o'clock in the morning, children appear on after another. They bring out their chairs from the classroom to the ground and starts reading textbooks loudly. It is because the village has no electricity and it is lighter outside.
Their shouting echoes in the valley. Gawa starts to make tsampa. Wang and Tsarang are walking around among children and sometimes answering their questions. Lozong is still in bed.
It is in Tehor region in Kham. From the dzong, the nearest town with bus terminal, we catch a car to go north on the highway half an hour and walked another half an hour to reach a suspension bridge. The school is in a village on a hill approached by the bridge.Ths school is one of the private "Tibetan Language Elementary Schools" established recently by a prominent Rinpoche living abroad. The school is popular for its proper Tibetan language education because it is rare there. About a hundred students, from 6 to maybe 14 years old, study there.There is no dormtory for children. I visited a child's house. It took almost an hour.
|***A returnee's elegy
"Just after coming back here in 1995, they took away my ID cards of Bhutan and India. They promised again and again to give them back, but did nothing. I haven't got the Chinese ID yet".
Gawa, who was born and grew up in Bhutan, is endlessly talking in his fluent English he learned from a British teacher. It is must be that he has decided never to miss this rare chance. It is actually a rare chance. Foreigners have never appeared in this village and have rarely appeared even in the dzong, a relatively bigger town.
Gawa's family was so-called a tsang, powerful clan. They were rich in old days so that they owned three houses for their own use and yaks and hourses etc. But while they were in exile, they had lost all. After coming back home, they managed to start a small grocery shop in the dzong where the family except Gawa live in.
"After coming back here, the first job I got was mining gold in winter. It was so hard. Money was good. Almost 1,000 yuan a month. But a friend died by an accident of falling rocks. He came back here with me from India. I got a merit. My body was trainded very tough", said Gawa frankly.
Gawa teaches English, Tibetan, math, art, music and dance at the school. Among five teachers he has the highest school career and earns more salary than the headmaster. He is talented for singing, dancing and drawing thangka, Buddhism paintings. The only fault is that he does not know Chinese language, especially Chinese characters.
"I enjoy teaching English most. But I know the children have no chance to use it. Taking care of yaks and barley is all for their life. I will feel glad if even one of them is inspired to go out of this village to see the outside world. It's just a dream...."
It sounds good! But I know he actually wants to go out first. He plans to go to Lhasa to get a job for travel agency. He is looking for the chance, relying upon his "boss", Mr Gya Nyima who is the No.2 richest in the area and a sponser of the school.
|**** Chinese also faces hardship
I was always free as a guest. Sometimes I went to see Gawa's English classes. But Gawa often tried make a welcoming mood by forcing children to shout,"good morning, sir!".So I wanted to avoided it.
I often chatted with teachers who were off. When it was fine, I enjoyed walking around with them. I do know why I naturally had chences to spend time with Tsarang and Wang, the only two girls there. I never imagined it would be fatal to me later.
Tsarang is moderate and quiet girl and looks clever, while Wang, a year younger than Tsarang, is active and noisy enough. They are good friends maybe because they are girls almost in the same age. They always cook food and eat toghether. Wang does not know Tibetan language besides some greeting phrases and nyima, dawa and meto, so they speak Chinese each other naturally. Between Tsarang and Wang, I can not find any problem like "confict of values between different nationalities"
But Wang feels deep solitude here in the area where Tibetans have overwhelmingly power.Except her, all the teachers and students are Tibetan. There is no Chinese in the village and in the next villages nearby. She always in the situation she cannot understand what people speak around her.
When I chat with Gawa in Tibetan in front of her, she sometimes gets angry, suspectin "Now you're speaking ill of me!?". Even we are actually talking "Wang is cute enough" or "also she has a good figure", she feels suspicious she is spoken ill of.
Wang is popular among the children, especially among boys. She is as diligent as she always studies English by herself when she is off.
But she sometimes wears down and goes missing, leaving her classes behind. She goes down to dzong, the town where she can meet Chinese and stays at friends' rooms.
"I'll go mad without it".
She originally did not come here by her will. She was just assigned to this school because of her inferior marks in the teacher's school. I think it is heartless to order her to study Tibetan now.
When I asked her homeland,
answered Wang in Tibetan name, not the Chinese name "Luding".
|**** Lozong's love story
Now the story comes to Lozong at last. Lozong is two or three years younger than Gawa. He graduated from the local Tibetan Middle School. He is jovial and a little timid. We got on well with together when we drank, but I should not have made light of him.
I got to know Lozong had a feeling love toward Tsarang. He may forgot it, but he said so after drinking much.
Lozong recognised I made very good friends with Tsarang, although I felt I spent more time with Wang rather than Tsarang. Well, in fact I often visited Tsarang's room. It may be fatal that Lozong found us when we two had just come back down from the back mountain.
Lozong struck back at me terribly.
He absented himself from classes without leave and went down to dzong, the town, to tell a security police, "a suspicious foreigner has crept in, comrade". The policeman was Dorji, Lozong's school mate in the Tibetan Middle School.
Next evening, Dorji with his comrades arrived the school to take me down to dzong immediately. I was suspicious of a violator of the Chinese law for controlling foreigner's entry and exit.
Taletell by jerousy!
Now I feel really happy that I could make friends with Dorji. He told me all the story about Lozong including the taletell.
It is no use maiking a counterattack here, but I will expose everything. Next to the school is an Ani gompa, nunnery, now under renovation with 100 nuns. Lozong's childhood girl friend is among them. I know Lozong is still getting along with the pretty nun. On the otherhand, the lovely Tsarang has a boy friend since her school age, now appointed to work in Changtreng, far away in the southern Kham. As for Tsarang, Lozong has some advantage as they say "a good neighbor is better than a brother far off". But I feel anxious what will happen when Lozong keeps both girls living next door each other. : )
|**** Butter tea in the Official's College
Many many thanks to Lozong, I could enjoy traveling, eating and sleeping more than a week all along with Dorji, an excellent Tibetan security police. He took me to many places when we were free from investigation. I worried nothing as a Khampa police always accompanied me. : )
The tour with Dorji showed me an interesting fact. Many Tibetan security officials, even of relatively higher status in prefectual level, lived in the houses with gorgeous prayer rooms. One of the officials proudly showed off a big kupar, portrate of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to me. I felt somehow happy.
The place I enjoyed the happiest time was the students' dormitory of the Official's College in the same compund of the Public Security Bureau in a big town. It is the school to educate promising candidates of Tibetan lechepa, officials to be responsible for the public security policies of People's Replic of China, especially in the Sichuan Tibetan areas --- it must be.
I and Dorji visited the room of a girl, his junior -- Dorji said so but she was clealy his girl friend -- from the same county with him. First, Dorji knocked on the door but door was not opened right away. Yes, it's the educating agency for security polices, so it might take some time to challenge visitors, I expected. But they later said, "we've got to check who is there carefully because we steal electicity to use a heater"
As I was invited in to the room with three girls around 20 years old, I found a donmo, traditional wooden equipment to stir butter tea.
Butter tea was served soon. We enjoyed bread and dried yak meat. Dorji brought the delicious meat from his homeland.
Everything went on in Tibetan style. In fact, there was no religous thing in the room. But it is not because it is prohibited but because they are young.
As I stayed longer, more came in. Everytime someone knocked on the door, girls inside in a hurry took out the wire stealing electricity.
The room, so small as it is with three beds, became crowded with people sitting even on beds. Nobady raised the basic and reasonable quesiton whether it would be appropriate to take an foreign suspect to this kind of place. The boss will see various hardships with these comrades.
I said good-bye to them, already one o'clock at night. They said again and again, "come again absolutely!" ---- yes I'm sure to grant thier request as far as it is a private matter.
"Lama la chab su cheen. Sangje la chab su cheen.....".
It was 2 AM when the promising policewomen of the future chanted on the beds and went to sleep. I will pray for thier bright future.