THE RAPE OF TIBET
“Indu, we are going to Sheila aunty’s house. We will be back by 9 O’clock. Can you manage alone?”
“Sure, Mom. I will do my homework, watch TV for an hour and then read my new book of fairy tales, we bought from the book store.”
“If you are hungry, get some milk and cookies. We will have dinner, after we return from Sheila’s house. You know aunt Sheila’s number?”
“Yes. I will call you if there is any need.”
“It is snowing heavily outside. So don’t try to go out. It will soon be dark. Take care, good bye Indu.”
Her father also gave her a loving peck on her cheeks before going out..
After her parents had left, Indu locked the front door and went to her room. She watched the landscape outside. Snow flakes were drifting down and the snow had piled up on the driveway. Housetops were covered with snow and nature seemed to have put a white woolen shawl around its shoulders, to withstand the biting cold. Smoke was curling up from the chimneys of neighbouring houses. Soon she could see lights coming on, in the nearby houses. The street lights were also switched on.
After finishing her homework Indu had some snacks. She snuggled into bed and kept her brown teddy bear near her and started reading the illustrated book about India and Tibet her father had bought for her. Indu was born in New York, but her parents were from Arunachal Pradesh in India and had now settled down in America.
Indu opened her new book and flipped through the pages. There were stories about the Himalayas, the Buddhist monks there and their strange customs.There were lamas (Buddhist priests) belonging to different sects. Some wore the red hat and others the yellow hat. She was enchanted by the pictures of the monks doing the dragon dance. It really looked as if a real dragon was dancing to the beat of drums. Some monks in their dark red robes were beating on huge drums, a few others were blowing horns and some clashing the cymbals vigorously. A few young monks were rotating the prayer wheel. On top of the hills could be be seen the big monastery of Chinlayi Rabgyai, the Head Lama. His picture in the book was life like. Indu thought that the Head Lama was looking at her and smiling, beckoning her to come to him.
Indu was surprised to see a huge clock on a tower in front of the palace of the Lamas. She was feeling drowsy with sleep, but suddenly noticed that the two needles of the giant clock were moving backwards.
The whole place became misty. She had to strain her eyes, to see what was going on there. In front of her eyes, things were changing fast. The dancing dragons had vanished. People were running hither and thither. The mists from the mountains again swept down and she couldn’t see anymore. But suddenly the picture became clear, it was getting dark, but she could make out a large number of monks, and yaks loaded with goods, slowly going down, the mountain pass.
The clock on the tower was slowly but steadily rotating backwards. She suddenly realized that she was moving backwards in time and what she was seeing were things which happened many years ago.
The whole place was full of snow and ice and there were no more any humans there. She could see yaks moving in herds.
Suddenly she felt someone catching hold of her hands and pulling her gently. “Come my child, it is not safe to remain here. Come to our dwelling place. There will be fire to warm you and food to eat. Do not fear.”
Indu looked up and saw the gentle wrinkled face of a Tibetan woman, wrapped in a cloak made of yak skin, asking her to follow. She had a small prayer wheel in her hand. They walked with difficulty through the knee deep snow and soon reached the entrance of a cave. The old woman led her inside. Soon they entered spacious rooms, carved out from solid rock. There were hundred of oil lamps on the walls and floor and the place was quite bright. The old lady took Indu inside a room and asked her to sit down on a wooden chair. The place was warm and comfortable. The old woman saw Indu looking at her prayer wheel, in her hand. She told Indu, that anyone who rotates the prayer wheel and chants ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ will get the blessings of Buddha.
The old woman clapped her hands again and this time two young girls came in. The old woman said, “They want you to change your dress and wear some new clothes that will keep you warm. Leave your old clothes here.” The young girls changed Indu’s dress and then put a red hat on her head. They put a beautiful golden necklace, studded with gems on her neck. Her gown glittered as if it were made of golden threads.The old woman laughed, “Now you look like a Tibetan girl!”
Indu also liked her dress. The kind old lady told her,
“You will soon meet the Holy Lama, of the Red Hat buddhists, who is our ruler and head priest. He is Lord Karmapa of the Kagyu sect who is planning to flee to India to seek shelter there. He is the true disciple of Lord Padmasambhava whom we call, Lord Rinpoche. We are being attacked by our enemies, who are more powerful than us. We need help, Indu.”
“How is it that you are able to speak to me in my own language?”
“No my child I do not know your language. I am speaking to you in the ancient Tibetan language. But the Holy Lama has blessed you with the power to understand our language. Similarly we understand the language you are speaking. This is possible because you are good, innocent and pure.”
Soon she was led into a large hall. There were many lamas there wearing red robes and red hats. They were seated cross legged on the carpeted floor. Hundreds of small lamps in the hall made the place look bright and warm. There was a throne and a foot stool, at the end of the hall. Soon a gong was struck. It startled Indu. There was a procession of lamas and at the end of the line was a lean, old man, draped in a rich red robe and with a Red Hat on his head. He looked gentle and kind. He sat on the throne.
“Om Mani Padme Hum”. First it was a low pitched sound, soon it became louder and louder. When the Head Lama raised his hands, the chanting stopped. He smiled at Indu and asked her to come near him. She was given a small stool, with a velvet cushion, to sit down. She folded her hand and bowed her head. Indu’s mother had taught her that in their native land of India, that was how older and holy people were greeted. The Head Lama appeared pleased. His eyes glittered like two diamonds.
“My child! You are very beautiful and intelligent. You have come from a far off land, in the West. But your forefathers were from the East and in their blood is the culture of these ancient lands, were Buddha lived and preached. Do you know who the Buddha was?”
“Not really. But I have read something about him. He was a prince but left his palace to become a holy man. He was kind and gentle and believed in non violence.”
“Yes, that is the essence of the thing.” said the Head Lama, “But he was also called the Enlightened One. It will be too difficult for you to understand it now. But you will, when you grow up. Learn about his teachings. Do you know what we are chanting? Om Mani Padme Hum, means Oh! Jewel in the lotus – it means the Buddha. We fear our enemies. They do not know we are hiding here in these mountain caves. When you get back to your country, tell them we are in danger of being killed, by people who dislike our religion and our love for peace
Indu did not fully understand what the Lama said. She asked,“Why do these people wan’t to hurt the gentle people living here?”
“ They want our land. They do not like the teachings of Lord Buddha, if we do not obey them they will kill us – men, women and children. Only if the countries of the world help us, can we survive. When you go home talk to your father and mother. I will give you something precious by which, you and you alone, will be able to show them what is actually going on here.”
“But Holy Lama, Sir, nobody will believe my story. How can I convince the people in my country?” Indu asked.
“I will give you a special gift. It will help you and the people close to you, see what is actually going on here in the snowclad Tibet. Your father is a high official in the government and close to President Hussain Amabo. He is young, kind and decent. He will help us. He will see the genocide taking place in Tibet through the magic crystal ball.”
The Lama clapped his hands. A box covered in red velvet was brought to him. He removed the cloth and opened the box, which had fine engravings on it. Inside was a shining crystal ball. The Lama asked her to come near and place her hands on it. She did, and suddenly felt as if a small electric current was flowing through her body. She instinctively pulled back her hand. But the Lama told her not to do so.
She kept her hand on the crystal ball and soon could see people, cities, oceans and rivers in it. She saw large number of the tibetans, including children, women and men walking through heavy snow, with their possessions tied on the back of the yaks. They were crying out loudly. She could suddenly see Chinese soldiers coming near them and shooting them. She thought she saw the blood soaked hand of a little child lying in the snow.
She thought that the child was cryng and asking for help. The white snow turned red with the blood of the dying children.Many children and women fell down dead, in the snow. Tears flowed down Indu’s cheeks.
The Lama told Indu,”My child this crystal bowl will help you to see the future. Now you are seeing what is going to happen to us.Take the magic crystal ball with you. But it will work only if you are a good and noble person. Others can see things only if you permit them. You can also, use it to see things which are far away. Would you now like to see your own home in America?” Indu was delighted,”Yes, please.”
The crystal became clouded for a minute and then cleared up. She could see her house clearly. The small patch of forest land behind her house, the driveway and the houses and roads enveloped in a sheet of snow –everything could be seen clearly. She could see the headlights of a car approaching her house in Westford a distant suburb of Boston.
“Oh! No. That must be my Dad and Mom” Indu cried out. “I must get back home.”
The Lama said,” Go my child. Take the crystal ball with you. Use it only for good purpose. When you grow up, learn about the Buddha and his message of peace. I think your country and the whole world need it badly. Tell your people we need their help to survive.”
He raised his hands and blessed Indu, chanting,”Om Mani Padme Hum.”
Suddenly Indu found herself outside the monastery. She was alone. The huge clock was still there. But suddenly it stopped for a moment. The hands of the clock, showing the hour and minutes, started rotating forward like a normal clock. Soon it started rotating faster and faster. Time was flying. She was moving from the past to the present.
Hearing the loud sound of knocking, Indu woke up from her sleep. She did not know when she had dropped off into deep slumber. The story book with lots of pictures was lying nearby. The teddy bear was also, lying next to her, on her warm bed and its beady eyes were looking at her, as if in surprise. Her favourite black kitten had rolled itsself into a ball and was sound asleep in a corner of the room. Indu ran to the front door and opened it for her Dad and Mom.
“What took you so long?” Indu’s father asked.
“Oh! I just fell asleep, reading that wonderful book you gave me.”
“OK. I will get your dinner ready in a minute.” Mom said hurrying off to the kitchen.
Indu ran back to her room. She put on her favourite cardigan and was about to close the door when she found a strange box on her table. She slowly walked towards the table and gently lifted the cover of the box. Inside it, was a beautiful shining crystal ball