Poem of the week: Week Fourteen.

To do justice to the theme ‘Exile’, Tenzin Tsundue’s poetry has to be a part of it. This second poem of the said theme is from his first collection of poems Crossing the Border. I have reviewed the book here.

Crossing the border
Tenzin Tsundue

Creeping in the nights, hiding in the days,
we reached the snow mountains after twenty
          nights.
The border was away by several days still.
The rugged terrain withered us to strains.

Over our heads a bomber flew,
my children shrieked in fear,
I covered them under my bosom.
Exhaustion tore my limbs apart,
but my mind warned me…
We must go on or die here.
A daughter here, a son there,
a baby on my back,
we reached the snowfields.

Through many monstrous mountains we crawled,
whose death-blankets often covered travellers
          passing by.

In the middle of the white killing fields,
a heap of frozen corpses
set our weakening spirit trembling.
Blotches of blood spattered the snow.
The armymen must have crossed their path.
Our land has fallen to the red dragons.
We prayed to the ‘Yishin Norbu’.
With hope in our hearts,
prayers on our lips,
hardly anything to eat,
with only ice to quench our thirst,
we crawled for nights together. 

Then, one night, my daughter complained about
           a burning foot.
She stumbled and rose again on her frost-bitten
           leg.

Peeled and slashed with deep bloody cuts,
she reeled and writhed in pain.
By the next day, both her legs were severed.
Gripped by deaths all around,
I was a helpless mother. 
“Amala, save my brothers,
I shall rest here for a while”.

Till I could no longer see her fading figure,
till I could no longer hear her fainting wails,
I kept looking back in tears ans agony.
My legs carried me, but my spirit remained with
            her.

Long after in exile, I can still see her
waving her frost-bitten hands to me.
Eldest of them, yet just in her teens,
leaving home must have been tough for her.
Every night I light a lamp for her,
and her brothers join me in prayer.

Yishin Norbu – another title of the Dalai Lama in Tibetan.

Amala – Mother in Tibetan.

***

 

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