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I have fallen in love with Woeser’s writing and found a wonderful piece of prose online called “Nyima Tsering’s Tears”. I have included it below. It is very moving and emotional and I cry every time I read it. I have wanted to add a more personal note to this blog and Woeser certainly does that:

Nyima Tsering’s Tears

It was one of those hot summer days in 1999. As usual the Tsuglakhang was packed with pilgrims and tourists. And, as usual, Nyima Tsering was at the entrance selling tickets and always ready to give tours in English or Chinese to visitors from far away. This was his job, unlike other lamas, as he’s called in the press or on TV: “tour-guide lama”. Yet he’s not only a tour guide, he also holds many other titles, among which the most special one is Member of the Standing Committee of the People’s Assembly in Lhasa. So, in the news on Xizang TV and Lhasa TV we often see a young monk in his maroon robes sitting amidst those taciturn-looking officials in their laymen’s clothes. He always looks calm, sensible and self-assured.

On that day, someone suddenly notified him to submit two photographs to the concerned department for his passport application. Nyima Tsering was told that he was to fly to Beijing a few days later, from where he would join other officials from various government departments to attend an international human rights convention in Norway. Norway? Isn’t that the country where the Dalai Lama received his Nobel Peace Prize in 1989? Nyima Tsering felt slightly excited and uneasy. When he went to submit his photographs, someone there exhorted and advised him again and again. Having noticed his strange expression, the man said: “Relax, the people you will be travelling with are all high-ranking. They won’t be like the officers in Lhasa who know nothing.”

Soon Nyima Tsering boarded an aeroplane alone to Beijing. Of course, there were people who saw him off and received him at both ends of the flight. He couldn’t quite remember who he had met or what he had said. Two days later he was on board again with another ten to twenty member delegates heading to Norway; still he could barely remember anything on the way. This was Nyima Tsering’s first overseas trip. He should have been very clear about his experiences. However, compared with the phrase “human rights” other matters were just not that important to him. What else but the convention could have concerned him so much? After all, he was the lone Tibetan coming from Tibet and the only lama in monastic robes.

But those people were indeed different. They were older than him and unlike the Lhasa officials they looked well-educated, had good manners, were not loud-mouthed nor bossy. To this day, Nyima Tsering still remembers an official from the Committee for Nationality and Religion, at an embarrassing moment when he couldn’t hold back his tears, quietly asking, “Are you feeling unwell?” Then no more words. Finally, when he burst into tears, no one demanded any explanation; that was, however, a kind of understanding that Nyima Tsering appreciated very much.

These days, whenever the convention is mentioned, Nyima Tsering tends to avoid talking about a lot of details. This includes the convention’s proceedings, participants, contents, its background, environment, atmosphere, or the gatherings, discussions, and sightseeing etc. outside of the convention. In fact, the two incidents Nyima Tsering suddenly mentions come out of nowhere. All of a sudden. As if it has been kept in his heart so long that it can no longer be suppressed. He bluntly stopped the chatting, letting the incidents that happened a long time ago burst out of his mouth.

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