Well... After shopping, we went back to our hotel rooms and I went to sleep very early that night. I really didn't get a chance to clear my doubts about Tibet with Appa at all. The next day we went sight seeing all over Manali. I went to some apple orchards. I was particularly delighted about the fact that the apple trees over there were just almost my height, approximately 4.5 feet. That was really interesting for me. But well, the saddest thing was that there were no apples. The trees didn't have leaves at all because it was winter then. I could only sigh and imagine how wonderful it would have been had I come during summer. Delecious apples plucked directly from the trees.......awesome na!
In the evening the whole group again went shopping. I have to confess something, I hated shopping way back then. :........yea, yea, yea, even I sigh in disbelief sometimes. How can I, Shobha of all people in the world.....HATE SHOPPING! Shesssssssssh! I am ashamed of myself :P :P I only liked shopping if something was brought for me. I was least bothered about the woollens my mom/pop were buying and other electronic goods. Duhhhh! B O R I N G! We went to a shop which resembled like a super market. Our whole group dispersed. It had everything, woollens to electronic stuff to cosmetics. Initially I accompanied Appa/amma in their shopping sojourn but later I became so bored that I left them, joined my group of friends and started enjoying myself. Suddenly my eyes fell on this most gorgeous pair of earrings I had ever seen. It was very pretty. I immediately went to the shop and asked a lady sitting there about the price of the earrings. "150 ruppes dear. U like it?" I replied in affirmative and kept staring at the earrings. "Wait, I will show you more of those." she retorted and kept in front of me a big box which contained loads of such pretty earrings. I was busy checking the earrings when suddenly i noticed that this lady was wearing a completely different outfit. It was different. I can't really describe it now but it sort of resembled the outfits the tibetan women had worn. Oh yea, she had chinky eyes too. Somehow we stuck up a conversation. there weren't many customers to her cubicle that time, so we continued talking. Gradually I came to know that she had come to India from Tibet when she was barely 7-8. Yet she had vivid memories of her childhood in Tibet. She talked about her house, the garden, courtyard etc. She often spoke in chaste Hindi but our talks were interspersed with smattering of English too.
Then I sudden;ly asked her, "Why do u people keep coming from Tibet to India? You don't like living there?" Hearing my question, she burst intpo a mild laughter. I did not understand why she behaved like that. She then told me that," Dear, tibet used to be a free country until China had invaded Tibet. So we were forced to flee the country and come to india." While telling me this, she burst into tears. I was shocked. I did not know how to react. I just muttered a feeble sorry and apologised to her profusely. "Aunty I did not mean to hurt you, I am so sorry. Please don';t cry." I couldn't say naything more. I was completely comfused, disturbed on seeing her cry like this. She composed herself and then consoled me by saying, "Oh no dear, don't worry. it is not because of you. its all out fate.". But aunty why did you cry? You don't like living in India? You have lived here for so many years." To this she replied," Oh well...I love India. India has been very kind to us. it has given us a home, has given us an opportunity to earn our living here. We couldn't have asked for more. But then..... I snapped, But what aunty?" "but....I belong to tibet. Tibet is my homeland. I have always wanted to go back, to my home, to my Tibet." I just stood there mum." We live in India at present earn our living here. We have been assimilated with the India society, but it doesn't change the fact that we are refugees. We are not one among you." I didn't agree with ehat she said. "Absolutely not, You are one among us, you are just like any other Indian citizen." "So sweet of you dear, but the fact is that we are not and one has to accept it. Our roots are in Tibet That difference will always exist."
Then suddenly she began all enthusiastic. " Do you know what my dream is? I ant to die in Tibet. I still dream of living in my ancestral house. I still hope that one day Tibet would be free." "me too aunty." Thatw as all I could mumble. IAt that point of time I just thought how lucky I was to belong to a free country like India. I was lost in thoughts when she said, "You know Shobha, India has been so good to us. She has given us home, shelter, food, so many things. Why doesn't Indian government help us to in our endeavour to be free then?" i just looked at her. i did not have any naswers to her question. I was ignorant, completely. But I could see the sadness in her eyes. Sigh!
Shobha.......I heard somone calling me. that was Amma. "Where were you? We were searchign for you all over." she screamed at me. Amma, I was here talkign to aunty. they bothe xchanged pleasantries but we were in a hurry and had to rush. I just waved a quick good bye and left. That was our first and last meeting.
From that day onwards I have deep empathy for the Tibetan struggle for independence. I hope Tibet gets liberated one day. But well, realistically, I don't think that's going to happen. But well you never know.....life is full of surprises :D
Aha! What a coincidence :D This is real good news. :D :D