|Since 2009, at least 94 Tibetans have self-immolated, more than 40 have died in parts of China since 2011|
You can see them in the markets of Shillong peddling their stuff- T-shirts, jackets, belts, curios and what not. At Shillong's famous Glory's Plaza as you enter, you seem to have entered Shangrila . A weird smell wafts into your senses. You can see them casting melancholic glances, waiting for you to come to them rather than calling out to you imploring. Their manners are unobtrusive. Somehow you get this feeling that they are strangers who do not belong here.
You can see them in the monasteries at Tawang and Sikkim. Clothed in red robes, they walk about with a stately gait, their lips constantly moving in silent prayer. You feel a sense of calm just watching them. Us people of the world seem to be flitting about from place to place in search of something we don't even know exists whereas they seem to have found bliss and contentment.
You probably have a friend Tenzing. You probably didn't know that it is but their surname. He/ she talks about their homeland like a grandmothers fairy tale that begins with "in a land far far away". They speak of how their people escaped from there and spread far and wide in the world. They also speak with a longing to see the face of that earth once again.
You see them in the streets of Delhi carrying the red and yellow banner of their creed, chanting slogans of freedom demanding their right to return to the place from whence they came. You see the pain in their eyes hardened and covered by a veil of resoluteness. You see their peaceful protests being curbed in our country lest we upset the fragile relations with our neighbour.
You see their pictures the front page of our newspapers. You read to your horror about the self-immolations. In a world where others will not hesitate to kill thousands in the name of religion, this is the most extreme measure they will ever take to make their voice heard. You deplore the act and yet in your heart, you know that it is the only way they feel that the world will see their pain. A hope that this act of sacrifice will make their captors see reason. You forget these scenes very quickly and go on living your sheltered existence while they live theirs. A life of a refugee, a life of a nomad. They are God's very own children but you wonder if he has forsaken them.