The Silent Voice. “Kora” by Tenzin Tsundue – A Review

In a world which always races past leaving behind all, without noticing any change; for all the heart which has gone indifferent in the quotidian routines, with no time to look beyond the point of one’s nose; for all the voices we have failed to listen and give an opportunity of being heard, this book by Tenzin Tsundue comes as an axe that breaks the ice, and asks us to stop. To Listen.

Tenzin Tsundue is a poet, writer and an activist who gives voice to all the oppressed people of Tibet. Since 1949, when Chinese army brutally captured Tibet and put in place a bloody occupation policy, Tibet continues to be an ‘integral part’ of Republic of China. As the ‘Letter from Kathmandu’ notes, in ‘reality’ Tibet does not exist as a country; it has no recognition as such in the diplomatic and political arena of its own. This book, aptly titled ‘Kora’ meaning ‘revolution’, is a compendium of various poems, articles and essays of Tenzin written at various periods of time.  Just as all the revolutionary work goes, this work of the author is also self-published with the monetary help of his elder sister, Choney Wangmo.

                               “I am more of an Indian   

                       Except for my chinky Tibetian face” 

Tenzin is born in India. His parents continues to remain in Karnataka. He grew up in various parts of India, from Himachal Pradesh to Madras to Mumbai, pursuing his studies in literature. India’s culture, and his own cosmopolitan growth has imbued in him a love for this land yet his lack of identity and longing for his lost motherland has turned him a rebel. A rebel who has taken up pen as his weapon.  A rebel whose prose or poems has the language of heart touching simplicity and lucidness. A rebel whose work evokes with vividness the pain and suffering of a refugee who has been evicted from their homeland and longs for the reunion with what was once their own.

My Registration Certificate (my permit to stay in India) states that I’m a foreigner residing in India and my citizenship is Tibetan. But Tibet as a nation does not feature anywhere on the world political map. I like to speak in Tibetan, but prefer to write in English, I like to sing in Hindi but my tune and accent are all wrong. Every once in a while, someone walks up and demands to know where I come from. My defiant answer “Tibetan” raises more than just their eyebrows. I’m bombarded with questions and statements and doubts and sympathy. But none of them can ever empathise with the plain simple fact that I have nowhere to call home and in the world at large all I’ll ever be is a ‘political refugee’.

The great poet Rabindranath Tagore of the last century envisioned ‘One World. One Home’, an idealised world which is not cut and ripped apart by man-made borders. That idea is still a dream; a distant dream to come true. To make the idea of Rabindranath Tagore come true, the world still has to evolve beyond the closed discussions of bureaucracy and the apparent muffles of diplomacy. Until then, even if the ideas of this great poet go subdued, at least we should not long wait to create a world where one’s home is not taken away in the name of power and prowess. When somewhere in the other corner, far away, ISIS bombards Syria, fundamentalists threatens Pakistan and Bangladesh, Israel want to grab Palestine, and, near home, when Indian government pushes hard to acquire land for many a purposes, under the garb of economic development, voices like that of Tenzin Tsundue deserves to be listened and demands an honest answer. For they reminds us, with a sting, that land is an intricate fabric weaved tightly in the identity of a person, and when we take it away, a man’s history is being adeptly and sublimely erased.

P.S: One can download the book for free here (Sponsored by Friends of Tibet).

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