Eswar reminisces meeting His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama for the first time. He recalls the deep reverence among the Tibetan people for their religious leader. Read more about his overwhelming experience, in the regular column, exclusively for Different Truths.
It was a day that I was looking forward to. A day I had dreamt of for long, ever since I started supporting the cause and from when I came to know about the struggles and sacrifices. I was about to meet the person I wanted to meet for long. I was about to meet the person about whom I have spoken at length at different venues. A person and his people about whom I have written many poems, written at length as well as spoken about with emotions. A person and his people whose cause is close to my heart. I was about to meet His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in a couple of minutes, welcome him to the venue!
A mix of emotions ran over me, I felt giddy, happy, and almost went blank. It was a dream come true moment. Standing in midst of Tibetan students, monks and supporters, I waited with closed eyes, trying hard to find words on what I should utter. I wanted the moment to last, forever, so that I can play and replay it, in my memories.
I saw him, a familiar face I have seen in countless films and documentaries, the face that smiles back at me from the portrait I have at my writing desk. It was not a feeling of seeing a person for the first time since I have seen him in my mind’s eye a million times, maybe more. Monks helped him get down the car and He was there smiling with arms affectionately drawing the students together talking to them in Tibetan, a language I do not understand but wish I had.
That was the moment when I forgot the ‘I’ in me and I saw faces around me and I started experiencing a moment which has historical importance. I saw the young students crying to their hearts, holding His hands, listening with tears of joy and emotions. Thoughts engulfed my mind, I was witnessing a moment that I had never, a moment which I, otherwise, could never understand. Why should someone cry when they were supposed to be happy – for they were anxiously waiting to see their leader, their spiritual master, their God incarnate! Some of them seeing Him for the first time from such close quarters. Why should they be having tears in their eyes?
The young students standing in front of me, wearing the best of traditional Tibetan dress – a generation who had never been to Tibet or have lived in an age when a generation of Tibetans were driven out of their nations by a force who illegally occupied their nation. A generation of youngsters who have only known about their motherland and the beautiful traditions and culture from their parents and relatives and stories and myths. A generation of youngsters who were no different from you and me, who do not have a first-hand experience of what Tibet is. A generation of youngsters born in this land, a land which had welcomed their parents/grandparents/relatives with open hands when they had to seek refuge. A generation of youngsters who study and work in Institutions where we have, living life amongst us just like one amongst us. But they do not have something which we have, a Nation, a place they can call Home – for it was snatched from them and is being enjoyed by forces who have illegally occupied them.
I saw hope in their eyes, a silent prayer – that they all could live together in their motherland, free and independent. I saw their eyes communicating, a silent song – a song that spoke about the hardships, the sacrifices of millions who lost their lives for the cause.
I fought tears, tears that made way without me knowing, tears that I did not have control over. I continued my wait…
Photos sourced by the author.
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Eswar Anandan’s mother’s traverse with Cancer opened his eyes and thoughts about the life outside the glass cubicles. In his own words: “Strong emotions gave way to words, words took poetic form, and I found a new purpose…” His first book, ‘Seasons’ is a dedication to her. He is currently working on ‘Thoughts in Silence’ and ‘Story of a Nation’. Eswar is an entrepreneur and Friends of Tibet Campaigner.