Sangdor is a well-known Tibetan writer who has published five books.
In particular, his book “Tulphod”, with its new metered verses,
created a literary stir among Tibetan writers. He is the former editor
of Sangdor website which was shut down recently. This piece was
published on Rangdrol blog in 2012.
Listen. Where Is That Bark Coming From?
That day, my friends and I were on the street when we suddenly heard a dog bark coming from out of nowhere. When we looked, there was no sign of a dog anywhere around us. Not far from us, there were some young Chinese in sports gear walking alongside us. In a little while, again we heard this disembodied bark. Where was it coming from? We thought about it but it just didn’t make any sense. Was it perhaps a dog as small as a fist hiding in somebody’s bag? We searched each other right away but didn’t turn up a single dog’s hair let alone a dog.
Our stories tell of a Jha Gobo called Gokhig which eats marble. It’s said to be as small and low as a shoe with a clairvoyant power for recognizing poison. When a Changkya Lama served as spiritual adviser to the Chinese emperor, he saw that the emperor kept a small Gokhig in a teacup. But this street wasn’t the imperial palace where you needed to suspiciously keep a small Gokhig in a teacup. Anyway, who knew whether the Gokhig even barked like regular dogs? As we thought and wondered about the source of these barks, the Chinese guys in the sports gear elbowed each other and giggled. Once again, there came a heart piercing bark and then a ‘haha’. Ah. This godforsaken dog- it wasn’t a dog at all but a man! We were all astounded.
Later as they barked, in voices high and low with different rhythm, their tails rose up, their tongues rolled down and we just stood there openmouthed. Since that day, sometimes even when I am in bed at night, this image comes to my mind and I just start laughing. Please don’t ask me where or how or why. If these youths were able to get a dog’s mask and a dog’s claws on their bodies, what will happen? I am not intentionally making a joke here. If they make a change in how they eat or make a switch between a house and a kennel, it’ll be hard to say what a spectacle it will be.
If this were a story of men imitating other animals like dogs, in Namkhai Norbu’s Journey Among the Tibetan Nomads, he talks of a bird called atakayu, with a grey color, a black beak and dark grey feet. This bird lives in holes in the pastures and when it come out, it rides on the pikas’ backs. Namkhai Norbu writes that when it comes time for the pikas to move, the nomads have seen these birds carrying the pikas across mountains and rivers that the pikas could not cross on their own. Isn’t this an example of animals imitating humans?
In that case, it is not too much to say that in in the past birds spoke like men. Am I also allowed to say that there will come a time when men will bark like dogs?
(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi)