The Agate and the Singer (Part I)

The Agate and the Singer (Part I)

The Agate and the Singer (Part I)


This is a short story by Kyabchen Dedrol. Kyabchen Dedrol is one of the best young writers in Tibet, and a leading figure of the “third generation”, a generation defined both by their age and their thoughts and views which are distinct from the older generation’s. His writings are published in many literary magazines inside Tibet and have also been translated into other languages. He is the co-founder of Chodmey website.

The Agate and the Singer (Part I)
By Kyabchen Dedrol

The singer’s name was Yangchen Pema and before she died, there were many stories that people told about her. They said that she had an abortion at some hospital, that the child’s father was a big shot county chief who bought her an apartment to compensate her, and that his family’s tantric master, a black magician, had blown puffs of breath into her mouth which sweetened and strengthened her voice, besides which, while stealing another singer’s lover, she had also stolen the singer’s voice, and so on.

During the last New Year, when she sang a song called “My Sweetheart” at a concert organized by the TV station, this song not only spread from cities to towns to rural villages but there was even a young man, a youth who gambled the whole day away at hotels, who said, “If I could only sleep one night with Yangchen Pema, I wouldn’t regret it even if I had to die the next day.” When a trader told him, “I am financing Yangchen Pema’s next album,” he followed the trader around for many days, serving him like a lackey, and this incident became very famous.

If you listened to those who worshipped her passionately, they even told of how if you were to call her name from the rolling pastures or from the canals grooved into the fields, she would appear in front of you like a divine goddess accomplished in enchantment.

A herder named Tsering had a dream in which a goddess carrying a golden vase suddenly appeared beside a clear stream. Upon waking up, he said that he found himself reciting the songs of Yangchen Pema. About a week after he told this story, Tsering fell prey to a sudden and serious illness from which he emerged speaking like an idiot. At times he said, “Yangchen Pema is my wife. Our child’s name is Yangtruk.” At other times he said, “Don’t let me go. I can’t go alone.” He left herding and became a beggar, crying out “Ki hi hi!” and telling unending stories outside a dance hall where Yangchen Pema had performed.

At any rate, following a spring in which men’s desires grew wings, it became so that each family had a DVD of Yangchen Pema’s songs, and the phones of horse riders as well as motor cycle riders, of businessmen as well as workers, were full of Yangchen Pema’s photos.

One day, a college student name Dorjee was sleeping late into the afternoon, sleeping off the previous night’s intoxication, when someone pulled at his blanket. Waving his hand away, he said, “You bastard, go away. I need a little more sleep.” Then he felt a cool, silky hand stroking his hair and heard a woman’s voice in his ear saying, “Wake up and see. It’s going to be a new day today.” Blinking the sleep out of his eyes, he saw that there was a woman wearing a red shirt in his room. Her smile brightened the whole room like a ray of light. With a sense of panic that he had never felt before, he got up and the woman vanished.

Saying that the woman was Yangchen Pema, he became the first person since the spring to claim to have seen her.

After that incident, people argued and talked about why Yangchen Pema had gone to his room and most of them agreed that it was because of a precious nine-eyed agate stone that had been in Dorjee’s family for many generations.

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(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi)