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 II)
By Kyabchen Dedrol
According to the wanderer Tawang, if Dorjee’s family were to lose its agate stone to Yangchen Pema’s tantric master, then Yangchen Pema would transform into the goddess Saraswati in this lifetime, and the music of Saraswati’s sitar enchant the people of the world and even cause them to sing rather than speak. Tawang’s story spread swiftly from one person to ten people and from ten to a hundred till it reached the ears of Dorjee’s mother. She spent a long night in doubt and anxiety and then hid the stone under one of the stakes of the family tent.
Dorjee was majoring in mathematics. The night he saw Yangchen Pema, he thought that the numbers that had made him suffer for these many years had nothing else to do but bother people like the flies that hovered around toilets. He felt that the sum of all that accounting had no essence, like the joy derived from intoxication had no essence, because no kind of addition or subtraction could produce something like Yangchen Pema. Thinking these thoughts, feeling as if he had lost the heart in his ribcage, he got up and thought about talking a walk, but it felt like there was no longer anywhere to go.
His schoolmates surrounded him and asked him various questions about Yangchen Pema until finally he said, “To be honest, I was sleeping at the time. I saw her only in my dreams.” A female classmate, consumed with jealousy, said, “Why are you all gasping in surprise? Yangchen Pema is also a person. Do you know what a person looks like? A person has a mouth, a nose and a tongue, like Dorjee.” At the students’ mocking laughter, Dorjee flushed from head to toe, and without paying any heed to the teachers, let alone the students, he went out of the school gates with a bag and left. This is what the female classmate wrote in her journal about Dorjee’s departure from school: “When he left, it didn’t look like he was walking on two feet but rather, that he was on all fours. Will he still have two hands when he comes back?”
All around the school lay a large field that looked like a chessboard, and the sunlight, which could not be gathered again, instead dispersed like powered color over the crops that grew in the field. Much like the animal that his classmate described in her journal, Dorjee sought out his destination but he found himself circling and circling in one area. He grew thirsty and felt a desire in his body that he had never known before. When he thought of the image of Yangchen Pema as he had seen her that day, it seemed as if her red shirt held the dew drops that could slake his thirst and he felt that were she to touch him again, he would surely lose his seed.
That evening, he reached a town where the dogs were barking. He asked for hospitality from a local family. Their walls were decorated with Yangchen Pema’s pictures. His cross-eyed hostess said to him, “This woman’s fame has spread far and wide. But there’s a thread running from her back and at the tip of this thread is a fat man, without whom who knows but her beauty may dim and even her speech fail.” He thought that this fat man could be none but the tantric master people spoke of.
When he was settling for bed, his hostess gave him a blanket as dark as the night, and the whole long night he felt as if the dark was pressing him down. When it became difficult even to breathe, he thought about getting up but found that his body lacked the strength. He realized that the house he was staying in was a juncture between the real world and the dream world. Just then, he saw the fat man that his hostess had talked about. There were various lines on his face and he had fat lips with a flat nose, and extremely tiny eyes. His left hand held tightly to a thread and his right hand clutched a fistful of notes.
No matter which way Dorjee looked at the thread, the thread flowed and flashed deceptively like an endlessly long river and he could not see the end of it. The fat man said, “Look here. At the tip of this thread lies Yangchen Pema. And in front of her there are all the people of this world. Ha ha ha.” He looked far into the distance and continued, “Young man, do you see? That dark shadow up there is your family’s black tent. Under one of the stakes holding down that tent, your mother hid that which Yangchen Pema has lost. Maybe your people thought they were hiding it but to me it looks like they just left it there.”
The fat man made Dorjee hold the thread and took him to the tent, whereupon he pulled out the stake and picked up the agate stone underneath. He wiped off the dirt stuck to the agate and then taking out a silver needle, stabbed each eye of the agate stone, cleaning out the defiling particles. He brought the agate to his mouth and blew, and there was a sweet sound of music, as if the wind were helping him. Yangchen Pema appeared before them and the thread in Dorjee’s hand grew slack. The fat man gave her the agate stone and said, “Daughter of Brahma, you have suffered.”
Dorjee held on to the thread for a while until there was nothing at the other end but only a woman’s skin.
He woke up at that point. The day’s newspaper carried the following news: The famous singer Yangchen Pema has suffered a sudden death. At the scene of her death, the police found a Louis Vuitton bag. In the bag were a plastic brush, a small mirror with the photo of a famous singer on the back, the CD of her new songs, the lyrics of a song titled “White Snow Mountain”, an eyebrow pencil and a lipstick.
The original link: http://www.tibetcm.com/html/degrol/201304025317.html
(Translated by Tenzin Dickyi)