The Change in My Homeland – A Poem

The Change in My Homeland – A Poem

Khawa Lhamo’s real name is Metok Tso. A well known Tibetan woman blogger on the Sangdor website, she was born in Bongtak in Themchen county in Qinghai, which is part of Amdo. She is a graduate of the Qinghai Nationalities University, and currently teaches at a high school in Bongtak. 

The Change in My Homeland

by Khawa Lhamo

In the morning, a little girl came running and said, “Sister, please write an essay for me. My teacher told us to write an essay on “the change in our homeland” but I can’t write it.” After I told the little girl that one must do one’s own work and sent her off, I reflected by myself on “the change” in my homeland.

The guard dogs that do not know how to chase wolves
Do not raise their heads at approaching cars
Or their eyes at approaching bicycles.
Seeing a rider on horse or yak,
They chase him through the hills and valleys
As if possessed by ghosts.

A girl related to me who doesn’t know a single Chinese word
Went into the belly of China relying only on sign language as a bride.
On her departure the last words she left with her people were
The men in China are nicer to their women than the men in Tibet.

What did the digging and stripping
Do to the ever flowing stream?
If we need drinking water
We wait day and night in
Long and short lines like rosary beads
For the miners’ water truck.

In our land
A single piece of coal, a stalk of caterpillar fungus has not emerged.
Villages loyal to their land and their animals
Say this is a blessing from the three jewels.
A man related to me who grew rich with mining
Threw an insulting glance and said,
It is right for you nomads to suffer. Was he right?

An uncle who lives near the mine
Stepped into my tent,
Dropped to the ground and said,
Ah, green pastures and clean rivers
This is what the grassland is,
This is how the nomads live,
And swallowed.

What’s more, after the highway
Was laid through the center of the village
Thanks to coal mining,
Sister Dolma’s legs were cut off
Uncle Tenpa’s life was taken
Boy Tharlo was left an orphan.

Can I call the above “the change”
in my homeland?

The original poem in Tibetan can be found at

(Translated by Dhondup Tashi Rekjong and Tenzin Dickyi)