I am a Tibetan woman who was born and raised in South, India due to the occupation of my country, Tibet, by China in 1959. Due to the lack of my knowledge as I was a child, I was not aware of the fact that I lived in a settlement in India where many Tibetan families struggled to live in the new environment they had resided after escaping and also they struggled to learn the language and didn’t have enough money to feed their family. I learned that many Tibetans work hard to get freedom of Tibet and also kept the Tibetan religion alive while living in the country that did not belong to them. What I did noticed were the friendly faces from people in the camps and the helping hands that appeared whenever it was needed.
As a young girl growing up in the Tibetan camps in south, India, I contemplated that my family and all others living in the camps had nothing to be concern about in terms of wealth and happiness. But, I was wrong, I realized that there were times when many suffered but I was too blind to see those anguish at the time. I understood the life I led and the people who surrounded me during those ten years of my life had brought me all the joy in the world. I realized that family, good neighbors and close friends played a big role in a person’s life. I believe that my family has taught us (me, my younger sister and also my younger cousins) the true meaning of family and that family means more than any thing in the world. Therefore, I have learned, experienced and also believe that the people who surround you and love you are the most important part of life. A person should not live in the materialistic world and become money-oriented because it will only hurt them in the long run. Money will come and go but your family and true friends will be there by your side whenever you are in need.
I remember the days when I woke up to the sound of a chicken on sunny mornings. Glancing out the window and seeing my grandmother making patties from cow manure and slamming it on the wall. I also recall stepping over my aunt’s feet early in the morning, dashing to the chicken house, lifting the chickens and taking the eggs to my mother who is always in the kitchen preparing breakfast for the whole family. Whenever I got out of my bed and ran outside, I smelled the most delightful smell of the incense that my grandfather had lit in the prayer room. Whenever I pasted by my uncle, he would always direct me to go put on my shoes. I remembered him as the hygiene king because he would check our hands, fingernails, and our feet before we ate. If we (my sister and cousins) were dirty he would wash us and scold us. My father lived in America while me, my sister and my mother lived in my grandmothers house with my uncles, their wives, their children, my aunts and also with all the animals we had.
Happiness came upon us through the love we shared with each other and also through helping one another. We earned enough money from farming and selling milk and eggs that our cows and chickens offered. After moving to the United States, I realized that the house we lived in India was nothing compared to the houses here. I was so amazed at everything I saw from bathrooms inside of the house to Television sets in each room. I remember we had a Television set in India which my father bought when he came from Minnesota to visit us. It was a 24” T.V. which we kept locked inside a glass shelf. We were one of the few families in the camp that had a T.V., so I remember the nights when we would put the T.V. outside our house and invite the people (mostly young) to come and watch new Hindi movies out in our yard. Those days were memorable experiences that I will never forget.
While living in the United States, I received everything I ever wanted but I was still not satisfied because I missed the closeness of the people in the camp and my family in India. The neighbors in the United States were wonderful but I did not see them often because my father explained to me that they led a busy life. Our house in the United States felt empty without the sound of my cousins and the animals. My parents went to work early in the morning so I did not see them as much. Nobody told me to put on shoes when I walked outside without my shoes on and nobody was there to scold me when my hands, fingernails, and feet were dirty. I decided to take care of myself and learned the importance of responsibility at a young age but I missed my big loving family in India. The beautiful memories of the people in the camps and the experiences I had as a child has changed my viewpoint of the world.
A few years after living in the United States, I understood the reasons why I woke up next to my aunt for the first nine years of my life and stepped on her feet as I climbed out of bed. I comprehended the times my grandmother woke up early in the morning and slammed cow manure patties on the barn wall. All those things seemed as if we lived in ancient times but those were the lives we lead in order to survive. My grandfather lit incense every morning and prays to Buddha in order to keep the religious beliefs in the family. Realizing these things has taught me there are so much more to life than the materialistic world. People’s life should not be focused on materialistic things. If a person had all the money in the world and if they did not have any close friends or family members to share it with, there life would be as happy as those who does not have anything at all. Family and keeping true friends are the most important part in life. Your family and friends will be there for you when you are in need. A person should make enough money to live and feed their family but money should not be the first priority in their lives. In order make your life valuable you should not always depend on money. Family, friends and having someone that loves and cares for you is what brings happiness in a person’s life.
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