High Peaks Pure Earth presents a translation of a short blogpost by Tibetan writer and intellectual Shokjang. Shokjang also recently authored an intelligent response to Liu Junning regarding China’s nationality and autonomy policies.
This short post was published on a Tibetan blog-hosting site called Tsanpo and is a critique of the Chinese government policy known as “Comfortable Housing”, more widely known as the resettlement of Tibetan nomads. “Comfortable Housing” has been critiqued before on High Peaks Pure Earth by writers such as Woeser.
In an in-depth report about Comfortable Housing titled “They Say We Should Be Grateful: Mass Rehousing and Relocation Programs in Tibetan Areas of China” that was published in June 2013, Human Rights Watch described the policy and its effects as such:
Since 2006, under plans to “Build a New Socialist Countryside” in Tibetan areas, over two million Tibetans have been “rehoused” – through government-ordered renovation or construction of new houses – in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), while hundreds of thousands of nomadic herders in the eastern part of the Tibetan plateau have been relocated or settled in “New Socialist Villages.”
“Tonight, I am in the Grasslands of my Hometown”
(Translated by Dhonling Bhu)
After heavy rainfall, I arrive at the grasslands of my hometown. Again, there is heavy rainfall, blocks of darkened clouds cover the grasslands of my hometown.
In the midst of this dense darkness, I am in a tin house. People call it a convenient house*. The convenient house was built this year. This is the first time I am staying in a convenient house.
The tin house is like the storied buildings in the city. There are a few doors and windows, I cannot see the darkness outside through the curtains. I cannot even see the tiny light penetrating through the cracks in the darkness.
Suddenly, I miss the black tent of the past, recalling the bright stars that can be seen from the opening on the top of the tent. The bursting pristine stars that can seen by everyone, remembering the scattering stars falling into my eyes as a star or two fell through the opening on the top of the tent. I remember reciting Mani, as though a life was extinguished each time a meteor fell through space.
Now, I have arrived in my hometown on the grasslands, the place I am staying in is the tin house. From the tin house I cannot see the stars. Stars that had fallen into my eyes in the past, now shatter into the vast space.
July 2, 2014
*In Tibetan the word used is tab de, meaning convenient, this may be the modern usage of of the word for comfortable housing.