By Santosh Kumari
Many say I am enlightened
but inside me is a darkness.
When I think about my homeland
I wake up from my deep, deep sleep.
Eyes full open, I gaze
to find there is no one around.
I am told I am a king,
but I am helpless and alone.
Where has my nation gone?
I fear for my people and those I love.
Time passes and this hope pervades -
one day we will go back home.
A few mountains away,
we are not far-removed.
Old age enfeebles me.
My legs are sluggish, my arms grow frail.
They say that I have seen the world.
My eyes have not seen much.
I long to return to my snow country,
to lead my people home.
This is my final supplication
before the sun has set and the moon burned out.
Santosh Kumari grew up happy but poor as the third of the five children of Chinu and Pritam, a subsistence farmer and slate quarry worker in the hamlet of Dupnal, a small cluster of Gaddi homes in the highest part of Upper Dharmkot, above Mcleod Ganj. As part of an outreach program to the Gaddi community initiated by the then director of the Tibetan Childrens' Village Schools, Jetsun Pema, Santosh was accepted into grade eight in the Upper TCV school, not far from where she lived. She went on to receive her grade 12 certificate, and then a Bachelor of Arts, and a Teaching certificate from Himachal Pradesh University where she is presently in her first year of a Masters degree in English Literature. She is the first in her family to graduate from university and is married to a Chambali man, Pawan Kumar, a mathematics teacher. Together they have one son, Aayan