Reflection on ‘Songs of the Arrow’

By Tenzin Nyinjey

Sadness, joy, laughter, pain. These are some of the emotions that my dear friend Bhuchung D. Sonam’s latest work, Songs of the Arrow, published by black neck books, evoked in me. The book is an offering to the lost yaks – the exiled youth of Tibet. It gives expression to their deep anxiety, frustration, confusion, fear and loneliness. The book has thirty poems and a short story, filled with deep insight and child-like imagination.

The title of the book comes from a work by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682). The book, therefore, is a remembering of the past, of the dead.

Unfortunately, our memory, our history, as Bhuchung rightly states, is being crushed by mind-numbing neoliberal advertising, head-in-the-sand philosophy and religious-political corruption.

The result, not surprisingly, is:

“Heartache, foot-ache, finger-ache, penis-ache.”

That is spiritual and intellectual death.

Sounds depressing?

But there is a way out. All it takes is a bit of rethinking, a slight shift in our routine life, such as chucking out our “sofa set and bringing in a wooden cot.” The ensuing change of smell could lead to an awakening of life: “smashing of cups” in our cold-hearted homes!

Freedom does not fall from the sky, like the pechas that fell on the rooftops of King Lha Tho Tho Ri Nyen Tsen’s palace.

Freedom, as Buchung claims in this work, lies in alternative sources of knowledge and history, in crazy yogins like Drukpa Kunley, in listening to the songs of Bob Dylan, in Ling Gesar epic stories.

Only these antidotes, which are being denied to our children in exile schools, will help us stand up to “fat dogs,” authoritarian bosses everywhere, be it in schools or workplaces.

Life begins.

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