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Features latest news & information on Tibet and H. H. the Dalai Lama.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Call for Tibetan Independence

As a son of a Lhasa-Newar, I too do feel that Tibet is never a part of China and find myself penning this feature article against the brutal occupation of Tibet. To put it frankly, Tibet is an independent sovereign non-aligned democratic kingdom. I am totally against the tyrannical Sinicization on Tibet instilled by the Communist Regime. The world should sharply help the innocent Tibetans remove Maoism from the Shangri-La. We are just aware that the authentic philosophy of Maoism belongs to China alone and does not apply to Tibet at all. Autonomy is not what the Tibetans demand but solid independence against the Chinese imperialism. Today Tibet is a Chinese colony; tomorrow it shall be liberated. Don't worry ! God shall help us all for a free Tibet. So let us all pray together for that particular optimism. It shall consume a bit of time of course.

Some say a long period back both Nepal and Tibet had been paying tribute to the Chinese Emperor back in Beijing. If that be the sheer case, why does Nepal alone remain separate and Tibet only annexed to the Chinese territory ? This is indeed a mockery towards a weak landlocked state ! What Beijing has exercised absolutely tallies with the old policy of "Might is right" which I am pretty sure won't last long. There arises a vast difference between mainland China and the Himalayan buffer-state of Tibet. The principal points that differ in a sound method include: history, geography, language, scripts, religion, culture, tradition, attire, money, flag, map, politics and the wonder as a world heritage site. As such Tibet is in a fitting position to be recognized a separate nation. They happen to pass through the formalities which are to be traced mandatory for any decent approach to the center of the United Nations Organization (U.N.O.).

The last Chinese Emperor, Dr. Sun Yat Sen and Chiang Kai Shek belonging to the Kumintang Regime all had been recognizing Tibet and Nepal as independent nations. What actually counts is a post-war situation. Past is past and no one should dare or bother to consider events that took place before Christ. It is very obvious to notice that China appears to be a greedy country practicing dirty principles only. Their stubborn gluttony wants to grab Taiwan also --- a republic which is no doubt purely a free island. The Maoists are highly obliged to quit not only Tibet but Manchuria as well.

A gloomy relation must have existed between India and China in the late forties. A new government took over India in 1947 with late Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru as its leader. Two years after a new government also took over China with Comrade Mao Tse-Tung as its leader. Well, Nehru proceeded to Beijing in 1949 and had a V.I.P. discussion with Mao face-to-face at a personal level with only two of them in the private chamber. China was to get hold of Tibet while India to get hold of Nepal. The political negotiation was duly sanctioned; both willfully agreed on the matter of top conspiracy. This also indicates that Tibet resumes not a part of China at all. Why did not Mao fire Nehru ? Instead the former gave in to his encouragement. With someone pushing the Chinese, Beijing did mobilize and started intruding the Tibetan territory most unlawfully since 1951 and in 1959 completely took over. Tibet is the tallest tableland in the globe. As the highest plateau on earth topographically it is also mountainous, very bitter and heavily windy. Thus it took nine long years for the Red Guards to capture it. Not so easy ! But down south India failed in occupying Nepal. They shall keep on lagging behind simply because Nepal is never a part of India. No way ! She fetched her earnest membership in the United Nations Organization in 1955 although had attempted or appealed in 1949 itself. A shame on both --- address it Indo-China affiliation or Sino-India affiliation. Both are merciless sinners for sure !

The majority of the Chinese was seen within the Tibetan soils right after 1959. Why had only a minority of them been living on the Tibetan grounds if Tibet was truly a part of China ? Concerning any bilateral relation with Tibet, the majority of foreigners who had been residing in the alpine kingdom for many centuries having Tibetan wives are none other than the Nepalese alone. Even amongst the Nepalese, strictly speaking, that particular Buddhist community having tied the nuptial knots is the Newar whose mother tongue sounds Tibeto-Burmese in nature. This strongly convinces that Tibet is also respectfully nestled in South Asia. All can clearly witness ten liberal countries to be mapped in South Asia including: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Ceylon, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet. China belongs to North Asia or the Far East, a profound conviction that nobody can deny. In other words North Asia is counted from the Sino-Tibetan border, you see. Justice never occurred in Tibet. Otherwise one Khampa can easily pin down four Chinese straight. Ten Red Guards with modern rifles surround a single Khampa --- what can he possibly do ? This is not fair ! Tibet is bound to get demilitarized as she is too a “Zone of Peace.” Let it not remain a lost horizon always.

The Chinese should either bear the guts to seize Nepal as well or to quit Tibet straight. One or the other ! Teach them to go the square way. The Chinese invasion of Tibet is but a serious offence against human rights. Down with the aggressive Reds ! They have hindered any social feelings; they have violated the Asian solidarity. I would like to congratulate the Chinese in a hearty manner for the relevant progress achieved in China proper, but condemn them for the direct occupation of Tibet seen evidently which their ancestors have never tried before. China, Tibet, Nepal and India constitute as four brothers, four sisters of Asia. They are indeed independent countries geographically and should live in perfect harmony ever after.

The Americans of the United States seem to appear cowards on Tibet issue. They helped liberate Kuwait, but why not help Tibet as well. Some comment Washington D.C. has ignored the case due to the dearth of gas supply. (Many have disclosed this agenda.) So what ! They have a lot of gold, musk, wool, etc. This is an unacceptable excuse whatsoever. It would be very absurd and too foolish as well to have Washington D.C. go after oil countries only. Chase the Yankees to love the Shangri-La. An ally party of multi-nation is desired to support the DALAI LAMA and fight off the obnoxious Reds. The U.N.O. is too acting a hypocrite instead of paying ardent attention to the real cause of the Tibetan society. Taiwan and Tibet must both be offered the due opportunities to enter the U.N.O. and obtain valid membership officially. It is high time for her to reveal the sublime truth. Dormant Tibet will soon be resurrected. Glory be the Roof of the World !

Amrit R. Tuladhar
Lost Horizon

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Culture Vulture: Where is Humility?

"Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." I have been governed by this these words, particularly after I brushed up on the fundamentals of conflict resolution: make observations, not judgments. However, at this moment, I just could not take my eyes off the prevailing "behavioral pattern" of the present crop of Tibetan youth--particularly with respect to the presentation of self to others.

As the saying goes, "you can take Tibetans out of Tibet, but you cannot take Tibet out of Tibetans." The Tibetan struggle as such will last until the last man standing. The real concern therefore may be the question of sustaining the Tibetan(ess) of the Tibetan people. In fact, the Tibetan struggle for freedom is often defined as a struggle to retain the Tibetan identity.

If one were to probe further, one may conclude that the mainstay of a culture is not its external manifestations--say, food, dress, customs, etc. The essence of a culture is in its visceral composition--like the spiritual and ethical (moral) values that are inherited from the forebears. And if the Tibetan cultural identity is to be sustained, the values that are supposed to be embedded in our genes, the values that supposedly shape our actions--deeds, words, omissions and desires--must survive in situ.

My contention, or observation, is therefore how the youth today, including folks of my age, are inculcating or coping with those values. A conspicuous element in the pantheon of Tibetan values could be the emphasis that we have traditionally put on the virtue of humility. This is evident from the rich array of sayings common in Tibetan parlance: a fruit-bearing tree is always hunched; the radiance of gold buried beneath the earth, lights the sky above, and so on.

A typical example could be how our elders usually give a talk--they always begin with a bit of self-deprecation: "I am not qualified enough to speak on this topic. My knowledge and experience are very limited. However, now that so and so has commanded me to speak on this matter, I shall venture some of my thoughts, hoping that they may have some use for you", or something to that effect.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, expressions of humility--like "I wouldn't know (much)", or "My knowledge is limited", etc.--appear to have become passé for the larger part of youth today, including those of my generation. Such decorum is treated as outlandish, totally out of sync with the newfound society—or a chore dismissed as the lingering residual of a bygone era when "public speaking was a refined art that demanded close attention to the laws of rhetoric and the niceties of delivery."

The young and upcoming are not without compelling reasons for this shortage of humility. To begin with, they are eking their living out in a world where there is no such thing as a free lunch--a world of one-upmanship, in which only those who are competent in marketing themselves are entitled to the highest of perks--a world where the operating principle is often not the survival of the fittest, but that of the loudest. It thus necessitates a lot of pruning and posturing. People as such take great pains in perfecting their skills of exuding an aura of all-knowing erudition, beginning with that trademark "I-know-what-I-am-doing" face. The compunction of maintaining a false pretence, I guess, never weighs heavily upon us.

Returning to how the grownups began their talks by playing themselves down, I caught hold of a book, The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking. The blurb on its cover says, "The most brilliant book of its kind"--reprinted 50 times, translated into 11 languages. Expounding on how to express yourself logically, persuasively and convincingly, the author, Dale Carnegie, noted that, "The surest way to antagonize an audience is to indicate that you consider yourself above them...On the other hand, modesty inspires confidence and goodwill. You can be modest without being apologetic. Your audience will like and respect you for suggesting your limitations as long as you show you are determined to do your best."

The author cites Edmund S. Muskie, then US Senator from Maine, as demonstrating this in a speech. "I approach my assignment this morning with many doubts," he began. "In the first place, I am conscious of the professional qualification of this audience, and question the wisdom of exposing my poor talents to your critical view...Facing these doubts, I feel very much like the mosquito who found himself unexpectedly in a nudist colony. I don't know where to begin." Indeed, writes Carnegie, one of the best ways for a speaker to endear himself to the audience is to play himself down. So much for our elders being outlandish and out of sync!

If this article sounds too preachy, or prissy for that matter, it is not meant to be. I have made a habit out of always learning my life lessons the harder way. The lesson on modesty, which I had while in high school, was particularly the hardest of all--at times when my lack of humility begins to turn into hubris, the incident churns up in my mind scene by scene, making me cringe with embarrassment. That year, after the winter tests, I was home on vacation. My test performance was good, in fact so good that I went cock-a-hoop, literally jumping for joy. And I seldom missed a chance to brag about it before my friends and family. One day, tired perhaps of my infantile braggadocio, my elder brother asked me,

"So, how are you in math?"

"First class," I bragged--I was the math topper.

"How much did you score?"

"30," I said.

The fact that I was the topper was ridiculously meaningless, for just as the rest of the class, I had failed that test. To pass a test one must score at least 33 out of 100 points. But that minute detail never bothered me. All I cared for was "I am the topper." Then, just as my elation had subsided, my brother told me what was to be indelibly etched in my memory--"You see Dhundup, there are three kinds of first class: The first class of the first class; the first class of the second class; and the first class of the third class. And you my friend, are the first class of the third class." Period!

Dhondup Gyalpo

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Speaking of beggars

IF THERE IS such a thing as a bumper sale on acquiring meritorious karma, it is on the 15th day of the fourth Saka month of the Tibetan lunar calendar - marked as the day of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and parinirvana. Tibetans believe that any meritorious deed performed on this sacred day yields far greater results than those on any ordinary day. It is equivalent to buying one, getting many thousands free. Because of this multiplying effect, even those who are usually lackadaisical in exerting themselves for meritorious karma are tempted to make a stab at chanting mantras, circumambulating temples, or simply doling out alms to beggars.

As was usual every year, when I went for linkhor on this auspicious day - which this year fell on 31 May - a long sprawl of beggars dotted the entire length of the ring of the path girding the hill of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's residence and the Tsuglakhang. The army of beggars reminded me of a model paragraph that I had mugged up at school. It went something like: There are two kinds of beggar: voluntary beggars, and those who are victims of misfortune. Its punch line was that we should keep the first type at an arm's length, while being sympathetic to the latter.

As I started doling out one rupee coin to a select few of the hapless lot, including the children and the lepers, the moral of that paragraph never bothered me - not even when one of the "voluntary beggars" asked me, "Babu, do you want change...for 50, 100...?" He might have raised the stakes to 500, had I kept listening to him!

I went on, but my pockets dried up even before I had gone half-way. For the rest of my linkhor, whenever someone raised their bowl towards me, their expectant looks made me feel ill at ease, but did not bother me much. Years of experience, I guessed, had made them professionals in the business of begging, for they knew whom to nag and whom to ignore.

As I proceeded a little further, I noted that the beggars were tribes or clans from certain impoverished areas of the neighboring states. None of them were Tibetan - not even the few junkies that we occasionally bumped into at McLeod Gunj had marked their presence there. But strange as it may sound, I felt no pride in that thought.

My reason takes me to a noted writer-columnist—Kushwant Singh. Once when he appeared as guest on the TV show "Movers & Shakers" (the Indian version of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"), Mr Singh was asked why most of his jokes are about his Sikh community. He responded by saying that only those who have full faith, confidence and pride in their people are capable of making fun of themselves. As a concrete proof of the Sikh community's self-pride, he then said, "Have you ever seen a [turbaned] Punjabi begging on the road?"

Mr Kushwant Singh, I really envy you on that, for I cannot say the same for my people. Beggars today are a common sight in all over Tibet. The images of Lhasa on this 15th day of Saka month showed its streets choked with thousands of Tibetan beggars. The capital city of the Land of Snows, a land that has never in its entire history known something remotely as a famine, has been reduced to dire poverty in just about half a century of Chinese occupation.

Even as China continues to dazzle the world with its economic boom, Tibet appears to have been shut out of it - if the growing number of Tibetan beggars is any indication. A report published in 1998 quoted a beggar saying that there were more than 3,000 beggars in Lhasa. The figure now is 8,000, according to media reports. This figure also includes an increasing number of Chinese beggars. Since the Gormo-Lhasa railway hit the tracks - which was supposed to enable Tibetan beggars to beg in rich Chinese cities - it has instead opened a floodgate of Chinese migrant workers, prostitutes and beggars into Tibet.

The new influx of Chinese beggars means the daily ordeal of Tibetan beggars has gotten a lot worse. A veteran Indian journalist, Vijay Kranti, following a visit to Tibet, once noted that the domination of Chinese people is visible even in the case of beggars. "When you visited the Lhasa Jokhang temple, the best sites for begging were always allotted to the Chinese beggars, while the Tibetan beggars were driven to the periphery."

The Tibetan people's ability to be self-reliant is articulated in many of our common adages: A Tibetan who has even a nail-sized piece of land will never die of starvation. However, given the years of Chinese colonial economic policies, coupled with the great influx of Chinese migrants, an overwhelming number of Tibetans in all walks of life have been edged out to extreme penury. For them, begging is not an option, but a necessity of the last resort.

Dhondup Gyalpo

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Epilogue to LOST HORIZON

-- James Hilton

It was in Delhi that I met Rutherford again. We had been guests at a Viceregal dinner-party, but distance and ceremonial kept us apart until the turbaned flunkeys handed us our hats afterwards. “Come back to my hotel and have a drink,” he invited.

We shared a cab along the arid miles between the Lutyens still-life and the warm, palpitating motion picture of Old Delhi. I knew from the newspapers that he had just returned from Kashgar. He was one of those well-groomed reputations that get the most out of everything; any usual holiday acquires the character of an exploration, and though the explorer takes care to do nothing really original, the public does not know this, and he capitalizes the full value of a hasty impression. It had not seemed to me, for instance, that Rutherford’s journey, as reported in the press, had been particularly epoch-making; the buried cities of Khotan were old stuff, if any one remembered Stein and Sven Hedin. I knew Rutherford well enough to chaff him about this, and he laughed. “Yes, the truth would have made a better story,” he admitted cryptically.

We went to his hotel room and drank whisky. “So you did search for Conway?” I suggested when the moment seemed propitious.

“Search is much too strong a word,” he answered. “You can’t search a country half as big as Europe for one man. All I can say is that I have visited places where I was prepared to come across him or to get news of him. His last message, you remember, was that he had left Bangkok for the northwest. There were traces of him up-country for a little way, and my own opinion is that he probably made for the tribal districts on the Chinese border. I don’t think he’d have cared to enter Burma, where he might have run up against British officials. Any how, the definite trail, you may say, peters out somewhere in Upper Siam, but of course I never expected to follow it that far.”

“You thought it might be easier to look for the valley of Blue Moon?”

“Well, it did seem as if it might be a more fixed proposition. I suppose you glanced at that manuscript of mine?”

“Much more than glanced at it. I should have returned it, by the way, but you left no address.”

Rutherford nodded. “I wonder what you made of it?”

“I thought it very remarkable---assuming, of course, that it’s all quite genuinely based on what Conway told you.”

“I give you my solemn word for that. I invented nothing at all---indeed, there’s even less of my own language in it than you might think. I’ve got a good memory, and Conway always had a way of describing things. Don’t forget that we had about twenty-four hours of practically continuous talk.”

“Well, as I said, it’s all very remarkable.”

He leaned back and smiled. “If that’s all you‘re going to say, I can see I shall have to speak for myself. I suppose you consider me a rather credulous person. I don’t really think I am. People make mistakes in life through believing too much, but they have a damned dull time if they believe too little. I was certainly taken with Conway’s story---in more ways than one---and that was why I felt interested enough to put as many tabs on it as I could---apart from the chance of running up against the man himself.”

He went on, after lighting a cigar. “It meant a good deal of odd journeying, but I like that sort of thing, and my publishers can’t object to a travel book once in a while. Altogether I must have done some thousands of miles---Baskul, Bangkok, Chung-Kiang, Kashgar---I visited them all, and somewhere inside the area between them the mystery lives. But it’s a pretty big area, you know, and all my investigations didn’t touch more than the fringe of it---or of the mystery either, for that matter. Indeed, if you want the actual down-right facts about Conway’s adventures, so far as I’ve been able to verify them, all I can tell you is that he left Baskul on the twentieth of May and arrived in Chung-Kiang on the fifth of October. And the last we know of him is that he left Bangkok again on the third of February. All the rest is probability, possibility, guesswork, myth, legend, whatever you like to call it.”

“So you didn’t find anything in Tibet?”

“My dear fellow, I never got into Tibet at all. The people up at Government House wouldn’t hear of it; it’s as much as they’ll do to sanction an Everest expedition, and when I said I thought of wandering about the Kuen-Luns on my own, they looked at me rather as if I’d suggested writing a life of Gandhi. As a matter of fact, they knew more than I did. Strolling about Tibet isn’t a one-man job; it needs an expedition properly fitted out and run by some one who knows at least a word or two of the language. I remember when Conway was telling me his story I kept wondering why there was all that fuss about waiting for porters---why didn’t they simply walk off? I wasn’t very long in discovering. The Government people were quite right---all the passports in the world couldn’t have got me over the Kuen-Luns. I actually went as far as seeing them in the distance, on a very clear day---perhaps fifty miles off. Not many Europeans can claim even that.”

“Are they so very forbidding?”

“They looked just like a white frieze on the horizon, that was all. At Yarkand and Kashgar I questioned every one I met about them, but it was extraordinary how little I could discover. I should think they must be the least-explored range in the world. I had the luck to meet an American traveler who had once tried to cross them, but he’d been unable to find a pass. There are passes, he said, but they are terrifically high and unmapped. I asked him if he thought it possible for a valley to exist of the kind Conway described, and he said he wouldn’t call it impossible, but he thought it not very likely---on geological grounds, at any rate. Then I asked if he had ever heard of a cone-shaped mountain almost as high as the highest of the Himalayas, and his answer to that was rather intriguing. There was a legend, he said, about such a mountain, but he thought himself there could be no foundation for it. There were even rumors, he added, about mountains actually higher than Everest, but he didn’t himself give credit to them. ‘I doubt if any peak in the Kuen-Luns is more than twenty-five thousand feet, if that’ he said. But he admitted that they had never been properly surveyed.

“Then I asked him what he knew about Tibetan lamaseries---he’d been in the country several times---and he gave me just the usual accounts that one can read in all the books. They weren’t beautiful places, he assured me, and the monks in them were generally corrupt and dirty. ‘Do they live long?’ I asked, and he said yes, they often did, if they didn’t die of some filthy disease. Then I went boldly to the point and asked if he’d ever heard legends of extreme longevity among the lamas. ‘Heaps of them,’ he answered: ‘it’s one of the stock yarns you hear everywhere, but you can’t verify them. You’re told that some foul-looking creature has been walled up in a cell for a hundred years, and he certainly looks as if he might have been, but of course you can’t demand his birth certificate.’ I asked him if he thought they had any occult or medicinal way of prolonging life or preserving youth, and he said they were supposed to have a great deal of very curious knowledge about such things, but he suspected that if you come to look into it, it was rather like the Indian rope trick---always something that somebody else had seen. He did say, however, that the lamas appeared to have odd powers of bodily control. I’ve watched them,’ he said, ‘sitting by the edge of a frozen lake, stark naked, with a temperature below zero and in a tearing wind, while their servants break the ice and wrap sheets round them that have been dipped in the water. They do this a dozen times or more, and the lamas dry the sheets on their own bodies. Keeping warm by will-power, so one imagines, though that’s a poor sort of explanation.’ ”

Rutherford helped himself to more drink. “But of course, as my American friend admitted, all that had nothing much to do with longevity. It merely showed that the lamas had somber tastes in self-discipline…So there we were, and probably you’ll agree with me that all the evidence, so far, was less than you’d hang a dog on.”

I said it was certainly inconclusive, and asked if the names “Karakal” and “Shangri-La” had meant anything to the American.

“Not a thing---I tried him with them. After I’d gone on questioning him for a time, he said: ‘rankly, I’m not keen on monasteries---indeed, I once told a fellow I met in Tibet that if I went out of my way at all, it would be to avoid them, not pay them a visit.’ That chance remark of his gave me a curious aide, and I asked him when this meeting in Tibet had taken place. ‘Oh, a long time ago,’ he answered, ‘before the War---in nineteen eleven, I think it was.’ I badgered him for further details, and he gave them, as well as he could remember. It seemed that he’d been traveling then for some American geographical society, with several colleagues, porters, and so on---in fact, a pukka expedition. Somewhere near the Kuen-Luns he met this other man, a Chinese who was being carried in a chair by native bearers. The fellow turned out to speak English quite well, and strongly recommended them to visit a certain lamasery in the neighborhood---he even offered to be the guide there. The American said they hadn’t time and weren’t interested, and that was that.” Rutherford went on, after an interval: “I don’t suggest that it means a great deal. When a man tries to remember a casual incident that happened twenty years ago, you can’t build too much on it. But it offers an attractive speculation.”

“Yes, though if a well equipped-expedition had accepted the invitation, I don’t see how they could have been detained at the lamasery against their will.”

“Oh, quite. And perhaps it wasn’t Shangri-La at all.”

We thought it over, but it seemed too hazy for argument, and I went on to ask if there had been any discoveries at Baskul.

“Baskul was hopeless, and Peshwar was worse. Nobody could tell me anything, except that the kidnapping of the aeroplane did undoubtedly take place. They weren’t keen even to admit that---it’s an episode they’re not proud of.”

“And nothing was heard of the plane afterwards?”

“Not a word of a rumor, or of its four passengers either. I verified, however, that it was capable of climbing high enough to cross the ranges. I also tried to trace that fellow Barnard, but I found his past history so mysterious that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he really were Chalmers Bryant, as Conway said. After all, Bryant’s complete disappearance in the midst of the big hue and cry was rather amazing.”

“Did you try to find anything about the actual kidnapper?”

“I did. But again it was hopeless. The Air Force man whom the fellow had knocked out and impersonated had since been killed, so one promising line of enquiry was closed. I even wrote to a friend of mine in America who runs an aviation school, asking if he had had any Tibetan pupils lately, but his reply was prompt and disappointing. He said he couldn’t differentiate Tibetans from Chinese, and he had had about fifty of the latter---all training to fight the Japs. Not much chance there, you see. But I did make one rather quaint discovery---and which I could have made just as easily without leaving London. There was a German professor at Jena about the middle of the last century who took to globe-trotting and visited Tibet in 1887. He never came back, and there was some story about him having been drowned in fording a river. His name was Friedrich Meister.”

“Good heavens---one of the names Conway mentioned!”

“Yes---though it may only have been coincidence. It doesn’t prove the whole story, by any means, because the Jena fellow was born in 1845. Nothing very exciting about that.”

“But it’s odd,” I said.

‘Oh, yes, it’s odd enough.”

“Did you succeed in tracing any of the others?”

“No. It’s a pity I hadn’t a longer list to work on. I couldn’t find any record of a pupil of Chopin’s called Briac, though of course that doesn’t prove that there wasn’t one. Conway was pretty sparing with his names, when you come to think about it---out of fifty odd lamas supposed to be on the premises he only gave us one or two. Perrault and Henschell, by the way, proved equally impossible to trace.”

“How about Mallinson?” I asked. “Did you try to find out what happened to him? And that girl---the Chinese girl?”

“My dear fellow, of course I did. The awkward part was, as you perhaps gathered from the manuscript, that Conway’s story ended at the moment of leaving the valley with the porters. After that he either couldn’t or wouldn’t tell what happened---perhaps he might have done, mind you, if there’d be more time. I feel that we can guess at some sort of tragedy. The hardships of the journey would be perfectly appalling, apart from the risk of brigandage or even treachery among their own escorting party. Probably we shall never know exactly what did occur, but it seems tolerably certain that Mallinson never reached China. I made all sorts of enquiries, you know. First of all I tried to trace details of books, et cetera, sent in large consignments across the Tibetan frontier, but at all the likely places, such as Shanghai and Pekin, I drew complete blanks. That, of course, doesn’t count for much, since the lamas would doubtless see that their methods of importation were kept secret. Then I tried at Tatsien-Fu. It’s a weird place, a sort of world’s-end market town, deuced difficult to get at, where the Chinese coolies from Yunnan transfer their loads of tea to the Tibetans. You can read about it in my new book when it comes out. Europeans don’t often get as far. I found the people quite civil and courteous, but there was absolutely no record of Conway’s party arriving at all.”

“So how Conway himself reached Chung-Kiang is still unexplained?”

“The only conclusion is that he wandered there, just as he might have wandered anywhere else. Anyhow, we’re back in the realm of hard facts when we get to Chung-Kiang, that’s something. The nuns at the mission hospital were genuine enough, and so, for that matter, was Sieveking’s excitement on the ship when Conway played that pseudo-Chopin.” Rutherford paused and then added reflectively: “It’s really an exercise in the balancing of probabilities, and I must say the scales don’t bump very emphatically either way. Of course if you don’t accept Conway’s story, it means that you doubt either his veracity or his sanity---one may as well be frank.”

He paused again, as if inviting a comment, and I said: “As you know, I never saw him after the War, but people said he was a good deal changed by it.”

Rutherford answered: “Yes, and he was, there’s no denying the fact. You can’t subject a mere boy to three years of intense physical and emotional stress without tearing something to tatters. People would say, I suppose, that he came through without a scratch. But the scratches were there---on the inside.”

We talked for a little time about the War and its effects on various people, and at length he went on: “But there’s just one more point that I must mention---and perhaps in some ways the oddest of all. It came out during my enquiries at the mission. They all did their best for me there, as you can guess, but they couldn’t recollect much, especially as they’d been so busy with a fever epidemic at the time. One of the questions I put was about the manner Conway had reached the hospital first of all---whether he had presented himself alone, or had been found ill and been taken there by some one else. They couldn’t exactly remember---after all, it was a long while back---but suddenly, when I was on the point of giving up the cross-examination, one of the nuns remarked quite casually, ‘I think the doctor said he was brought here by a woman.’ That was all she could tell me, and as the doctor himself had left the mission, there was no confirmation to be had on the spot.

“But having got so far, I wasn’t in any mood to give up. It appeared that the doctor had gone to a bigger hospital in Shanghai, so I took the trouble to get his address and call on him there. It was just after the Jap air-raiding, and things were pretty grim. I’d met the man before during my first visit to Chung-Kiang, and he was very polite, though terribly overworked---yes, terribly’s the word, for, believe me, the air-raids on London by the Germans were just nothing to what the Japs did to the native parts of Shanghai. Oh, yes, he said instantly, he remembered the case of the Englishman who had lost his memory. Was it true he had been brought to the mission hospital by a woman? I asked. Oh, yes, certainly by a woman, a Chinese woman. Did he remember anything about her? Nothing, he answered, except that she had been ill of the fever herself, and had died almost immediately…. Just then there was an interruption---a batch of wounded were carried in and packed on stretchers in the corridors---the wards were all full---and I didn’t care to go on taking up the man’s time, especially as the thudding of the guns at Woosung was a reminder that he would still have plenty to do. When he came back to me, looking quite cheerful even amidst such ghastliness, I just asked him one final question, and I dare say you can guess what it was. ‘About that Chinese woman,’ I said. ‘Was she young?’”

Rutherford flicked his cigar as if the narration had excited him quite as much as he hoped it had me. Continuing, he said: “The little fellow looked at me solemnly for a moment, and then answered in that funny clipped English that the educated Chinese have---‘Oh, no, she was most old---most old of any one I have ever seen.’”

We sat for a long time in silence, and then talked again of Conway as I remembered him, boyish and gifted and full of charm, and of the War that had altered him, and of so many mysteries of time and age and of the mind, and of the little Manchu who had been “most old”, and of the strange ultimate dream of Blue Moon. “Do you think he will ever find it?” I asked.

April, 1933

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