Teaser 327: Dire Consequences of A Trip to Tibet
In Lhasa, perhaps one of the most peaceful and idyllic spots on Earth, unrest, dissension and violent actions, both from and against the Chinese “occupation,” had resulted in declaration from Bejing for martial law to be imposed, with strict curfews and many arrests. There was now a large and very visible Chinese military presence in Lhasa and it didn't appear from most outside witnesses to be something of short duration. Add to this the fact Chodak's wife had been detained for questioning about Chodak's most recent employment, my former guide and I had a long discussion.
“They have information, Al-Barrak, that you were seen in Lhasa after I passed the roadblock to Barang. Since they know I never returned to Lhasa once I passed the roadblock, they have become very suspicious about you and me and what took place during your entire visit. I suspect if I return to Lhasa I will be questioned for days, during which they will try to break me. We all know how the Chinese operate. It will be a matter of time and they'll know everything.”
“You're not going back, Chodak, and if they try to extradite you, I will fight it, including appealing to the Indian authorities to have you declared a political refugee. Instead, can we get your family here?”
“They will never make it overland and they're banned from flying.”
“Your friend is still in Lhasa?”
“Yes. They refuse to allow him to return to Barang to be with his family and they have detained and questioned him, too.”
My trip into Lhasa to speak with Nyima now had dire consequences. Though I had no method to discover the fate of Nyima, I was concerned about her, too. The trip helped me but now hurt other innocents and there seemed little I could do about it. What was working to my advantage was Chodak never spoke about the monks or my diversion into Sichuan province to anyone and none of the monks were under any suspicion at all. The Chinese authorities knew nothing about it. While we were trying to devise some cover to explain the sighting of Al-Barrak in Lhasa when he was supposed to be in Barang, Jangchup arrived at my house. All smiles with several gracious bows, Jangchup advised, “Big Chief wants to meet with you.” He then laughed gregariously.
A quick trip to Dharamsala via sedan and I again met with the Big Chief, who immediately howled with laughter when I called him so upon reaching him. This time the Big Chief and I wandered about the grounds discussing my excursion into Tibet. He already knew most of the details and he also knew some were in peril because of it. “But it will not be the result of all this, Al-Barrak,” the Big Chief assured me. “There are ways those in Beijing may be persuaded to let them all leave safely.”
“How can I accomplish it?”
“You have many friends all over the world, Al-Barrak. The grinding of the miller has created much good will. The miller is married to one in Germany and she holds very persuasive information.” The Big Chief turned to me wearing a wide grin. “Your life was threatened, those in China were well aware of it, yet they refused to take reasonable steps to ensure your safety, purely out of self-interest. Look at what they do now. They have restricted travel, are detaining and arresting countless Tibetans. This unrest serves the authorities in Beijing well. Your trip to Tibet has served them well.”
“What do you suggest I do?”
“The one you met at the bank will protect you. We know of her. All they can confirm is you were seen in Lhasa but no one can confirm it was you. Thus, no one can be certain it wasn't someone impersonating you, perhaps someone with intent to harm you, Al-Barrak. You should begin to help your guide gain status here in India as a political refugee, and we shall help you. Collectively, voices the world over can be very persuasive and since some in high positions in Beijing are starting to unravel and bicker among themselves, we shall see how long they wish to pursue such intimidation for so little to gain.” Suddenly the Big Chief issued a loud and long bellow of laughter. “How can they possibly stop the miller, the one whose inner bond between beings is strong enough to attract a butterfly?” He laughed long and loud again. “Everyone knows a butterfly recognizes the difference between a rock, a plant and a living being. No butterfly would ever set down on a living being.”
While I was considering exactly how the Big Chief knew what happened the afternoon in Serena's garden when I planted the garlic with Jose's help and his witness, there was an orange butterfly swooping around in our immediate vicinity. Smiling large the Big Chief lifted his right arm away from his body like a post and seconds later the butterfly landed on his wrist. The Big Chief turned to look at the butterfly on his wrist and kept his focus on it until it flapped away seconds later. Wearing his infectious grin, the Big Chief restated, “No butterfly would ever set down on a living being.”
- Just Desserts, Segment Forty-One “Exit Tibet” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021
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