‘Tears of the Past’: Imprisoned Tibetan writer Gangkye Drupa Kyab in translation

Tibetan writer, teacher, and father of two, Gangkye Drupa Kyab
Imprisoned Tibetan writer, poet, teacher, and father of two, Gangkye Drupa Kyab

Gangkye Drupa Kyab is a writer, poet, teacher and a father of two who was sentenced early this month to five years and six months in prison for alleged political activities.

Gangkye Drupa Kyab was first detained on the night of 15 February 2012 by a group of about 20 Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers from his home in Serta (Ch: Seda) County. His house was raided and his wife, Wangchuk Lhamo, was given no explanation despite repeated appeals at the time of detention. Since then, for 17 months, his whereabouts remained unknown to family and friends until his sentencing on 1 August 2013.

Choenyi Woeser, an exile Tibetan journalist and a childhood friend of Drupa Kyab told TCHRD that local Tibetans consider Drupa Kyab a highly conscientious individual and teacher, having a great love and respect for Tibetan culture and language.

During his primary school days, Drupa Kyab was physically weak and no one expected him to perform great tasks, Woeser remembers. However, he had a melodious voice and teachers often made him sing songs. But one day, his relative, in whose house he was staying suffered injuries in a brawl. Immediately, Drupa Kyab came to his rescue and defended him. As a student, he was focused on his studies and respectful to his teachers, but had no interest in sports.

Drupa Kyab has written many essays and poems under the name of Gangkye Drupa Kyab and Gang Metak.

TCHRD has translated and edited two short poems composed by Drupa Kyab. The poems reveal the suffering and pain endured by Tibetans during the crackdown on 2008 protests, and the hardships faced by ordinary Tibetans trapped in the web of official corruption and profiteering.

Tears of the Past

The history of the Snow-landers
When I think of it now, all I get is tears
No moments of joy occur in our hearts
When all we do now is swallow tears

In the midst of illusory history
And the war of the brazen reds
Countless Tibetan lives have been lost
Ah, this suffering!

Amid the war of the past
Our protector exiled behind the snow-mountains
The red terror tramples upon the Tibetan people
Who can endure the present loss?


All the Mind Yearns for is Money

All the mind yearns for is money
As nature is turned upside down the body and mind suffer
To dispel suffering, they search for lords and deities everywhere
The facilities and skills of modern science
Cannot be secured easily without money

The golden rope of the historical past
And the sovereign kings benefited everyone
No service is more honorable on this earth
Than governing subjects with love and compassion

Today the glorious past appears like a dream
Words and souls are bought off for private gains
The divine nature of love and compassion is abandoned
All the minds yearn for is money

Registering names and securing medical certificates
Paying medical bills and consulting doctors
Getting admitted into hospitals all occur through hook and crook
There’s no fair and equal treatment

Sick patients throng hospitals
Bodies and souls worn down by weight of suffering
Those who cannot back up medicines with money
Are on the verge of dying

Young and old patients throng hospitals
Loved ones visit them
Their eyes filled with torments of love
Thinking of them I suffer a mixed feeling of joy and sadness

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