Tang Danhong is a poet and filmmaker from Chengdu, Sichuan. She currently lives in Israel. She blogs at Moments of Samsara [zh] and tweets @DanHongTang.
This essay was first published January 2013 in Hong Kong’s Open Magazine (here). CDT translated another essay by Tang in 2008 called Tibet: Her Pain, My Shame, which became one of CDT’s most popular and most commented-on posts ever.
Fire Between the Dark and the Cold
From the very beginning of my experience with Tibet, I fell in love with the Tibetan people, their culture, and their faith. Their unique hospitality, charm, good humor, and confident attitude moved me quite deeply. They convey a priceless character through their smiles and their eyes, and the way they serve their tea and toast their wine, the way they spin prayer wheels. It’s a special kind of character that makes one feel warm and think deeply. This special character of theirs is intimately related to their land and Mother Nature, to their language and wisdom, and to their faith and philosophy about the world. I cherish most their understanding of, and universal compassion for, the tough realities experienced by all forms of life.
But never in my life have I imagined that so many of these people whom I love, at this very moment that I am writing this essay, already over 100 men and women, wish to cover their bodies with gasoline, drink gasoline, and calmly walk down to the grasslands, or along small village paths, or to the gates of the local government building, or to the town roads, or to the gate of a temple, and on this land and under this sky that once belonged to them, set themselves on fire, to cry out in their language, and to die on
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