Every day at dawn when the great horns- dungchen- were blown for the villagers to congregate for prayers in the Temple. I went too. I sat cross-legged on my hassock facing a large portrait of the Dhali Lama, swathed in a wreath of flowers, he is the spiritual father of all Buddhists, and had been exiled from when the Chinese took over Tiber in 1956
I faced him and all the statues of Buddha around the Temple and I prayed Christian style to any deity who would listen for the safe deliverance of Nick to heaven.
I had learned quickly that all religions have the same message. ‘Love thy fellow man, Do him no harm’ I was sure God would hear me no matter where or how I prayed., but somewhere deep inside my soul I could not believe that Nick was dead, I could feel his presence so close to me sometimes, I felt I could touch him and smell him. Perhaps that was his ghost, I thought.
I sat in on the teachings of Buddha and I remember one day one of the monks telling me how a novitiate has travelled with his master the Lama to the Karakoran range of mountains, which stretched and resided mainly in South West China, North East Pakistan and North West India, extending some 280 miles between the Pamirs and the Himalayas, including K2, the second highest mountain in the World.
It had been many years before that the novitiate and his master had travelled there, enduring great hardship;but now there was the Karakoran Highway over the Khunjeran Pass, at a height of 16,188 feet high, connecting China with Pakistan; It must be the highest pass in the world.
At that time I marvelled at the endurance of the Lama and his novitiate, but on further aquaintance of the Tibetan people, nothing about their endurance surprised me.
Every year there is a festival
the tsechus which is dedicated to the Guru Rinpoche.
In the days preceding the festival, ritual offerings are made in the secrecy of the Temple. Then the dancers don masks and beautiful coloured clothing and they dance.. but it isn’t any old dance, it is a way of giving lively instruction in the religious philosophy of the Buddha. It is said that the dance leads to purification and deliverance.
They were very bright and cheered everyone up. Not that they needed it, but it certainly helped me.
I witnessed four of those festivals, so I knew I had been with the people of the village for four years.
One day I was summoned to the Lama. He was very excited. Another Lama and his entourage of monks were travelling through on their way to Bhutan. He thought perhaps I would like to travel with them. Once in Bhutan I would be outside of any Chinese Interference or threat and I could get home to England from there.
I couldn’t speak.!! Neither their language or my own would come to mind, I just gawked at him. He gently took my hand and stroked it. ‘We will be sad to lose you my child, but I am sure there are others in your homeland who also love you’
The tears started up again. Naturally, I wanted to go home to Uncle Lawrence, but I also didn’t want to leave these lovely people and the fantastic place., also Nick was here somewhere, somehow, or at least his spirit was.
I did go of course, with the Lama and his monks. Back the way we had come. It was spring again by now and the only snow was on the peaks of the mountains.The valley floor was covered in lush grass. I rode on a Yak, its warm fur against my legs felt comforting, which was just as well, it was a long ride.
The monks had a small tent , just for me, but they cooked and provided all my food.
When they prayed, I prayed. I did not want to look in any way conspicuous if we were being watched through binoculars. Though I have to say we didn’t ‘see’ anyone at all.
Bhutan the Kingdom of the Dragon nestles between Tibet and India. It has the advantage of always having a moderate climate.Snow on the mountains, of course, but almost jungle conditions on the lower plains. The people, Buddhist also, welcomed me with open arms and it was they who made all the arrangements for my journey to India, and then home.