Observations from the conqueror’s diary

When the British invaded Tibet in 1904, the Tibetan rulers fled,

and waited from a distance for the river to flip blue.

It’s no longer definite what they did with their time. The victors

had been meticulous of their notes in regards to the land they sought

to strip. They noticed, as even though they had been first

to stare, how dryness dulls leaves. The declare moist thing

being water, even there, no tall beauty. Tibet,

the correspondent Perceval Landon wrote, changed into as soon as undiscovered

land or the final nation to be found by the civilized world.1

Noting the evening-sky’s fury spilling, staining, from the put

the navy camped upon a tongue of land, the empire’s scribe

connected it changed into as soon as becoming that the English, devoted servants

of progress had taken up the process. The diary of the conqueror

is clear, the pure white remains referent. Oaks grow

right here, even though in a chastened scheme. A lone fowl within the air,

rock, lichen, feathery stunted juniper. A peculiar set.

The males had been afraid to examine English inventory

rising in 5 pots originate air a condo. Vegetation recorded

and named, the sameness of native, anonymous. Covered in mud

its folk, arriving or leaving, the same. Ladies and males

the same; dusty, formless. Two-legged hills, squatting river

beds, water as silly about its route because the folk. Covered

in beautiful sunshine, mud, statues of scowling Buddhas

stared morosely in every home. An unprofitable selfishness

condemns hermits to caves, they be pleased nothing however prayers,

the scribe wrote. Prayers round necks, prayers crusting lips.

For medication Tibetans ate superstition requiring neither analysis

nor cleanliness: dragon’s blood, powdered lizards, dry yellow

mud, particles and scrapings from a cup, bits of paper with prayers

in pills. Ineffective, Tibetans had been slit in pieces and left for vultures. Loam,

as fertile because the Darling Downs.

The scribe notes that the Tibetan housewife throws a stone higher

than her European counterpart. Despite her grimy face,

despite the newborn in her fingers, despite the turquoise crown,

despite having a note like winter stone. Presumably he changed into as soon as pondering

of a declare girl at home recalled against a cloudless,

blue sky. It changed into as soon as no longer the long-established extra or less battling. The straight traces

of a barren panorama, the excessive friendliness of the mud,

and in most cases, the folk considered in words. The scribe

within the navy reveals how empires write tales. Stripes on hillside

point to respite from the monotony of sameness: the umber of clefts,

evil red willows, right here and there short-tempered maroon swaddling males in robes.

Same search on the opposite side of the river or valley. Right here and there,

crumbling homes, right here and there thistles straddling rocks.

The heaviness of the lungs, right here and there, a gradual. References

to hills, references to maps, references to birds and rocks. Hardship,

all important. All records important for it is miles from within the support of boulders

that hiding Tibetans spring like they’re ideal fair entering

their very private memoir. The day’s work is recorded in counting the dull

and the wounded. A lark. A spider dizzy within the frost.

1 Perceval Langdon. Lhasa: An Account of the Nation and Folks of Central Tibet and of the progress of the mission sent there by the English govt within the year 1903-4. Hurst & Blackett, 1905

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