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summer 2013 212

Instead of carrying out out my fourth assignment in the way suggested, I put a slight twist to it. I remembered an incident which happened to me a few years ago involving (in a round about way) such a person (A dream reader)Someone whom I would love to have read my posts or  letters.



The sun was just a red line above the mist covered hills when Dechen opened the door of her small house.

She had slept well despite her excitement and as she walked down the dirt track to let the hens out and gather their eggs, she cheerfully wound a colored scarf around her head tucking stray bits of her dark hair in tidily and humming to herself.

Godi, her old dog stirred himself and followed her a few steps but realising there was no titbits for him he lay down again out of the chill breeze.

At the henhouse, the cockerel made a go at her legs but for once instead of banging a stick at him she just laughed.

His attempts were half hearted anyway. He was clever and recognised the hand that fed him and his harem and he knew to do just enough to let her know who was in charge. The bunch of hens ran out after him and he strutted off loudly, picking here and there and at the grain she had thrown for them, giving her a chance to duck inside.

As she picked the still warm eggs, her thoughts turned to her tall strong son.

She hoped he was eating well.

Her eyes filled with tears but she brushed them off and with her pocket filled with the warm eggs made her way back to the house. Today was a happy day she reminded herself.

Old Dorgie was sitting outside his house in the morning sun for an hour when she threaded her way down towards the village, stepping lightly over yak dung.

‘Your sprightly this morning Dechen’ He called out hoping she would stop for a chat.

He would be ninety eight this summer! No longer good on his feet, he depended on friendly neighbours to give him the news as he sat there passing the time of day.

Despite his inability to walk too far, his eyes and ears were as sharp as razors and he had heard her coming from a long way off.

But today instead of stopping as she would normally do and giving him one of her warm ‘Kasai’ straight from the oven and wrapped in a clean piece of cloth, she just waved a greeting to him and hurried on.

Rounding the corner she nearly knocked over a woman carrying two buckets of water.

‘Hey Dechen!’ the woman stopped and put the buckets down, slopping water over the sides onto her felt shoes.

‘Choden! sorry!’ the two women smiled at each other in recognition.

Good friends that they were.

‘Choden how are you? here, let me help you’ Dechen was already lifting one of the buckets.

Chodens smile was so wide , it nearly split her face in two.

‘Its today isn’t it’ she said, more a statement than a question.

‘Yes’ Dechen replied happily ‘its today’

They started walking together each carrying a bucket.

‘I was hoping I would bump into you’ Choden exclaimed. ‘Will you come in for some tea’

‘I have made fresh bread’ She continued invitingly and when she saw the hesitation in her friends face she added ‘just out of the oven, and the pot is on’.

‘I should really keep going’ Denchen replied reluctantly ‘I want to get to the post office before the queue gets too long’

They had reached Chodens house and she set the bucket down at the door.

‘You know how it is with people, looking for all sorts of forms and asking too many questions’

‘I know what you mean, but why go to the post office at all’? Choden asked ‘Stay here and have tea. We can leave the door open and keep an eye out for the postman. It’ll save you a long trip down to Gamtog and I haven’t seen you for ages or at least not since Tenzin went. How long is that now? It must be four week’s? Come on just have one bowl. It will be good for you! You’ve been hiding yourself away since he went’.

‘Well ok!’ Dechen sighed ‘We do spend a lot of time traipsing up and down the mountain and I haven’t been avoiding you, just feeling a bit sad and missing him’

She followed her friend inside but sat near the open door.

Though the sun was climbing it was still chilly. She wrapped her hands gratefully around the bowl of tea her friend handed her.

She kept one eye on the door all the same though as they caught up with the news

‘That will be him now’ Choden said getting up to pour them another bowl of tea as a distant dog barked and sure enough a small man appeared with a sack on his back.

He spotted the two women through the open door and called out a greeting.

‘Come have some tea’ Choden called to him ‘and put this poor woman out of her misery’ She teased.

Dechen was already half standing, her two hands clasped to her chest as though in prayer when the postman stepped through the door.

As he stretched his hand forward towards her, a wide smile broke out across her face and she almost snatched the proffered envelope from him.

They watched in silence as she turned it over and back as if examining a precious stone of great value.

The white of the envelope with the strange writing amazed her.

She held it up to the light then down again to frown at it. Jammed between the tibetan writing and the four stamps were strange letters which she could not understand. She then turned her attention to the stamps, examining them closely and running her fingers over the shiny texture. A fish, a snail, a badger, a swan. Creatures she didn’t recognise.

She even put her nose to the envelope for a moment before laughing at her own foolishness.

‘Well open it’! Choden almost shouted with excitement.

Dechen looked from one face to the other seeing the curiosity in their eyes.

She smiled shyly and slipped the envelope in her pocket. ‘If you don’t mind’ she said respectfully  ‘I’ll go home now. Thank you for the tea’ She bowed to her friend, but seeing the disappointment in Chodens eyes, relented slightly.

‘Come up in the afternoon for tea and I will read it to you then’.

With that she slipped out the door and ran back up the hill.


The General Post Office in Dublin is a beautiful building. taking just three years to build, it opened in jan 1818. It was of coursed badly damaged in the 1916 uprising and was rebuilt later by the free state.

I love the calm marbled and bronze interior of it.

If I have a letter to post, it is where I go. There is something very time worthy and dignified, in this digital age, of buying a stamp and then taking it over to one of the mahogany tables and carefully writing the address on an envelope, sticking on a stamp and posting it in one of the bronze letter boxes.

One day I was in the process of doing this when I was approached by a tall young man.

He looked about twenty and of asian origin.

He apologised for disturbing me. ‘Can you help me please?’ he asked respectfully in broken english.

I put down my pen from where I had finished writing the name and address and looked at the envelope he was proffering to me.

On the top left hand corner were four lines of what looked to me like chinese writing.

On the opposite side were four Irish stamps stuck neatly, two above the other. A basking shark, a blue snail, an otter and a swan.

‘An expensive letter’. I joked, seeing the sixty eight cent mark on each stamp.

He frowned ‘I don’t understand you’

I smiled and said ‘Your letter!  it must be going somewhere far away?’.

His face cleared as he returned my smile ‘Yes’ he said proudly ‘It is going to my mother. she lives in Gantog in tibet’

His english was stilted as if he had learnt off this sentence.

‘But’ he repeated ‘Can you please help? my english writing? no good! I need to write her address here’ He pointed to the space ‘I will tell you it and please can you write it on the envelope!’.

‘Of course’ I said and over the next fifteen minutes we laughed as he tried to pronounce the letters in english and I tried to make them out and write them as neatly as his tibetan writing up in the corner.

And while writing and talking, he introduced himself as ‘Tenzin’, he told me of the job he had got washing dishes in the mongolian restaurant in temple bar, how he had hoped to improve his english over here and yes of course he missed his mother very very much.

‘And your father’? I enquired

‘Dead’ he said shortly.

I didn’t enquire how or why but he continued and said he hoped to be able to send money home to his mother but it was expensive here.

At last we finished and together posted our letters into the bronze post box. Mine to the UK where my daughter and her husband and my three grandchildren were living and his, to some mountainous region of tibet, where his mother would be waiting anxiously for his letter to arrived.

And when it did, she would, no doubt, read it again and again and again.

The end.