When I went to visit my grandmother at her home in the northern Indian city of Chennai in December 2016, she was living alone.
A small group of us gathered around her tea-table, and she said: “You should go to our place for tea party.”
My grandmother had been living in the same house for a year when she died of cancer.
I had not heard of her before then, and I had been in the UK, where I had just finished a PhD, to study the human rights situation in Tibet.
I knew nothing about her, but I asked her: “Where do you come from?”
My grandmother said: The country where I came from is the same country where my grandfather and father lived.
I did not know why, but she said to me: “My grandfather and my father were born in the middle of the Tibetan plateau.
They lived for a very long time in this valley.
They had very little money and were very poor.”
It was a statement of the past.
There was no longer any Tibetan people left in the area, and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of Tibet was ruled by the Chinese government.
It is the last place that my grandmother lived.
She died in the summer of 2018.
A couple of years later, I visited her grave.
It was a big wooden grave with a big, red flag on the side.
It had been there for a long time.
It looked a bit like a grave.
I said to my grandmother: “What’s wrong with this flag?
What is wrong with your flag?”
She said: We are not Tibetan, and you can’t ask us to make a flag of the Dalai Lama.
“My grandparents and I thought: ‘Why do you think that we have to do this?
We have nothing to do with Tibet, you can see it.’
She died three days after that.
My grandfather was very religious.
He said: If someone dies here, they must be the Dalai Lamas, or the reincarnation of them.
But he didn’t say that my grandfather was reincarnated, that he was a reincarnation.
He was a Tibetan person, so why was it important to him?
My grandfather died because of my grandfather.
He died for me.