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Therefore, in memory of my mother, I would like to share with the reader this episode from her long and eventful life, which also illustrates an interesting moment in Tibetan diplomatic history.
When I was around nine years old my father took me to Dzachukha, the north-eastern limit of our frontier with Chinese-occupied Eastern Tibet. Two of the most powerful Golok chiefs were arriving there from their tribal lands further north and were to be awarded Tibetan government ranks and honours. I remember it all very clearly. The occasion was a welcome break from my normal routine of copying Tibetan alphabets on my wooden writing-board jangshing , day after day, at Derge.
I had started learning my letters a few years before and could now read whole sentences. When I was some years older and my writing had improved I was given the task of making copies of Tibetan government proclamations to circulate around the various dzongs and monasteries in Eastern Tibet.
But at the time of my trip to Dzachukha my father was only governor of Derge and shared administrative responsibilities with his uncle, Thangpon, who was co-governor. My father also commanded the Shigatse regiment. Thangpon commanded the Dhingri regiment. The Gyangtse regiment was under Chapay. I was born just after the Chinese were defeated at Kanze My father and his cousin Khyungram, both dapons generals at the time, had successfully driven out Chinese forces from that area. Both generals were billeted at the home of an important chieftain of Kanze, Adug Lagatsang, and it was there that the Tibetan government courier atrung brought my father a letter from my mother, informing him of my birth in Lhasa city.
Coincidentally, my uncle Khyungram also got a letter from Lhasa announcing the birth of a son to their family. As a military man I am sure my father was disappointed that his first child was a daughter, but he never so much as even hinted about that to me. He was a very thoughtful and kind person. Some of the older servants would sometimes tease me by saying how I had let down the Tethong family on that occasion. We were not only of the same age but also cousins. Some years later when Khyungram was degraded and sent into exile because he had offended the Regent, his son, through no fault of his own, also lost his rank and wealth.