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History’s Gem
update:April 16,2018

In Khesum, there are about 100 elderly villagers who lived through that period. All of them had been serfs. The dark pages of history have turned, but they should never be forgotten, the elderly villagers said.

Sonam Dondrup, 75, was a serf until the age of 16, and his memories of the old days haven’t faded.

“I got up before sunrise to work in the fields,” he said. “I could never be late. If I was late, I would be whipped.”

He recalls a crucial moment: “After the landowners ran away, no one had any idea what the future would bring. It was not until my family burned their land contract and debt papers that the idea of liberation finally sank in,” he said.

Sonam Dondrup now lives in peaceful retirement. Every morning, he takes his great-grandson to kindergarten and then goes to the nearby Changzhu Monastery to pray.

April 16, 2018 -- Sonam Dondrup waters pot flowers in his house at Khesum village in Lhokha city, Tibet autonomous region. Yu Gang/Xinhua

Penpa Tsering, the Party secretary of the village, said Khesum is one of the most developed villages under the jurisdiction of Changzhu Township in Lhokha city.

It has 55 students in the local kindergarten and school. More than half the families have cars. Per capita annual income in 2017 was around 17,000 yuan ($2,700). No one lives under the poverty line.

Past, not forgotten

In Khesum 59 years ago, a hungry, barefoot man stole a plate of dog food. When the theft was discovered by a steward, the man received a whipping.
Such scenes were part of everyday life at that time. Now they only exist on stage. Actor Tsewang Lodro, 37, plays Trilai, the hungry serf, in a one-hour play, The Tears of Serfs, which was presented recently.

“I’ve spent a lot of time rehearsing this month. It satisfies me that my acting makes the audience cry at the destruction and despair, and laugh at the ridiculous and funny,” Tsewang Lodro said.

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