A Reflection in Rhyme

We recently bid goodbye to a dearly loved volunteer, David Wilmot, but not nearly as elegantly as he bid farewell to us! See below some favorite excerpts from a tremendous 12-page poetic epic he left pinned up in the kitchen the night of his departure, accompanied here by a few photos of his as well.



photo by David Wilmot

David with Tenzin Norbu, trying on some costumes before a dance performance.

photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot

A sumo starting upon break of dawn
a long tricky road, not nearly so wide
past summit and stream blasting the horn
over Sela, into Tawang with a jolt and a slide
after seventeen hours tired and forlorn
in darkness Jhamtse Gatsal School is spied
greetings from children arranged in a line
with hugs, love, and affection scarcely so kind


Classes six to eight trip to the nunnery
did bring sweets and nuts in giant sacks
following the climb down and back past the shrubbery
from Tawang, Manpat, Lumla glorious snacks
chocolate bars, candy, gum, and packets of savouries
were shared among all, and eagerly attacked
Monpa and Bollywood, loud and energetic singing
rang through the bus as the light was dimming


Jhamtse’s kitchen garden, seeds to sew
amalas and children weed, water, and dig
beans, tomatoes and cabbage under the hoe
in the nourishing soil from a tiny sprig
in the sun, well nurtured, ripen and grow
fresh cauliflowers succulent and big
picked fresh from the ground, carried to eat
tasty vegetable curry is a lunch time treat


Sunny afternoon, time for a cricket match
a heave over long on flies through the air
the fielder back, a run, a dive, a catch
the players and Madam Yangi loudly cheer
next ball, short and wide, is roundly dispatched
runs and fours to the hero of the hour
when hooked, clattering onto the roof astray
the losing of the ball marks close of play


Dark and rainy, perfect for a movie night
children gather for a superhero action story
baddies, heroes, tangle, tumble, and fight
will the Avengers emerge with honour and glory?
An excited audience watch with delight
explosions, crashes, chases of fury
finale is near, when a buzz, broken HDMI
scuttles forth to the bathroom, all do decry


Sleepy walk for breakfast, good morning, and a hug
greetings as warm and sweet as the milky tea
with roti, dal, together sitting snug
I like the roti better when fried in ghee
talk of last night and lessons, refill my mug
queues for washing dishes, the morning duty
after eating is there time for a shower?
booked by Priyanka, I’ll wait an hour


Four to five elective time, project for history
listen to a radio show about something old
rubber ducks in costumes are a mystery
war chariots richly furnished in gold
mammoth tusk reindeer swimming briskly
describe and interpret the story told
projects on Kings, or culinary traditions
are the subject of the history exhibition


Legends of ancient Japan, Bushido, Samurai
Harley Davidson, iconic American bike
clothes of the world, luxury silk dye
the Second World War, Hitler, the Third Reich
Pharaonic queens, Tutankhamun, Horus’s Eye,
hunting mammoths with stone knapped pikes
colourful posters and models to deliver
if the internet works, and don’t lose scissors


In the morning, soft, curling, white smoke
the Dalai Llama’s birthday, offer a prayer
for Tibetan dances, songs come local folk
hymns of praise, flags, shang for the holy chair
melodic strings, tinkling cymbals to evoke
a love for powerful performers with flair
after Yak Dance, a feast fit for the Savoy
but the pupils’ panoply brought most joy


Nidhi’s “Dholna Rajastani”, not a tango
leaping across the floor, ending in a swirl
Kim and Tsering passing at an angle
while Sonam, Tenzin, and Shanti take a twirl
dressed in saris and glittering bangles
costumes bright, in all colours for the girls
speed of foot and timing did impress
Yeshi says, “a little bit good, yes?”


Led by crashing cymbals and banging drum
a masked dancer opens the Lion Dance
with jaunty stride, fierce teeth, white fur from
beyond, lions strutting, rolling, they stand and glance
joined now by a smaller one, their young
playing, suckling, sleeping in a deep trance
rising for the guests long silks of white
the lions leave showing their power and might


Lobsang’s birthday, outside with cake and candles
tied to a tree – letters, cards, gifts
chocolates, cheese and biscuits, juice is ample
Genla and the teachers try Raju’s lift
the cutting of cake ends in a tangle
smeared having been aerially dished
after dancing and music of all sort
lifting Nidhi becomes the chosen sport


A walk along the ridge to the mani wall
to the stone, where there are prayer flags
a place for a picnic, having a ball
with views of the river, sitting on the crag
you can see Bhutan but not Senegal
while eating treats from the picnic bag
when the eating and playing is done
back up to Jhamtse for more fun


Jhamtses favourite sport is volleyball
to play morning, noon, and night, they like
in the shade of trees, they jump, a blocking wall
but past rising high a winning spike
into the dust between the defenders sprawl
played by all from tallest to smallest tyke
in Lumla leagues, and tournaments compete
with skill, speed, and teamwork rivals they defeat


Evening in the houses, no time for sleep
maths homework to do, finding the number
stories of ghosts, spoken from behind sheets
letters to sponsors, and bracelets of wonder
goodnight hugs and kisses, clambering feet
some are too tired and slip into slumber
in the dark, time for songs, a merry lark
houses of Jhamtse, a refuge, Noah’s ark


Now it comes to goodbye and farewell
a last party, not time to be sad
on happy memories of classes, and parties to dwell
walks, blessings, trips and friendships I’ve had
the Garden of Love and Compassion’s spell
at Jhamtse where everyone is glad
as Genla says on parting when feeling blue
if you don’t go how will I miss you?


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5 Responses to A Reflection in Rhyme

  1. Mark Foley says:

    Wow, that captures the magic. Bravo, David.

  2. Jerry & Gaby says:

    Beautiful, thanks, so looking forward

  3. Vasudha says:

    Oh, this is so beautiful, David!! You have a way with words and you truly capture the essence of Jhamtse!!! I might have to snag the poem…that is, if Sandy hasn’t already beat me to it :D:D:D:D

  4. Sabyasachi says:

    wowww !!!

    All magics captured in a row :)

    lots of love to you all

  5. Pingback: Where it all began | Namaste!

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