During that time our horses seemed to go mad, one by one. When webrought them water, they raced for it and then began rolling about init. They could neither eat nor drink. Their necks stiffened, and finallythey could not even walk. All thirteen of them died. It was such adisgrace to the family and a great loss, for horses were money. Afterthis there was a famine for three years. We had not a drop of rain, onlyhail, which destroyed all the crops. Everyone was at the point ofstarvation. Families began to migrate until only thirteen households wereleft out of forty-five. My family survived solely because the monasteryof Kumbum supported us and supplied us with food. We lived on lentils,rice, and peas that came from their stores.
Lhamo Dhondup was born early in the morning, before sunrise. To mysurprise, my husband had gotten out of bed and it seemed as if he hadnever been sick. I told him that I had a boy, and he replied that thissurely was no ordinary boy and that we would make him a monk. ChushiRinpoche from Kumbum had passed away, and we hoped that this newbornwould be his reincarnation. We had no more deaths or other strangeincidents or misfortunes after his birth. The rains came, and prosperityreturned, after years of destitution.
Lhamo Dhondup was different from my other children right from the start.He was a somber child who liked to stay indoors by himself. He wasalways packing his clothes and his little belongings. When I asked whathe was doing, he would reply that he was packing to go to Lhasa andwould take all of us with him. When we went to visit friends orrelatives, he never drank tea from any cup but mine. He never let anyoneexcept me touch his blankets and he never placed them anywhere but nextto mine. If he came across a quarrelsome person, he would pick up astick and try to beat him. If ever one of our guests lit up a cigarette,he would flare into a rage. Our friends told us that for someunaccountable reason they were afraid of him, tender in years as he was.This was all when he was over a year old and could hardly talk. One dayhe told us that he had come from heaven....
When Lhamo Dhondup was a little more than two years old, the searchparty for the fourteenth Dalai Lama visited our home in Takster.... Thatevening we were summoned by the party. They were seated on the kang intheir room. In front of them were a bowl of candy, two rosaries, and twodamarus (ritual hand drums). They offered our son the candy bowl, fromwhich he selected one piece and gave it to me. He then went and sat withthem. From a very young age Lhamo Dhondup always sat eye to eye witheveryone, never at anyone's feet, and people told me that I was spoilinghim. He then selected a rosary from the table and a damaru, both ofwhich, it turned out, had belonged to the thirteenth Dalai Lama.