After we I had lost my father in 1987 and throughout elementary and middle school I became a sort of white sheep of every situation: I was the child that never gets in trouble or walk outside the lines, a good student, terrified of making adults angry or disappointed. I put on the diligent child mask to compensate for the loss in the family and to help my mother feel better.
Life was methodical and rigid, but I could take a break from the usual habits during summers, that I would spend at my auntie’s house. Without school and homework, I had a lot of time to play, but I often reached out for more books and readings. When the others were busy, I would hop to her bookshelf and gaze at the different books.
Two of them, in particular, had attracted my attention over the years but I never asked for them, somehow I felt like I was not allowed to. Those books by Asian writers looked too exotic for a little girl, but I knew I had to access them, sooner or later, to satisfy my curiosity and thirst for mystery.
I took them home with me and started reading them secretly. One of those is “The Third Eye” by Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, a Tibetan author. The cover art of the book represented two eyes and a third one in the middle of them.
I was probably 12 when I started reading it. Page after page I realized it was the most interesting thing I’d ever read. The story recounted the life of the author from early childhood through his harsh but rewarding training as a monk since he was forced to leave the country after the Chinese invasion of Tibet.
The narration of Tibetan traditions, occult religious practices, characters of extraordinary mental and physical skills, cosmology, and mountain landscapes, affected my imagination. I started daydreaming about travels to Asia, collected books about Tibet and images of remote destinations from paper magazines.
When I finished high school, it seemed a good idea to get a University degree. I pondered on how that could take me closer to my dreams and looked for information about contemporary Tibet. Tibet had lost its independence in 1950 to the Peopl’s Republic of China.
I enrolled in the course of Oriental Languages and Civilisations at a university in Italy and waited. After graduation, I moved to China, and in June 2014, almost 20 years since I had come across that book, I booked a flight from Xiamen to Lhasa, reached Tibet and felt like the luckiest person in the world for two weeks.
I still don’t know if it was the place that made me so happy or I was feeling so high because I finally made it, after I had dreamt about it for ages.
I could feel the joy free-flowing from my heart.