Okay I'm really getting into this so let's move on to numbers 3 and 2 so we can get to number one quickly. To be honest, I don't really feel like writing about the next two now but in my haste and excitement to get to number 1 (I can't wait to do this!!), might as well do these now and try to keep it as short as possible (which I'll probably forget to do as soon as I start because keeping things short is not my forte), but I really want to reserve my energy for number 1. Anyway, here comes tres and dos...
3. Tlingi leh Ngama
Another love story but this one is super cute because it's got a talking cat! It also has the hero traveling to the land of the dead, and I like all underworld related stories.
Tlingi and Ngama were a loving and happy couple until Tlingi suddenly got sick and died. The bereaved Ngama would keep flowers at her grave every day but they'd disappear the next morning. So one night the infuriated Ngama decided to hide near his wife's grave and catch the thief. He waited all night, and finally a little before dawn, he heard some movement from the bushes and out came a little cat. This cat daintily (they never told me how this cat walked, but in my mind it always takes confident, dainty little steps) walked up to the grave, grabbed all the flowers that Ngama had placed there that day and started to walk back towards where it came from.
Ngama then pounced on the cat and asked it where it came from and why it was stealing all the flowers meant for his wife. After he threatened to pound it with some good Karate chops, the cat finally admitted to being a messenger from the land of the dead and that he was taking the flowers upon Tlingi's own request.
Ngama convinced the cat to take him to the land of the dead, and this weird journey involved a long trek along tiny winding roads and walking through cracks in rocks which looked like tiny slivers but would magically accommodate Ngama's size when they passed through them.
When they finally got to the land of the dead, Ngama and Tlingi were happily reunited but things began to get crazy when they tried to resume living together as normal. Ngama was invited for bear hunting and fishing, and while he expected a real bear and real fishes, the bear turned out to be a big furry caterpillar, and what they called fishes were only dead bamboo leaves floating on the water.
In fact, Ngama became quite the hero. It was very difficult for the dead people to catch fishes because the leaves behaved like fishes with them..gliding away when they reached for them but for the living Ngama, they were like what dead leaves floating on the water are like, and he easily scooped up heaps of them. And he valiantly squashed their much feared bear caterpillar.
But when the hunt was over and they were all heading home, the dead all turned into fireflies and Ngama was left alone in the forest in the dark to find his own way home. This part is hazy, but I think there's another part where they turned into something else but I can't remember :( (was it frogs and they all hopped home without him?)
And when it was time to sleep and Ngama and Tlingi went to bed, Tlingi slept the dead village way - with her head towards the foot of the bed with her feet on the pillow (this for some reason to me is SCARY AS CRAP!), while Ngama slept the living way with his head on the pillow.
I think there were more weird stuff but I can't remember. Anyway, in the end, because they were just too different, they agreed that Ngama should go back to the land of the living and wait there till it was time for him to die and join Tlingi there. Tlingi summoned the cat who took Ngama back to his human village, where he pined away for Tlingi and soon joined her in the land of the dead and they died happily ever after! :P
Now isn't this the perfect stuff for a good fantasy movie? Maybe the Japanese can make one of their great fantasy anime movie on this :)
2. Local Real Life Experiences (supposedly)
The best stories are always those that you hear from real people, telling of real things that happened to them (or to someone they know, or someone who knew someone they know :) But I don't mean just the general corner shop ghost story types that any 'tlangval leng rei' can come up with. The stories I have in mind are the types told by old men and women, with wrinkly skins and white hair and the wisdom of the years - you know what I mean.
Just as an example, I'll share two of such stories I can come up with off the top of my head. First one, when we were little kids, my dad had this friend who he used to go hunting with regularly. He was a very tall guy with a perpetually paan-stained teeth, he had a rifle and he would bring it to our house, oil it, polish it...the macho type who like to talk about how nothing scares him etc etc. He used to scare me a little but when he told stories...the man was a magnet. Anyway, I can't forget this story he told once, not even to me but to my father and a bunch of their other friends. I was just lurking around to listen and the story according to him was this -
One day he went to the forest to hunt on his own. He decided to construct a 'machan' - a temporary loft/shelter type thingy on a tree and wait there all night for any unsuspecting animal to come by. The night was unnaturally quiet, and he didn't hear any of the usual forest night sounds and he thought that was a little strange but he kept on waiting anyway.
And finally I think he said it was almost around 3 AM that a deer suddenly popped out of the bushes below him. He watched it as it calmly approached the tree he was sitting on and stood there not moving any further, so he took aim...and then just when he was about to pull the trigger, the deer suddenly looked up and started laughing in a clear woman's voice. Very high-pitched, pealing laughter that resounded on the hills around him.
He admitted to being so spooked that all his hair stood on end. He forgot all about hunting and sat there all night, the deer disappeared back into the bushes, and at first light he climbed down and hurried home.
Now I don't know if this really happened to him, or if he made it up just to impress his friends or just repeating something he heard somewhere - but wow, what a story, right?
Okay..getting a bit lengthier than I intended but I can't leave this second one out -
This was told to me by my mom who heard it from her very old grandmother. So my mom's grandma when she was a young lady used to go to their farm in the forest with her mentally unsound sister. Her sister walked with a slight limp and would slow her down so my great grandmother :) used to walk ahead. Her sister would lag behind and reach their farm later on her own. And because they do it every day and used to it the older sister never really worried about her.
One day they were going to the farm and as usual the younger one was falling behind. There was a little stream that they had to walk across everyday but that day it had swelled up a little because of heavy rain the night before. The older one crossed the stream and walked on ahead but after a while became a bit concerned about her sister crossing the stream alone because of it being flooded and her sister's condition so she decided to turn back.
There was a bend in the path from where she could see the stream from a distance, and as she looked she saw a large woman - very tall, dark, long shaggy black hair, naked with breasts hanging down to her navel carrying her sister in her arms and walking across the stream with her. She watched as she put her down gently when they got to the other side, and she then went back to the stream and disappeared among the rocks and boulders.
I should add that my great grandmother was already very, very old when she told my mom this story. Which means when she was a young woman, it was way before the British and the Gospel, when we were still praying to tree trunks and sacrificing animals to random spirits.
And this woman who carried her sister - doesn't she remind you of the Chawmnu? The friendly female spirit that dwells on the banks of rivers and streams and creeks that we used to study about in high school? She was mentioned in the spirits chapter, but I don't remember much because I was always too scared to read about the spirits in depth :(
I grew up loving the forest but I've never had anything interesting happen to me. There was this one time when I was a raggedly little kids, I with a bunch of my equally raggedy friends were wandering around in some wooded area near our house and we found a shed snake skin. I don't know how it all started but we dared one girl to eat it, and she, with all the denseness of a kid, ate it with bravado. She's all grown up now of course, working in Bangalore for a big multinational company, all posh and professional but no matter how polished she is now, to me she'll always be the little girl that ate shed snake skin :-) -- I guess that's the only funny story I have now to tell my kids.
And now there are tons of other such stories bubbling up in my head but it's too late in the night and the post is already too long so let that be it for number 2.
Watch out for my number 1! For once, I'll do a research-based post, and maybe even care enough to use spell check on it. That's how good the story is :-))
Buenos noches all!