Story Time - A twist in hmong fairy tales

iammoua's picture

Long, long ago, in a small village, lived a young talented man named Nuj Nphlaib. He was an astounding archer and well known for many of his musical talents. The village men would always invite Nuj Nplhaib on hunting trips, while the girls love to hais kwv txhiaj and tshuab nplooj with him. When there are funerals, people would come and seek Nuj Nphlaib to help tshuab qeej.

In a nearby village, the governor was hosting a marriage competition for his daughter, Ntxawm. The competition consisted of two parts: a talent show and a friendly brawl. Since it has been rumored that Ntxawm was very beautiful and talented in embroidery, Nuj Nphlaib decided to go join. Upon hearing the news, Tsov, a magical tiger, transformed himself into a human and also attended.

While many fought for Ntxawm’s attention, the only two she was interested in was Nuj Nplhaib and Tsov. They were both tall and handsome; Tsov had that mysterious, bad boy edge to him, but Nuj Nplhaib was the type of guy your parents will love and always ask about. Therefore she had decided that she would choose him. However, the night before the announcement, Tsov decided to wifenap Ntxawm.

On the journey to the tiger’s lair, Tsov and his pack of poj ntxoog set many dangerous traps and spells for Nuj Nplhaib. Tsov has also left behind a small group to ambush and kill him. Feeling bad for Nuj Nphlaib, Ntxawm begged Tsov to not kill him. She promised to go obediently with Tsov and leave a letter for Nuj Nphlaib to stop pursuing her. Tsov had reluctantly agreed, and ordered a small party to stay behind and pass the message.

Determined to rescue and win her hand in marriage, Nuj Nphlaib quickly gather some supplies and set out after them. On his way, he had triggered a spell and fell into a deep sleep. By the time he woke up, he had realized a whole day's journey already passed by. Feeling a bit discouraged, Nuj Nplhaib decided to set up a small camp and sharpen his weapons.

While fetching water from a nearby stream, he sees a young woman bathing while a smalls group of little girls ran around the shore. Upon closer observation, Nuj Nplhaib then realizes that the girls are actually poj ntxoog. He wasn’t sure if the woman knew she was surrounded or not, therefore he took out an arrow he shot at the group of poj ntxoog. Seeing one of the poj ntxoog drop dead, the young woman screamed. She hurriedly got out of the water and started running with the poj ntxoog behind her.

Fearing for the young woman's life, Nuj Nplhaim chases after them. He quickly takes out another arrow, shoots, and automatically kills another poj ntxoog or two. The young woman then stops and cries, asking him why he killed her sisters. Nuj Nphlaib then realizes that the young woman is actually wild person, living among the poj ntxoog community. Pitying her, he decided to take her along and vows to help her become fully human again. Because she doesn’t remember her name or where she comes from, Nuj Nphlaib decides to named her Mai.

On their journey, Nuj Nphlaib tries to educate the Mai and teach her how to properly prepare meals. He soon got side tracked about rescuing Ntxawm and was more interested in modernizing the young women. Mai eventually grew attached to Nuj Nphlaib's kindness and started to develop feelings for him. When Mai asks him about what she was feeling, he suddenly remembers that he has to save Ntxawm. He told her he will explain her later but for the time being they have to go rescue Ntxawm. Mai, not fully understanding the situation, blindly goes along.

A few times, Nuj Nphlaib has had to piggy back Mai because she falling behind. Feeling frustrated Mai, has asked Nuj Nplhaib to leave her behind numerous times. Finally one day, he had decided that he was going to leave her behind. He made a small, sturdy shelter for Mai and promised he'd come back for her. Mai stayed by herself during the day, and started to worry about Nuj Nphlaib by the time night fell. She suddenly recalled how dangerous some of the traps are and how vicious the tigers can be. Therefore she decided to follow Nuj Nphlaib.

Rushing to find Ntxawm, Nuj Nphlaib had set off numerous of traps and had to fight off a group of poj ntxoog and tigers. Seeing that Nuj Nphlaib was outnumbered, Mai jumps in, attempt to stop the killing; instead she was a distraction. A tiger saw this as an opportunity to sneak attack Nuj Nphlaib, wounding him. The poj ntxooj then pushes Mai away and continues to attack Nuj Nphlaib. Taking out his magical sword, Nuj Nphlaib mercilessly kills his enemy.

Nuj Nphlaib soon faints from blood loss and exhaustion, while Mai quickly wraps up his wounds and collected herbs to heal him. When Nuj Nplhaib woke up, he was very upset with Mai. He told her she should have stayed at the shelter. Mai states that she couldn't bare him facing danger and begs him to go back with her. Nuj Nphlaib declined and apologized, saying that he couldn’t accept her feelings. In this life time, he could only see himself with Ntxawm. Leaving Mai heartbroken, Nuj Nphlaib continues to head toward Tsov’s lair.

As the story goes, Nuj Nplhaib ends up saving Ntxawm and marries her. Whether he went back to look for Mai to fulfill his promise, was unclear. As for Mai’s where about, she seemed to have disappear. In the end, it didn't matter; Mai was only a support character.