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Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: August 02, 2011, 06:34:55 PM »
"Where are you?" the witch asked as she broke into the two Ntxawm's families thatch. "Granny is here for the feast as you have invited."

There was no response, no sound from anywhere or anyone.  But soon she heard nervous, shaking noises from behind the family kiln. She walked over to the area and saw a big toe sticking out from an tipped over wok.

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: August 02, 2011, 04:46:42 PM »
Saul, French Guiana--A black French student looked at my camcorder through the torn-down wooden door and screamed in French.  He seemed frightened to death and almost in tears.

His female black French teacher came out and looked at me intensely.

She didn't look as frightening as what she was going to tell me next:  "You cannot do that," she yelled in French (and in translation).

I looked around if passersby might overhear me being scolded at.

"Really?" I asked back in French, trying to sound brave but almost with a trembling voice. "I didn't know that."

"Yes, you do."

"All right. I cease."


Whatever French laws may have been involved, I was not sure. Guiana was a French colony and so the teacher must have taken me to have come from mainland France.  

I just remained quiet and was no longer taking any video of Saul's 5-building downtown.

But I kept walking around in the area and over the slippery mud under the drizzles, wondering where the Hmong houses were.  Cacao's residents had told me before I flew out that there was a 30-minute walk from the airport to the Hmong houses. But the other six passengers and I took the pickup truck from the airport. Yet there was no Hmong house to be found.

Suddenly, a young Hmong lady walked by under her striped umbrella. Red and blue with a silver handle on her right hand.

"You've come to visit?" she asked. "Where did you come from?"

"Yes. From the U.S. You live here? Where are the Hmong houses? I am looking for a man named VL."

"Oh, him? They live on the other side of the hill. But their children are in the school. Let me see. I can tell them to come get you after school. They can take you with them.  I'll tell the teacher about that, too. They are done in about thirty minutes."

I hesitated to let her approach that black French teacher.  "Maybe I can just wait here. It's only thirty minutes of waiting. You don't need to talk to them. I..."

She went right into the school without fear and spoke French to the teacher. Apparently, the teacher did not say anything, either about me or about the Hmong lady's storming into the classroom while it was in session.

The toddlers were summoned to the door. The Hmong lady turned and pointed at me in the rain. The kids looked at me. I heard "nawb...nawb..." And then the kids responded in unison in their high-pitched child voices with "aws."

The Hmong lady invited me to her house to wait for the children.  Her husband--a big black French--was Saul's mayor!!

After school, three toddlers came out and became my tour guides up the hill!!

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: July 31, 2011, 10:17:47 PM »
Write more! ;D I enjoy reading your stories  :) :) :)

Sure. Just give me times. I will write up whatever interesting personal experiences I come across. Plus, some folktales, yes.

Feel free to share yours, too. We'd love that.

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: July 31, 2011, 07:40:31 PM »
Wow!  That's a lot of questions, Reporter.

Truthfully, I don't know the answers to your questions.  My parents were one of those early converters but not one of the very first.  I think there was a conference some years ago where the very first Hmong Christian converter was introduced (or so I believe – I mean I can't exactly recalled if he's still alive or had passed away).

As far as what "frightened" them to convert...I don't think it was anything "frightful".  It was more of having a Savior.  Even none-Christians need to "save" their own soul (plig); hence, the tua qab, tuab npua theej txhoj ceremony so the Shaman can bring back a "trap" spirit.  Am I right?

And as for the story, I would very much appreciate all of the details if you don't mind or have time. :)

Is your family Catholic or Protestant? There were different conversion stories for these groups. The Catholics converted simply because their leaders back in the 1950s just liked the Bible's story of Adam and Eve better than the Hmong's story of Nkauj Iab and Nraug Oo. That's according to Zam Nob Yaj, one of the first converters under Yves Bertrais (Txiv Plig Nyiaj Pov).  (I have video to prove of his words, by the way.)

Ntxawm Hlob and Ntxawm Yau lived on a remote hill surrounded by primitive farms and wooden and bamboo thatches and barns.  Society was no different than elsewhere at that time. It's one of those once upon a time folktales, although they didn't know that it was.

Upon reaching the witch's thatch, the witch asked what and whom the two siblings were looking for.  "Our granny," they replied.  "Oh, then I am your granny," the witch replied.  

"But our mom said our granny has a big mole on her face," they demanded.

The witch turned aside, magically planted a mole on her face with a sticky black rice, and turned back. "See here? I have a mole on my face," she said.

Whatever they claimed their grandmother had, the witch was able to glue up something to resemble it.  All the while, Ntxawm Hlob was entirely and enthusiastical ly convinced, while Ntxawm Yau was skeptical throughout.

"It has been too long," she told them after preparing them to go back home.  "I want you to take these grey ashes  and sprinkle them on the way home, so that I can find the road to your village...agai n," she added.

Each with some ashes in her sashes, the two sisters sprinkled them here and there on the way back home.  But Ntxawm Yau refused to continue doing that when they were about to cross a river.  She dumped her ashes on the river, washed off her hands and her sash and no longer sprinkled any more ash for the rest of the trip. But Ntxawm Hlob was obedient and slower, so she kept it up all the way to the edge of the village.

The villagers were alarmed upon hearing of their encounter. They knew the witch did not want to eat up just two persons. That was why she had not killed off the two sisters right at her place. The witch wanted more.  

The feast abandoned, everyone also abandoned the village and ran wild in their own directions. They knew the witch would come for them. And soon, too.

The knowing elders demanded to leave the two siblings in the village.  Then the witch would not think there were more people to hunt for. Ntxawm Hlob and Ntxawm Yau's parents agreed and fled the village elsewhere without them.

No ash sprinkle in order to leave no trace. Everyone left like the wind!

Ntxawm Hlob was covered up on a tipped over wok, while Ntxawm Yau was kept covered by some sacks in their family's thatch.

The witch followed the ash trails to the village. She looked like a dried up lower pig jaw as she walked from the woodlands and hills towards the village, struggling to balance herself side-to-side.

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: July 28, 2011, 07:08:06 PM »
I could vaguely remember that folktale story, Reporter.  Can you share the story all the way to the very end?  :)  LOLz.  And do share other Hmong folktale stories, if you have any.  >:D

And nroj pawm tshis isn't bad; according to my mom, it's good for medicinal use., I don't ask my parents much about those.  This isn't to say I don't care about my family history.  Besides, I don't think my parents or their neighbors really believed in anything evil, as the village was filled with mostly Christians.  According to my mom, there was even a church for the Christians to worship God.  And yes, my parents were one of those early Christian converters.  :)

I am curious to know how the first Hmong converted to Christianity. When? Where? Why? What really prompted them to do so? What was it about the dead boy's body on the rock that may have frightened them into abandoning their century-old traditions? Tell me what you know. I am just curious.

That folktale? Well, you want details or you want just the gist of it? And I do have a lot of others I could share. Soon.

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: July 27, 2011, 05:53:56 PM »
So, really?  Black dirts are cursed with evil?  I have never heard of that either.  All I heard was, black dirts txhaj le zoo qoob loo.  But I have heard that before Hmong people build a house, they take three rice (peb lub noob nplej), dig up a hole, throw the rice in, and chant that if the area is suitable for the house (no evil spirits, etc.), then for the rice to sprout in three days.  In three days time, they will return and if the rice sprouted, then they will build their house but if the rice have not sprouted, then they don’t b/c it means evil spirits roam the area or something to that nature.

And I don't know what my parents or their neighbors believed about the cause of infant/toddler deaths in that village.  But they did say the air/atmosphere in that village was very dense/congested, hot/humid, and not suitable for small children.  

The elders often built thatches with that kind of ritual. Feng Shui? Not sure. Some have tried to read the valleys into it, too. But I don't know how that's done. I have yet a lot more stuff to read about or study.

Anyway, yes, black dirt is known for evil. Remember the folktale about the two sisters--Ntxawm Hlob Ntxawm Yau? They were out to summon an old granny to come help their family with a feast and the spiritual ceremony it required. Because it had been a long time since their parents last visited their grandma and the roads had grown shrubs on the side and been much covered up with weeds, their mother gave them two clues on how to find the right path to their grandma's thatch. Neither had been to granny's at all anyway.  "Aav luaj dlub yog nam taig puj dlaab; aav luaj dlaag txham le yog nam taig puj sis hlub," she warned them.  (Pardon the nam taig designation and spelling here.)  After a long trip, they came upon a forked road. They argued about what their mother had told them. "Mom said it's the yellow path for loving grandma," said Ntxawm Me, the younger sister.  "No, no, she said it's the black road for loving grandma," argued the older sister, Ntxawm Hlob.  In Hmong, black rhymes with the word love, while yellow does not.  The older sister insisted that the rhyme made it clear she was right. And, being a younger sister in the sibling and family hierarchy, the younger sister complied.  So, the two took the black dirt path. They came upon a witch who disguised as their grandma.

A plateau near the town of Phabkheb in Laos, just across the valleys from Mount Phu Chong and across the road that led to Long Cheng on the northeast and to Vientiene to the southwest, held a small black dirt village.  The leader of that village at first read the mountains to signify a position of leadership. His family settled there. He made his sons-in-law join him there, too.  I'm not sure if they did the rice ceremony or even an egg spiritual performance before building the thatches and a mansion on the plateau.  There were many bad signs when the thatches were being built. A pig refused to go up the plateau when first beaten to go there, for example. A wild bird just flew right into one of the thatches from one door and out the other--unusual for places like that at that time.  Elders normally took those to be bad omens.  But the new dwellers did not pay much attention to them. After three families had finished their thatches, they found a few old graves down the hill. Those were old Hmong graves, according to them. But no one knew why they were there. What was clear was that another group of Hmong had already abandoned the location.  Now, as time went by for the next three years, young kids kept dying in this new village. All ended up being buried at the same grave site as the old graves. But not just young children; adults, too, were dying left and right.  The leader of this village lost two wives. One of the other families lost their oldest daughter. Another man lost his only wife, too.  A respected shaman just over a nearby hill on a yellow dirt town now told them that the black dirt was not suitable.  The men at that black dirt village said they thought it was just in stories.  But apparently not so.  So, they began evacuating the area, but then it was already time to flee Laos, so they abandoned the village for Thailand instead.  

Black dirt combined with a soil-level, flat grass that has tiny white tubers resembling yams but only pencil-sized, and a shrub named nroj pwm tshis isn't good. That's what the village had, according to one of their elders.

I usually ask my parents what our villages were like. Don't you ask about yours or your family's old village? Then you might know the cause that killed those infants.

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: July 27, 2011, 03:19:41 PM »
Reporter, do you really believe that the childless couple’s spirits came and took those infants/toddlers away?  Could there be the air/atmosphere or some other causes? 

My family used to live in a small village where lots of infants and toddlers died, too (but not Nam Yao).  Only those kids were get very sick for a very short amount of time (in a matter of days) and then died.  My parents lost a son in that village. 

I'm not sure, Fuchsia. I'm just telling everyone what I was told. To a certain extent, I agree with you that the atmosphere has a lot to do with it. Spirits are blamed for most Hmong ailments. Blue Dirt Village's just happened to be one of the cases. 

Hmong folktales have told of black dirts being evil-related.  And real life situations have proven that in a few cases, too. But blue dirt? That's rare. And when the shamans have said over and over again that Blue Dirt Village had the deceased couple involved, the villagers just had to believe that. After all, who else would have had better investigations into it back then? (We are talking about the 1970s in a remote and backward jungled-in location.)

What did your parents and their neighbors believe was the cause in their village?

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: July 27, 2011, 12:44:22 AM »
Blue Dirt Village--Nam Yao, Laos--Next to this village is another one named Red Dirt Village.

Infants and toddlers do not survive for long here. They need to be moved to Red Dirt or elsewhere. Otherwise, funeral drums and mourning kick in at any time--sometimes even multiple funerals.

The inveterate villagers have shamanized all four corners of the village as well as in the middle and in circles rippling out towards the edges of the village. Yet nothing could stop the silent deaths of infants and toddlers.  Yes, the cause is known: a childless couple had died there, and so they have wanted all of the children in their homes to make up for what they never had while alive. But no one has been able to exorcise them out of the village.

Good thing my family stayed there for only 23 days when I was somewhere between my infancy and toddler-hood.

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: July 26, 2011, 11:08:03 PM »
Cacao, French Guiana--Children feel the safest here. There's no threats of any kind. At most, they may have to watch over some street puddles or holes since the town's streets are so torn and yet unrepaired that even farm mini-pickup tires are known to feel bumpy over them. But the children can run wild and free here early in the the day and late into the night each day. Children conversations and noises are heard as late as midnight here as they are at play with one another around the entire town of about 700.  No one needs to tell them to go to sleep. Nor do they feel the need to. It is only when sleep has climbed up on them that the Cacao Hmong children finally part one another for their neighboring homes.

Such was the night when I arrived from the French colony's capitol, Cayenne, one Christmas evening.  As the taxi got to town, the sun had already gone down with darkness covering the jungles and land all over.  My naked eyes could no longer see any object outside.  The black taxi driver had turned on the car's beams. Well, he had done that awhile back on the road from the airport.  As we struggled through some puddles towards a group of houses, a house still had its lights on with people having dinner and talk. Outside its door and right by the street was a toddler girl. Just standing around and looking at us.  I reached my head out the car's windown and I asked in Hmong if she knew of a certain person I only had the name to. She said she did. And, so, she became my tourist! I asked the taxi driver to allow her in the car as she directed him towards another end of Cacao for the person whose name I had. And once there, the girl said she would just run home without a ride back in the taxi. Having just arrived there from America, I felt unease but then realized I was no longer in St. Paul, MN. So, I just said, "Ua tsaug. Mus koj nawb."


have written over 100 pages of my story life... With bibliographies as well.. Also have added and credited a few Pher's wise words and encouragements ... Its kinda like a journal/story or whatever you call it.. Cant find a good publisher accept for the ones in New York and Chicago...

Any tips?

You should show us some of your writings first so that we can suggest who the appropriate publishers are. There are many out there but we can't direct you to business publishers when you story might not be business-related, etc.

Two Wheel Forum / Re: Honda took it this year!
« on: July 25, 2011, 12:53:14 AM »
 O0 O0

Online Journal / Re: "we'll always have Omaha..."
« on: July 23, 2011, 08:43:26 PM »
Omaha rhymes with Nebraska
And Obama, plus Osama,
Without doubt, and Alaska,
As well as Canada,
And all over the tundras.

Hmong Stories / Re: Hmong ghost stories
« on: July 23, 2011, 05:47:11 PM »
Another story.  This one is about my other sister Lia...and me.

About a year and a half ago, I was still living in a one bedroom apartment.  Lia started college and came to live with me.  Since we couldn't afford to move out to a 2 bedroom at the time, we shared my small room and we had 2 beds in it.  My bed is at the farthest left, hers is at the farthest right.  In between us is a window. 

One morning in early October, it was around 6 AM, Lia woke me up.  I got up and asked her what's wrong.  She looked terrified and told me to turn on the lights, so I did.  She told me that when she awoke a few minutes ago she tried to fall back asleep so she turned her body towards me (notice:my back was facing her), she tilted her head to the window and closed her eyes.  Then all of a sudden she couldn't move.  She struggled to open her eyes and when she got them opened she saw a lady in white with long white hair and glowing eyes near the foot of my bed (where my feet were positioned).  When the lady saw my sister looking at her, she got in a crouch like position.  With her long fingers in a claw-like position at the front of her chest, she came towards Lia.  Lia panicked and immediately closed her eyes.  When she opened them again, the lady was gone and her head was still tilted towards the window instead of at the foot of my bed. 

In my previous story, I mentioned the shadow that followed my sister May. I'm really starting to think that it might be the same "ghost".

 :2funny: :2funny:

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: July 21, 2011, 11:40:30 PM »
But if I can't even write about my personal imagination, what good is a personal journal? It just won't do.

Online Journal / Re: Share your journals
« on: July 21, 2011, 02:00:05 AM »
I wonder if a person's imagination is a personal experience. If it is, it would be an appropriate journal topic.

In a way, I think it is. That's because a person's imagination is what the person is experiencing.

But then I'm also not sure because I don't know if an imagination is truly a personal experience in the physical sense that a person normally experiences with his or her senses, e.g. taste, smell, touch, sound, and vision.   It's a making of the mind, not a factual, physical experience.

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