There was a famous hunter, called Damdin the Black, my grandfather. We call my grandfather Ajaa.
When my ajaa comes home, with marmots hanging from his saddle, they swing from side to side as he trots on his piebald horse. My brother and I love to eat marmot meat. Our eyes are attracted to the hanging marmots. Grandpa ajaa goes hunting at sunrise and returns at sunset. Then he drinks millet tea with butter in a big koumiss bowl and drinks all the tea in a 5 liter pot, prepared by Grandma.

During the evening grandma removes the skin from the marmots and spreads them out to dry; the smell of the blood brings in the flies so she makes a smoky fire. While we are waiting for the meat to boil, we look into the pot. To cook the meat takes a long time, and it is finally ready when we are about to go to sleep. Grandma invites us to eat the meat. 

Our grandpa ajaa is resting on a mattress in the male designated part of the ger, which is the northern side. He smells the vodka being made in a neighbours ger, so takes one of the skinned marmots and goes to visit his neighbour. When the heavily drunk grandpa comes home at midnight he is singing a folk song, “Hkuren Tolgoi” with a hoarse voice and saying: “My children, sleep. My dear children! My dear children!”. He is kisses our foreheads and continues saying: “This nagging old woman, your grandmother, she probably shouts at you all day long”.
Then he stumbles against the cupboard next to Grandma’s bed; he is sitting with crossed legs in front of her bed, saying: “Hey, my wife, wake up!” shaking her shoulders.  Grandma is not sleeping but she is lying with her eyes closed and not saying a word, thinking maybe this will not make trouble.  Ajaa asks: “Are you sleeping or are you angry?  You probably are angry with me” he is saying crossly, pursing his lips. Then he looks down and says, “Greedy old woman. I can find an old woman like you anywhere. Old woman Dulmaa, every evening she has vodka. You are always lazy. All my life I have hunted marmots without rest. You could do something for me!” He is weeping. “You could do something for me!”  Then he sings another folk song, ‘Shalzat Baahan Sharga’, looking down in deep thought.  After a short silence, taking a long breath he sings again in a loud voice, “I killed my brother, who was dressed in an antelope skin, it was a mistake”, and he began crying. He is saying: “Can this be true? What a strange world!”

When he is not drunk he does not sing at all, as if he does not know a song, but when he drinks he sings different songs off-key during the whole night. He loves to sing.  Finally, he quietly falls asleep without taking off his clothes.

In the morning Grandma is saying; “Children! Get out of bed. Get out of bed, the sun has already risen”. Grandma’s eyes are swelled, as if she cried during the whole night and in the morning. Grandpa is sitting near the stove, smoking his pipe and listening with patience to Grandma’s nagging, in deep thought.
When the tea is prepared, Grandma gives the tea to Grandpa, he drinks the hot tea quickly. Then taking his gun, he goes out without saying a word.

He is riding on his piebald horse, his yellow dog  follows him. The marmots see him and they cry.

My brother and I quietly watch our Grandpa ride past our ger, silently wishing that he would not drink vodka in the evening when he comes home from hunting...

Ulaanbaatar  1989



Далбаа тоологч

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