G.Mend-Ooyo
Дэлхий ээж тандаа би хайртай
World Poetry Days in Mongolia
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THE KHAAN’S SECRET

(AND NEGÜÜN  TAIJI,  WHO KEPT IT)

An exceptionally clear night hung over Delüün Boldog, on the river Onon.   Not even the most fleeting of clouds appeared in the sky and the first full moon of summer rose like a silver lantern, rinsing the earth in its silverwhite rays.
   
Negüün Taiji looked out over the surrounding land and gave thought to the skies.  “So, tonight Queen Öülen will give birth,” he said to himself.  Skillfully assisted by the seven sons of Khabul Khaan, he had taken land from the hero Bartan and from Bartan’s four sons, and then the hero Yesükhei had brought the state to heel.  Öülen was the Queen of his younger brother Yesükhei, and Negüün Taiji harbored a wish for her newborn child, but he had given not the slighest hint of this secret to anyone.  Queen len had gone into labor that evening.  As midnight passed, Negüün Taiji grew edgy and he got up, put on his deel and went outside.  The seven stars of the Plough glittered above Delüün Boldog, the waters of the river Onon lapped and babbled and, in keeping his secret hidden, he was hardly able to bear the bawling of the newborn child.
   
For months on end, Mengitü Khaan, Negüün Taiji and Daridai Otchigan had been travelling through many districts, seeking out the woman who would be Yesükhei’s queen, but they had found none that was suitable. From the fairfaced daughters of the clans, they kept their search a closely veiled secret.  One fortunate night on the island of Balj, Negüün Taiji came upon some people from the Olkhonud clan who were holding a celebration, dancing around a great fire in  thickly-wooded grove.  He secretly tied his horse to a tree in an inaccessible place behind a cliff enclosed by dwarf birches, and there in the dark he relaxed, watching the fine girls of Olkhonud by the light of the fire.  There were perhaps seventeen or eighteen of them, they were neither too fat nor too muscular, their short pigtails swayed elegantly, the ellipses of their hazel eyes were as though painted, and his eyes were struck by these lovely women, how they danced, how they leapt like startled deer.
   
That night, Negüün Taiji did not take his eyes from these deer whose dancing and festivities he was watching.  He moved in closer, he was passionate to see them all, and came to sit at the base of another bushy precipice.  The sky was overcast, and as he sat there a gentle rain began to fall.  He honed in on three of the women around the fire, their loud voices, their laughter humming through the night sky.
   
At the bottom of the cliff, Negüün Taiji eased forward even more, he squeezed through a cleft in the rock and saw there that there was one deer among the three was particularly beautiful.  The rain could have stopped falling for all he knew.  And this deer came rushing straight for the cleft in the rock where Negüün Taiji had hidden himself and, since her skirt covered most of his head, he didn’t call out.  And, since the woman had effectively erected a tent over most of his face, he felt that he was unable to move, his entire body having stiffened up. 
   
A stream of pure water sprayed down through the cleft in the rocks, it was the rain and the woman’s waters falling as one.  He raised his eyebrows and opened his eyes just a little, he looked with the stealth of a thief, his vision became blurred and he started back, but she didn’t notice it at all.  And then the deer, we might say, had been milked, she whipped her skirt even his face and went off with her companions their laughter soughing with the birch leaves and ringing with the rocks of the cliff. What just happened? thought Negüün Taiji, What was it I saw, flashing in the corner of my eyes?  His mind rocked a little between faith and doubt and, for a while, he was full of wonder.  He never told a soul about this and people nowadays are loathe to reveal what happened.  Right up until midnight the Olkhonud danced, until their knees scraped the earth, until the earth to the sides was worn away.  And then they went off, each to their own ger, which meant that the deer too had certainly entered her tent through the cloth tent.  For many nights after this, Negüün Taiji secretly pursued the Olkhonud clan.  He saw how Chiledü, a fine son of scholasticism, would ride out with them and, out of the corner of his eye, Negüün Taiji unashamedly set himself to observe the deer of the Olkhonud.
   
One day, as the autumn clouds skulked through the sky, as a white mist crept over the mountains, Yesükhei was returning from hunting birds on the island of Balj.  He engineered it so that he galloped his horse, whose color was of flaxen reeds, across the Olkhonud’s summer pastures.  Coming towards him along the straight road was a cart, bearing a large cloth tent of variegated blues, led by the scholarly Chiledü, whose demeanor was exeedingly happy.  As they passed each other, the two men exchanged greetings and, as the wind briefly lifted the doors of the tent, Yesükhei caught sight of the most beautiful and elegant queen.  As Yesükhei journeyed home over the hills and mountain passes, the face of this lovely queen, and the happy face of Chiledü kept coming into his mind.  Together with his elder brother Negüün Taiji and his younger brother Daridai Otchigan, Yesükhei went after Chiledü. Yesükhei and Daridai Otchigan waited on the far side of a low-lying hill for Negüün Taiji to catch up with them and Negüün Taiji, having seen the queen sitting there in the tent, swore to them that this was certainly the deer of the Olkhunud who, as we might say, had been milked.  He gave the signal to the other two and the three of them chased after Chiledü, and that young man showed his swift horse the whip, and away it fled.  So this was how the hero Yesükhei had taken Öülen as his queen.
   
Beneath the full moon of the fifteenth day, the seven stars of the Plough were white like seven silver pieces and, from time to time during the night, a goose called out, and the royal residence listened quietly for a sound, as though awaiting something.  The royal residence was still as serene as it always had been, and patches of white cirrus clouds floated at the center of the fifteenth day sky.  And, as the red disc of dawn rose upon the sixteenth day, there were a million thought’s occurring to Negüün Taiji, and again and again he looked in upon Queen Öülen, as she suffered the pains of labor in her confinement.
   
When Negüün Taiji met with Queen Öülen, he could feel how her face burnt and, now that he was close by, he peered at the woman with the eyes of a thief, even more than he had when beneath her skirt, and in so doing he felt ashamed.  This woman was now queen to his younger brother Yesükhei and, in giving birth to their child, she was perpetuating the golden lineage.  If only the child would be born, he was thinking.  The queen’s face is so very clear, her belly so broad.  In springtime, it is only through their stubbornness that foals manage to stand….And this night in early spring passed, this night which played in the fires throughout the district of the Olkhonuds, appeared again, so clear, in his eyes.
   
This night did not seem so extraordinary.  There had been a moment when, at the base of the cleft rock, this woman having effectively erected a tent over his head, the darkness under her skirt had seemed to him to radiate light and, now that he lifted his searching gaze once more, he saw in the light that her golden womb had been blessed with a child, one who would perpetuate the golden lineage.  This had been an unsolved mystery up until now, but the more he listened to the words of his grandfather Khabul Khaan, a great ruler is born from the mother with a golden womb, the clearer it became and he remained there day and night.  Before the child gave the slightest hint that it might appear, Öülen was moaning with the pain and, when a small part did emerge, the child’s squawking startled the royal residence.  Negüün Taiji thought to himself, this is definitely a man’s voice, and for a while he saw the ger in which Queen Öülen was in labor was white, as though drenched in white light, which was then absorbed.  And oh, this mother was a golden vessel for the birth of a man, and this man had found the golden vessel of his mother, and, although this only happens once in a single aeon, the child who unlocks his mother’s golden seams and tears through his mother’s golden womb is Temüüjin Chinggis Khaan, the great future Khaan of the Mongols.  The red disc of the sun rises into the blue Mongolian sky on the sixteenth day of summer and only because it is stubborn does the varicolored foal come to be born.  Recognising just how precious was this mother’s golden womb, Negüün Taiji never told anyone his secret and, by storing these things in his heart, they stretched further than the sky.
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