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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

An Old Lisu Story (typed version)

I typed up the story Ariel posted on October 6 and thought I would share it. I love seeing all of the posts and pictures!

An Old Lisu Story 9/23/2018

Once there was a family with two parents and two daughters. The parents found a beehive, and they decided to go out this night to burn it. For the Lisu, roasted bee larvae are delicious, so it is common to go out and burn beehives for the larvae.
So the parents set out, but before they left, they told their daughters to watch out in the night for the evil monster. They said the girls shouldn’t open the door for anyone other than the parents, and they had to be absolutely sure it was in fact the parents before they opened. The evil monster can imitate voices, they said, so the girls should look through the door at the hands to make sure it was they. They also told the girls to look out the window for a fire. If they saw a big fire, then they would know the parents had successfully burned the beehive. Otherwise, they would know the parents had been eaten by the monster.
So the night fell, and the parents left. Out the window, the girls could see a small fire. Soon after, there was a knock at the door,
“It’s your parents,” a voice said, “and look. We brought some of the burnt beehive back.”
The girls peeked through the door to see the hand and the beehive.
“My parents’ hands aren’t that hairy,” one girl said.
So the monster went away, ripped all of the hairs out of its arms, and then returned. He showed the beehive through the door again.
“My parents hands aren’t that bloody,” one girl said.
Seeing that this trick was failing, the monster tried a new tactic.
“It’s your Grandma,” the monster said.
The younger daughter was suspicious but the Grandmother forced its way through the door, and, sure enough, the girls saw their Grandma standing before them.
The younger daughter was still suspicious but the older daughter, seeing her grandmother’s form, grew trusting.
“I’m going to sleep in the room with Grandma tonight,” the older one insisted.
And so she did, while the younger daughter slept alone.
In the middle of the night, the younger daughter heard a noise. Chomp, chomp, chomp.
“What are you doing in there, Grandma?” the girl called.
“Oh, nothing,” said the monster. “Just grinding my teeth.” But upon looking up, the girl realized the sister was gone.
They slept. But because the monster had eaten a whole girl, when he woke up, he realized he had to go poo. Still appearing as the Grandma, he asked the little girl if he could go poo. The girl, still suspicious, said that first the Grandma had to unwind one of the mother’s ball of wool.
So while the Grandma was unwinding the wool, the girl ran outside and started climbing a tree. But when she was only halfway up, the grandma finished with the wool and came out.
“What are you doing?” the monster asked.
“Climbing a tree to pick some delicious fruit,” the girls answered.
“I want some fruit too,” said the monster. “How can I climb up?”
The monster/Grandma tried and failed to climb the tree.
“You could stretch our your boobs and use them like rope,” the girl suggested.
So the Grandma tried, but the tree branches were thorny, so it didn’t work.
“You don’t have to climb the tree, Grandma,” the girl said. “I can climb and pick the fruit for you.”
“Okay,” the Grandma agreed.
So the girl climbed and she picked a very sour and unripe papaya. “Open your mouth so I can toss it in,” she called.
So the Grandma opened her mouth, and the girl tossed the fruit in. “Oh no, too sour,” the monster said, wrinkling its nose.
“I can get you the perfect, most delicious fruit,” the girl said, “but I need a tool. Go fetch me the sword above the stove. Heat it up over a fire until its extra hot and sharp. Then bring it to me and I can get you the perfect fruit.
So the monster went inside to fetch the sword, but he was impatient, so he didn’t heat the blade for long.
“Here it is,” said the Grandma, returning to the yard.
“That’s not hot enough,” said the girl. “I need the blade to be red. You need to make a big fire and heat the blade until it is very ready.”
So the monster did as told, and finally the blade was hot enough that the girl accepted it. “Okay,” said the girl, “now close you eyes and open your mouth so I can toss you the perfect fruit.”
The monster did as told. Seizing the moment, the girl tossed the sword into the monster’s open mouth. The sword went straight through the heart, and the monster was dead.
But then it started to bleed. The corpse bled and bled, rapidly flooding the whole courtyard. Before the girl knew it, the blood was already halfway up the papaya tree.
The girl was stuck. She couldn’t get down for fear of drowning in blood, and the blood continued to rise.
“Dear Moon, Dear Moon,” she prayed. “Come down and save me. Otherwise I will drown in blood.”
She looked up at the full moon, and the moon heard her prayers. It started to descend, but the region was so mountainous that is couldn’t find a clear path to come through.
“Turn to the side! Turn to the side!” the girl called.
So the moon turned to the side and became a crescent. That way it was able to descend into the mountains. Just in time, it picked of the girl and the papaya tree, saving them form their impending doom.
So, now, when you look up at the crescent moon, you know that there are a girl and a papaya tree living up there.
Because of this tragic tale, the Lisu people always leave offerings to the evil monsters before they take their cooked bee larvae. They know the monsters want to eat the delicious larvae like they do. So out of respect, they leave some of the larvae within the hive as an offering. With that, the evil monsters leave the people alone, and they don’t come to terrorize any families.