Hmong Folktale: The Promise A Short Film

The Promise A Short Film 
By Hmong Creations Pangnya
       

 I have always loved good Hmong stories.  Hmong folktales usually have words of wisdom at the ends of them that are unique to the Hmong culture.  This is why I love Hmong folktales.  I do understand that everyone has their own version as they get passed down from one generation to another.   The one thing that doesn't change is what you can learn from each story.  I hope you enjoy this video as much as I enjoyed making it.  I have attached a transcript of the story if you'd like to read it or you can just click above to watch the video as well.  I am not a pro at this and only do this for fun.  I actually made this a few years back and found it while I was cleaning up my computer files.  I also have another story that is almost done but I'll probably get to it sometime next week.  
            I have had a few request to make animations of the stories that are being told by the hot Hmong story tellers right now.  I honestly have not listened to any.  My sister tells me about them all the time and how it makes her so upset and how some are such sad stories.  Maybe that is why I don't want to listen to them. My usual videos I live to watch are of science fiction and films that are in the future.  No one knows what the future holds.  I think seeing what others imagine the future to be interesting. The past and sad stories not so much.  Currently I am watching Handmaid's Tale.  It takes place in the future where the majority of people are infertile.  So they force those who can have babies into becoming surrogates to save man kind.  Crazy right! 


The Promise: Don’t promise a time and date for when you will return to your loved one.
      Once upon a time there was a couple. They were madly in love. Her name was Ntxawm and his name was Zeb.  They lived in separate villages and it would take Zeb 3 nights and 3 days to get to Ntawm’s village.  They always wanted to be together but Zeb was still working to save money and Ntxawm didn’t want to leave her parents yet as she was the only child.  So they spent as much time as they could together. 

       
     There was misunderstanding within the Country so Zeb was recruited to go to war and fight for his village.  He was sad that he would be leaving his girlfriend and family behind.  He didn’t know how long he would be gone and if he would even survive the war. He only hoped for the best.  Before he went to war he went to see Ntawm. 


       
     Ntxawm made  him promise her that no matter what happened he would come back for her and love her forever no matter what.  Ntxawm promised that she would stay and wait for him.  Zeb promised he would come back to marry her and then they said they goodbyes.


   
      Finally 5 years later the war ended and Zeb returned home. He was happy to see his family and friends.  On a visit to one of his friends house his friends sister, Hli, asked him about life and how he was doing.  She has always had a crush on him.  Zeb told her that he was about to leave to marry Ntxawm and bring her back to the village.  Hli didn’t know how to tell Zeb that Ntxawm and her whole village had been killed during the war. So she told him that she heard Ntxawm had gotten married. Very upset Zeb ran off to Ntxawm’s village to see if it was true.


    
      Upon arrival, the village was empty and quiet.  As he approached Ntxawm’s house he was relieved to see she was sitting outside and had been waiting for him.  He was so happy to see her.  When he finally caught his breath he sat down to talk. He wanted to know everything that was new about her and how she was doing. He wanted to speak with her parents. Ntxawm said her village was empty because the villagers went to the garden to protect their plants from the birds.   


       
       It was getting dark so they went inside.  When they got inside Zeb asked Ntxawm to light the fire.  She did just that but when she sat down she sat down facing away from Zeb.  Zeb asked her why she was sitting away from him and thought it was strange. He told her he wanted to see her beautiful face.  She told him her back was cold and she was trying to warm up. So he sat on the couch and asked her to come cuddle with him but she refused and said she would just sit next to him because she was shy. 


       
       As he sat next to her and the fire light flickered he noticed her skin and face were rotten. Maggots were coming out of her eyes and she had missing pieces of skin on her legs and arms.  She had a stench that smelled like left out raw meat and she felt as cold as ice. He asked when the villagers would be back and she said she didn’t know and they had been gone for a long time. That was when he knew that she was dead.  He had to escape but was scared she would follow him home so he knew he had to be careful.


   
       Finally he saw his chance and told her he had to use the bathroom.  Ntxawm wanted to go with him but he said he was shy so he gave her one end of his waist belt and told her pull to assure that he was still there.  So Zeb went outside but instead of using the bathroom he tied his belt onto the bench and ran.  All of a sudden it got really quite to Ntxawm decided to go check up on him. To her surprise he was not there. She gave a loud scream and ran after him.

       
        
      All night long Zeb ran in circles while Ntxwam chased him.  Zeb was so scared and didn’t know what to do.  He just kept on running as fast as he could but he could still hear her calling his name. Zeb Zeb Koj nyob qhov tug. Koj tsi hlub kuv lawm lov. All he could think about was getting way and getting back to his village.  He wished he would have listened to the rumors and just stayed away. Finally he couldn’t hear her calling his name anymore and so he stopped to catch his breath. He didn’t know that she was still right behind him.  


       
       When she got a hold of him, Zeb tried to tell her to let him go because they were no longer living in the same worlds.  But she told him she kept her he promise and he needed to keep his. Now Zeb knew that she would never leave him.  He was scared to death but in that moment he was able to muster up some courage and break loose from her.  It was too dark and he was lost.  So, Zeb decided to hide from her and waited until morning.


       
        When the sun started to come up he finally found his way and ran back to his village. He told his parents what had happened so they did a ritual for him that changed his name so that Ntxawm wouldn’t know where he was.  No one was to ever call him Zeb ever again to prevent her from finding him   He was to stay in the house for 30 days.  Zeb was just happy to be safe and back home and would do anything to get away from Ntxawm.


          
     On day 29 his best friend came and asked him to come hang out.  At first Zeb said no because the 30 days had not passed yet so the birds and bees would still know his real name.  Zeb contemplated his decision but felt it was close enough and didn’t think one day made a difference.  So Zeb decided he would go hang out with his friends.  When he opened the door there was no sign of Ntxawm so he felt he was finally safe.  As he walked closer and closer to the door the moment he took one step out of his house, Ntwawm appeared.  “There you are” she whispered. Before he could turn back into the house she grabbed him and took him with her.


   
        They would be together forever.  There is a saying to don’t make promises and set a time and date to meet up with your loved one. Or you will end up like Ntxawm and Zeb where even though they were in two different worlds and Ntxawm was dead she was able to wait and take Zeb with her to the underworld. 

I hoped you enjoyed my version of this popular Hmong Ghost Story! 

What is your favorite Hmong Folktale?

Here are other stories by me. Enjoy!

Hmoob Dab Neeg - Nraug Ntsuag thiab Niam Nkauj Zuag Paj : a narrated short film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhFif5...

Hmoob Dab Neeg - The Twins: a narrated scary short film about sister rivalry http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLg4B2...

Hmoob Dab Neeg - Nkauj Nos : a narrated short film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DoGK0...
 


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