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The Father

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

(This story is considered to be a true story among the elders of the Hmong community, however it’s been handed down for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, so the old tale has become folklore.)

There once was a family that lived on their own, deep in the jungle located in the mountains, where the father had met a shapeshifting tiger during a hunt. He soon fell ill upon returning home and his last request was to keep his body in the house even after he was dead, “Do not bury me so that I may watch over the family,” were his exact words. On the first night of his funeral, his children saw him rise from the hanging horse rack bed to eat the chicken that was placed at his head, which symbolized a pillow for the dead. The deceased’s body would lay still each time the family looked at him and then they would hear him feasting on the chicken when no one was looking, so the scared mother frantically hid her three small children throughout the house and ran for help in the night. By the time she returned with relatives and weapons, she discovered that her dead husband had eaten their children expect for the youngest only because he confused the movements of the small child for the ruckus of rats, giving up by morning and returned to lay on the hanging horse rack bed like a rotting lifeless corpse. After the mother and relatives set the entire house on fire, they rummaged through the ashes and found the burnt body of an enormous tiger laying on the horse rack bed where her husband’s corpse was supposed to be.

Art by Bao Xiong

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