Chapter 4 The Second Strange Thing

There is another strange thing.

Chen Xuehan didn’t know anything about Tibet, but he went there after he got out of the army. He stayed in Naqu for more than a year and Motuo for three years, but only for a while.

In those days, Tibet was more difficult than one could imagine. But once you got used to it, you would often find reasons to stay.

The same was true for Chen Xuehan. His understanding of Tibet was limited to what he saw, and the reason he stayed there was simply because he was used to it.

In his eyes, putting Tibet into writing was kind of like neglecting the fundamentals to concentrate on the details. He didn’t need to know Tibet, because it wasn’t a concept to him. He liked the place itself, not the name. He didn’t think much of visitors who waxed poetic for Tibet’s mysterious culture. Why was he here? The reason could be found in the fresh and thin air, the vast snowy mountains, and the snow fields as quiet as heaven, not in those grandiose legends.

In the early years, he occasionally helped the local people do odd jobs and became a porter to earn some butter and mutton. When he arrived at Motuo, he opened a shabby restaurant. People who didn’t have much money and brains came to Tibet in those days to look for the meaning of life. Most of his guests were military families visiting relatives and border guards at the local military station.

Motuo had eight months of heavy snow in a year, and Duoxiongla Mountain in particular had fierce snow. In those months of heavy snow, there were very few guests. He lived alone in the back hall of the restaurant. The peace and tranquility fascinated him since few people disturbed him.

He didn’t know where his desire to escape from the world came from. Maybe it was because he dreamed of standing on the top of a snowy mountain in his childhood. It was a kind of extraordinary peace, so he decided to pursue it.

But it wasn’t every year that he could enjoy this kind of peace. That winter was one such exception.

The winter seemed to be very long that year. Chen Xuehan couldn’t even remember the months, all he remembered was that it had snowed for three consecutive days. When he got up in the morning to sweep the snow, he saw a lama standing in front of his restaurant. (1)

This was a lama of Jila Temple, and his name seemed to be Zaji. A few years ago, he secretly asked Chen Xuehan for some wine.

Jila Temple was a lama temple on the snowy mountain. Chen Xuehan often went there when he worked as a porter and was familiar with the lamas in the temple.

It took half a day to get here from Jila Temple. At that time, the sky was slightly bright and the snow hadn’t yet stopped. Zaji, who was covered in ice crystals, had apparently come down the mountain during the night. Even lamas who were familiar with the mountain roads knew it was very dangerous to go down at night when it was snowing heavily. Chen Xuehan expected something must have happened to force Zaji to descend that night.

The lama seemed to have exhausted all his strength and stood there unresponsive. Chen Xuehan asked him in stiff Tibetan what was wrong.

The lama didn’t answer him but said, “Please give me something to eat. Anything is fine. I have to hurry.”

“Where are you going?” Chen Xuehan asked him.

“I’m going to Mapu Temple,” the lama said.

Mapu Temple was a big temple outside Motuo. Chen Xuehan was very surprised because it was extremely dangerous to climb Duoxiongla Mountain during this season. Even if there were very good reasons, one should wait for the snow to stop and find someone to go with them; otherwise, it was easy to encounter small avalanches. And that wasn’t even mentioning the fact that the mountain roads could no longer be seen in many places at this time.

Chen Xuehan let the lama into the house, prepared several highland barley packs for him, and then asked him if anything had happened at the temple.

The lama secretly asked him for a few jugs of wine before he said, “Well, Teacher Shang ordered me to go to Mapu Temple to tell them that the guest is back.”

Hearing this, Chen Xuehan found it very odd, “Guest? Where’s the guest from? What guest?”

In this season, how was it possible for someone to enter Motuo? Moreover, it was even stranger to go to a temple on a snowy mountain.

The lama shook his head, wrapped up his highland barley packs, and said, “Listening to Teacher Shang, it’s a guest from the snowy mountain. I don’t know who it is.”

The lama’s Tibetan had a strange accent to it, so Chen Xuehan found it hard to understand. Zaji must be a foreigner who was sent here by his parents to be a lama. Jila Temple wasn’t a big temple, but the lamas there were famous wise men in this area. Many people would send their sons to temples in the snowy mountains to learn that great wisdom.

“Guest from the snowy mountain” may be a secret saying since many of the lama’s words were obscure and had deep roots.

Chen Xuehan knew that he didn’t understand what went on in the temple, and it was impolite to ask more, so he helped the lama pack everything up and put away the good wine and food.

As was his custom, he accompanied Zaji for a while and helped him carry the package (this was also a way of worshiping Buddha). Although Chen Xuehan didn’t believe in Buddhism, he enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere in this way.

The snow had lessened and the distant Duoxiongla Mountain was a plain white that blended in with the gray sky, which made people feel uneasy. Neither man spoke. Instead, they simply listened to the sound of their footsteps crunching on the snow. After walking for an hour, the lama stopped. Chen Xuehan couldn’t help but ask if it was appropriate to find some villagers to go with him.

The lama smiled at Chen Xuehan, shook his head, and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be alright.” He spoke serenely, and although he was very tired, his heart was filled with joy. With that said, he bid farewell to Chen Xuehan with a salute. (2)

Chen Xuehan returned his salute, but his heart was a little confused. What happened in the lama temple that would make him show such a serene expression?

He was a little distracted as he quietly watched Zaji walk away. Suddenly, the little lama turned back and said a word to him.

He didn’t understand what it meant since the word was blown away in a flurry of snowflakes. By the time he tried to catch up, the lama had disappeared into the snow as if he had never existed.

These two events took place in two different places thousands of miles apart. It was inconceivable that the secrets revolving around these two events could be explained in detail. What was the unknown connection between the underground tomb in the Central Plains and the visitor from the snow fields in Tibet? The biggest mystery in Chinese history that was hiding behind this would be solved by this opportunity.

<Chapter 3> <Table of Contents><Chapter 5>


TN Notes:

(1) A lama is a spiritual teacher in Tibetan Buddhism.

(2) A gesture where you put your palms together near your chest in a prayer-like fashion and bow your head slightly.


Updated 12/4/2021


One thought on “Chapter 4 The Second Strange Thing

  1. Уууу… автор так любит тянуть… прям помираю от нетерпения! Но это точно связано с Цилином!


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