By Xintong Wei
‘Ting-tang’ ‘Ting-tang’, the sharp and shrill scream of the old bell in the centre tower of the small but prosperous town, cracked the sky and resonated in the quiet valley before the dawn, like a monster with huge black wings dashing over your head,hovering around and laughing at you in his low and raucous voice. He tortured you, but never really hurt you. He fed on your fear. The fear of losing, not just your beloved ones, not even love itself,but also hope, which will ally the sense and reason and strengthen your will with courage from your deep soul–the vigour and desire for existence, against his omnipresent and dreadful wings that blocked the mellow sunlight from earth,and will ultimately help you survive.
However, the sound of the bell was not a devil but on the contrary,an angel, as it brought hope. Having pulled themselves out from their dreams,which undoubtedly were bad ones with terrifying endings, the citizens understood the signal clearly: ‘Arm yourself. The enemies have come.’
It was an invasion. The Mongolians came. There has been a lot of rumours about them. The official document described them as ‘Manyi’, which means savage. But not many people were able to read the characters on the white sheet since the literate proportion was quite low during that time period,and even fewer people had the leisure to go to the city hall where the white sheet was displayed and guarded by two armed soldiers, to study what was the government’s opinion and to disdain the barbaric Mongolians in solidarity with the intellectual who wrote this document for the emperor in a rhetorical way. It was in vain. It only made people laughed at their emperor, not in public, of course.
They had lost faith in the white sheet with shiny words. What they knew was that Mongolian men slept on the horse. Some people even argued that actually they don’t sleep at all and they never let the swords out of their hands as they were the symbol of honour. And they view honour as life. So, the simple conclusion follows: that their sword and consequently, the war is their lives!
What a weird thought since the war was nothing but bloody killing. Does it mean that, for a Mongolian, death equals life? Women did not talk about honour or their strange philosophy and attitude towards life. They did not understand why their husbands were concerned about those useless and abstract concepts and did not share their complicated feelings. Admiration on the one hand, as they felt contempt for their coward emperor surrounded by the even more timid intellectual, and fear on the other hand, as the Mongolian were their enemies, not friends, who were the vulture coveting their rice stock,horses,cattle and everything they had.
When the Mongolians cannot take those things with them,they would kill, burn and destroy, just like any other conquerers have done in human history. Women were scared by the idea that nobody was able to protect their towns and they would be captives and had to sleep on the horse for the rest of their lives! How dreadful a life like that must be! Women hate horses and they hate men like animals, living in the wild and never bothering to clean themselves.
Nobody in this town had actually seen any Mongolian in their life. Neither did the most diligent merchants who traveled far away to exchange goods with the people who had a different language and worship a different God. But there was an artist,who came to the town just a week before the bell rang, who bragged that he had seen a small regiment of Mongolian calvary himself, and painted for them. His pictures sold well in this town. The pictures look exactly as the rumours depicted: the soldiers were with brown skin, looked villainous and strong, and slept on their horses.
Rich people hung the picture on their private shrine and worship their new gods–the Mongolian cavalry. They thought their new gods may not like flowers or fruits, so they changed the oblation to oil and animal blood.
However, some acute people pointed out how did the artist manage to survive? Only two answers were available. Either the Mongolians were so kind and civilised that they respected and appreciated the artist and let him go, or the artist was actually a spy. So they hung the artist in the central square. The poor man cried,shouted and struggled desperately and then died.
What about the invasion? It turned out that it was just a large flock of donkeys passing by.