Mongol Fable: The Grandma Who Had A Little Calf

Enjoy today’s Mongol Fable, creative rendering of Mongolian fairy tales. Check back every Wednesday for more.


Once upon a time, there was an old woman with a black and white calf. She would always be seen with her calf, so she was known in the valley as the grandma with the calf.

One day, the grandma found out that her calf was missing. She was shocked and looked for it everywhere in the valley and the mountains. When the calf was nowhere to be found, the grandma started crying, because she missed her calf very much. Then she noticed there was a large creature sitting on a rock nearby.

The creature asked, “Excuse me, madame. Why are you crying?”

And the grandma told the creature about her black and white calf. The creature looked at her, burped, and said, “Well, that’s funny. Because my name is Mangas the Monster and I ate up your little calf. Not only do I not feel sorry to have eaten your calf, I also want to eat you!”

The grandma trembled in fear and ran away from the monster. She heard the monster say, “Tonight, grandma! I’ll eat you up tonight!”

So the grandma ran and ran in great fear, when she stumbled upon an awl. The awl asked, “My goodness, granny! Why are you running and – what’s this – are you crying?” The grandma told the awl about the monster that ate her calf.

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll save you. Just cook up three batches of cookies for me and wait at your home,” said the awl.

When they parted, the grandma walked home, in great fear still, and met a pair of scissors. The scissors asked her what was wrong and she told it about the monster. The scissors also said it would protect her, but that it would need three batches of cookies in return.

After that, the grandma met a chicken egg that offered its help for the same amount of biscuits. She was quite relieved when a boulder also approached her and offered to help for three batches of biscuits. She agreed and got home, thinking how grateful she should be to have four things to help her.

“Wait a minute,” she thought, “did I just meet up with four inanimate objects? I mean how did that work?” She wondered if she was going crazy, but then she remembered she was in a fable and started cooking three times four (or twelve) batches of cookies.

Twilight came and went, and it was dark. The grandma waited for the “things,” but she couldn’t see anything in that dark. So she started crying, because what good are grandmas in fairy tales if not for the damsel in distress factor?

But then she heard a great rumbling coming from the four directions: north, south, west and east. “Holy mother of God, is that the four things or Mangas the Monster?” she thought. She walked outside to see what it was. It was the four inanimate objects coming to her ger from four directions. She was so happy and excited that she fainted.

The four saviors ate up the cookies the grandma prepared and left the grandma. Just kidding. No, they discussed the ways to save the grandma from the monster.

“I’ll sit on the toono (ger skylight) and look for the monster,” said the boulder. The others thought that might not be a good idea, but when boulder shared a bit of his plan, they lifted him up onto the ger.

Next, the scissors and the awl decided to guard the grandma, and placed her on the bed. The awl sat on the head end and the scissors at the foot end. That left the egg, which was indecisive for a while and finally crawled up into the stove.

During the night, the monster came roaring and cackling. He rapped on the door of the ger and shouted, “Yo, grandma. Where are you? Are you ready to be eaten?”

There was no reply.

The monster threw open the door in one kick and entered. It was pitch black, so the monster said, “Granny, light your lamp now. I can’t see anything. And I smell something nasty. You have some visitors?”

The monster was treading inside when the boulder fell on top him. The boulder almost missed him but managed to come down on his foot.

“Arrrrggghhhh! What? Did you just step on me, grandma? You broke my foot,” Mangas screamed. “I’ll eat you up right now. Where are you? I’ll eat you up.”

The awl imitated the grandma’s voice and said, “Well, dear me. I’m on the bed. Eat me head first.”

“Why not?” the monster said and bent down to eat the grandma, but the awl pierced his lips.

The monster shrieked in shock and said, “You have strong teeth! I’ll eat you from your feet first.”

That was when the scissors cut off the monster’s lips. The monster howled and held his mouth. Blubbering and delirious, he said, “Othay, now you’re justh athking for ith. I’ll eath you uth. I’ll definithely eath you uth tho’orrow. For now, I hathe to geth some sleep. Where can I sleep here?”

At this point, the egg inside the stove said, “You should sleep next to the stove’s door.”

The monster said, “Who wath thath? Oh, well.” Mangas lay down in front of the stove and the egg exploded like a bomb, killing the monster.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

You can read the Mongolian version here, which is a bit different, but will still leave you thinking, “Double-you-tee-eff”. 

mm About Natso Baatarkhuu
Natso Baatarkhuu lives in Mongolia and writes in English. His works have appeared in and The UB Post, and he started this website. He dreams of publishing novels and selling screenplays someday.


Natso Baatarkhuu

Natso Baatarkhuu lives in Mongolia and writes in English. His works have appeared in and The UB Post, and he started this website. He dreams of publishing novels and selling screenplays someday.

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