Finishing reading the novel named Wolf Totem, I got some kind of uneasiness. Perhaps it was only in a kink of my nature, strong in me even in those days. I just couldn’t help writing something for the wolf and the pasture which had vanished at the end of the novel, vanished from reality.
At first, I started to read this novel printed in English to improve my English. But once I began, I found that I quickly lost myself into the primitive grassland described by the educated youth sent to Inner Mongolia.
On this grassland, wolves, marmots, rabbits, flocks, herders and even mosquitoes live together as a whole. It seems that only the wolf and the herder are at the reverence of Tengger among these creatures. They all worship their great mother: the land, who gives them water, food and the most important—the living land.
The Mongolian grassland wolf is smart, strong and ferocious. They can make an outstanding trap for their pray, using excellent strategies Tengger granted them. They eat gazelles, marmots and also the flocks herded by the people to fill their bellies. Another purpose of their pray is to protect the grassland from eating up by vegetarians. On the other hand, the herders who also live on this land for thousands of years make the good use of their talent and experience to trap the Mogollon wolves. The herders remove the pelts from the wolves’ bodies to sell. But they will never eat the wolves’ meat. In respect of Tengger, the carcass of the dead herder will be taken to the sky—burial ground and stay for some days until the wolf eat up all his body includes the meat, the bone and even the hair. When nothing left on that ground, it means the soul of that man has been sent to Tengger.
Traveling in this novel, I often feel that I’m really riding a Mongolia horse on the broad grassland. I can smell the fragrance sent out by the earth and the grass. I trap the marmot, enjoy the butter tea, fight against the pack of wolves, and look up into the clear sky to revere Tengger greatly.
It’s a tragedy for the wolf, the herder and the country to witness the complete process, a process how a lush pastureland full of vigorous lives changed into a sandy land. I feel the pangs of heart as the writer did when the tragedy came into reality.
And the dead of that “Little Wolf” raised by Chen Zhen also broke my heart. I love the wolf deeply. Chen raised it using a chain to limit its range of activity. But the wolf never gave up the attempt to roam the vast grassland freely. The wolf gradually became mature and strong as the hours passed by. He never stopped trying. The cub’s temperament eventually sealed his fate. On a windless, moonless dark night when the dogs did not bark and the stars did not shine, Little Wolf died. Because the injury the wolf got after his suicide struggle for free was too terrible to cure, Chen ended his life with a spade. The cub didn’t make a sound as he slumped to the ground, a true Mongolian grassland wolf till the very end.
After 30 years, when Chen Zhen came to the Olonbulag, to the cave where he caught the cub and his brothers, he yelled into the cave “Little Wolf, Little Wolf, time to eat.” No answer but whispers of a breath of dry wind. The admirable, lovely, and pitiable Little Wolf won’t run to him joyfully, wrapping his legs around Chen’s, rubbing up against his knees and licking his hands and chin. Perhaps the dead of Little Wolf was related to its own stubbornness, Chen Zhen or the “farmers”。 However it did die.
“Little Wolf, Little Wolf, time to eat” I have my face covered with tears. A deep sorrow rouses in my heart. As Chen said that the ancient cave of the wolf cub would be buried in yellow sand one day, but Little Wolf will live in my mind forever.
And I will not forget that old man I admire so much. As one of the leaders on the Olonbulag, Billgee is venerable and wise like a wolf king.
Bao Shungui, a chief in the Inner Mongolian Production and Construction Corps I hate very much, always said that Billgee was on the wolf’s side. Actually, Billgee was on the grassland’s side.
Because wolves on the pastureland had the function of controlling the number of vegetarians, which did good for the pastureland in the long run, Bellgee always tried to keep the amount of wolves at an appropriate level. He worshiped the Mongol Wolf. He believed in that the sprit of wolf had helped the Mongols live against the terrible environment on the grassland for thousands of years. As he often said “You Chinese will never understand the Mongolian wolves” we will never know about the wolf as much as him. In fact, he is one of the wolf kings on the vast grassland in my mind, smart and tenacious.
The old man suffered more than most but that he was also the luckiest, the last Mongol to have a sky burial and return to Tengger.
That dog named Erlang makes a profound impression on me, too. I call it dog, but I am still not sure it’s a dog or wolf. Perhaps it’s a hybrid of a male wolf and a female dog.
It was loyal to its master, helped watch flocks and fight against wolves. At the same time, it used to eat lambs and often walked along far away from the people. It was also much more ferocious than other dogs. When Chen Zhen brought back the little wolf, Erlang was the only dog to go close to the wolf. During the following months, it treated the wolf as its son when other dogs always barked at the wolf. I guess there are some mutual things among Erlang and the wolf.
I like Erlang. I like its loyalty as a dog and its proud loneliness as a wolf. We can’t find it during the leisure time when Erlang is always thinking about something in some place, but once in service, we make sure that Erlang is at its post.
At last, Erlang was killed by a “farmer” who didn’t belong to the grassland after it’d left the yurt and was wrapped in his own thoughts out in the grass. I will miss Erlang.
I am not enough lucky as Chen Zhen to live on the primitive grassland for 11 years, to enjoy every beautiful thing including wolves, the swan lake, the simple herder and so on. But in some ways I am luckier than Chen Zhen, who also witnessed the withered process of the last original grassland in the flesh. I think it’s really cruel to Chen Zhen to see all the terrible things happen, but he could do nothing. I have the same sorrow when reading this novel, when experiencing the process indirectly.
Finishing reading Wolf Totem, I learned a lot. After thinking about the wolf, the grassland and the country, I feel awfully growing up about it.
At this instant, I see my very own wolf totem.