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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

The Mongols, Wine and Malika

In ancient times, there was a village called Tusyan nestled among the rolling hills. The land was covered with vineyards, fields of wheat, and abundant fruit trees, making it a place that seemed like paradise. The people of Tusyan knew nothing of winemaking back then; they used all the grapes for eating.

At the heart of this prosperous village was a kind and noble leader named Davlatsho. He never demanded payment from his villagers, but they willingly shared the bounty of their harvest with him. The villagers lived in harmony and peace, and there was no need for an army to keep order. Tusyan and its wise leader, Davlatsho, became renowned throughout the world.

One day, word reached Davlatsho that the mighty Changez Khan was on his way to crush their beautiful village. Changez Khan was envious of Tusyan's peaceful leader and the idyllic life the villagers enjoyed.

Davlatsho called upon the village's elders to devise a plan to defend their beloved home. After many hours of discussion, it became clear that none had a solution, and despair hung heavily in the air. However, Davlatsho had a daughter named Malika, a shy but intelligent sixteen-year-old girl, known for her kindness.

Realizing that hope was fading, Malika turned to her father and the elders. With a tremor of shyness in her voice, she said, "My revered father, if you and the elders permit me to speak, I have a suggestion."

Everyone fell silent, eager to hear her idea. "Father and respected elders," Malika began, "in ancient books, I've read about a curious concoction made by pressing grapes and letting their juice ferment in barrels. This mixture can make people fall into a deep sleep. If you allow me, I will gather the young people, and we will pick the grapes and make this magical potion."

The elders were not entirely convinced, but out of respect for her father and with no better ideas in sight, they gave Malika their blessing. She gathered all the young villagers, and together they ventured into the lush vineyards.

For an entire day, the young folks toiled under the sun, singing and laughing as they worked. Seventy-seven barrels brimming with grape juice were filled, and these barrels were placed in the sun at the village's entrance, near the hanging bridge across the Shokhdara River.

Five days later, as the sun dipped below the horizon, the village watchman's voice rang out with alarming news: Changez Khan and his soldiers were approaching through the valley. Fear gripped the villagers, and they rushed to hide in their homes. However, Malika had a plan.

She ordered each family to sacrifice a ram and prepare the meat. The villagers did as she instructed, and the savory aroma of roasted meat filled the air. Then, Malika directed the young people to arrange the meat near the barrels at the village's entrance.

Standing on the bridge, Malika addressed Changez Khan and his soldiers, her voice unwavering. "Dear brothers, we know you have not come in peace, but with intentions to destroy our village. Though we are many, we are not warriors; we are a peaceful people. We won't resist you. But before you bring harm upon us, we invite you to share a meal."

Changez Khan was taken aback by her words, but his men were weary and famished after their long journey. So, he agreed to a pause for food and drink before their destructive mission.

Changez and his soldiers indulged in the delicious meal, including the fermented grape juice, unaware of its sleep-inducing powers. Soon, drowsiness overcame them all.

While they slumbered, Malika and the young villagers sprang into action. They courageously beheaded Changez Khan's soldiers and laid their lifeless bodies in a deep pit in the ground, where their bones remain to this day.

Thanks to Malika's quick thinking and bravery, the beautiful village of Tusyan and its peace-loving inhabitants were saved. When Davlatsho eventually passed away, the villagers appointed Malika as their new leader in gratitude for her heroic deed. From that day forward, their peace was never disturbed again, and the art of winemaking found its way to the Pamirs, enriching the lives of the people and adding to the legend of Tusyan.



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