Oyungerel Ts. Speech on the Opening Ceremony of The Green Eyed Lama
I am too excited, I’m about to cry.
It took many years to prepare The Green Eyed Lama’s birth, and I am relieved that we are finally delivering it here.
Much time passed since I first dreamt of writing the stories of my ancestors, my grand-grandparents and their sons and daughters, and how they were purged. I couldn’t deliver the stories I carried in my soul for twelve years, alone. With Jeff’s assistance, and my co-author’s everyday involvement, this story became alive.
Jeff worked with me for many years, understanding our country, our people, and taking the sadness of our history close to his heart. He became one of us, he became a Mongol -- staying in gers, spending nights out in countryside, sharing our joy and pain, and by loving our culture and traditions like it was his own. Therefore, from this respectful stage, I want to thank you a thousand times to my co-author and dear husband, Jeff.
While writing The Green Eyed Lama, I realized that sometimes it takes only one word to move someone to undertake an important work. On September 10, 1996 , I attended a meeting to honor repressed people. At that meeting, on the Sukhbaatar Square, my boss, chairman of the State Rehabilitation Commission of that time, Mr. Elbegdorj Tsakhia, gave a memorable speech. He mentioned one message again just a few minutes ago at this gathering. It is that “Repressed people were fighters”. He also said that he was officially conveying the apology of the Mongolian government sought by its people.
This short message about apology gave me strength and courage to start digging into the hidden part of our history where my great-grand parents and their children’s repression stories could be found. If my mother had heard such a message, I believe she could have written an even more interesting book. She was that brilliant minded and educated a woman.
But, because my mother Doljin Chimid was an ideological department officer of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, she was burdened by the realities of her time. I grew up feeling how she lead a double life in order to show her official resume as truly communist. She didn’t have the right to mention in her biography that she had a medical lama grandfather, and gavj lama uncle. My mother’s party job didn’t allow her to even mention that her great-grandfather was a famously rich herdsman. Since my earliest day as far as I know, my mother’s communist biography contained only one sentence about her ancestors that they were poor herders.
Today, thanks to democracy, thanks to freedom, we are opening these stories of our ancestors -- enriched by literary imagination-- in front of all of you and the world.
The main protagonist in our novel, The Green Eyed Lama, would have been portrayed as a class enemy in our communist-era literature. But thank god, the dark times are over. We can now describe a person by his personal character, rather than by his class or political affiliation. The green eyed lama emerges from that darkness into our world revealing his personal character and his very human face.
From our book you will understand that our ancestors, branded as counter-revolutionists and punished by being themselves, were ordinary people just like us. Their joys and sorrows, dreams and loves are ours.
I am very pleased to mention that our book was a work of many people. We are deeply grateful to all who helped us. Most of all, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to my late grandmother Densmaa Davaa, who waited for and dreamt of seeing this book to her last day. The stories that she told me are at the heart of our book. Also, I would like to thank Dr. Renchin, who shared his extensive research on the Huvsgul Province mass graves of repressed people. And many thanks to all the historians and writers of Mongolian history, as well as those who shared their family stories with us. My special thanks to my late uncle Luvsandorj Chimid, and to uncle Denjin Rentsen for sharing their notebooks with family stories.
During our research in Erdenebulgan soum of Huvsgul province, many other families came forward with their family stories. Among them was Narantsetseg Baasan, who is sitting among us, and who gave us a great deal of information about Baasan lama. Some of the stories provided by the people of Erdenebulgan are included as they were told. Others were weaved into our main characters’ stories.
I would like to thank those who helped make our novel a real book. They were editor, writer and journalist Mr. B. Zolbayar, technical editor and journalist Mrs.Sh. Badamhand, editor and my sister Oyunchimeg Tsedevdamba, graphic designer and my brother Dorj Tsedevdamba and translation editor Mrs. Chinbat Emgen. Also, thank you very much Admon company, for printing our book in Mongolia.
Dear readers, I want you to put aside your reservations for a moment and try to read our book with love. If only our prominent writers, who possess real literary words and talents of beautiful writing, have been writing books like The Green Eyed Lama, my modest self, an economist by profession, wouldn’t be rushing to bring a novel to our bookshelves. But because such books are not coming out, and because so many still see lamas as counter-revolutionists, I dared to co-write this novel.
We boldly dream that our manuscript will be published some day in its original English. When that time comes, the story of an ordinary Mongolian man, like the green eyed Lama, will join the worldwide chorus of voices urging us to love and cherish liberty and human rights. And I am sure that The Green Eyed Lama will find its place in that chorus.
Please enjoy the Green Eyed Lama.
May the Eternal Blue Sky and the spirit of Huvsgul’s mountains and the Dayan Deerkh Deity bless you!