An Unusual Seagull: a Sad Fairy Tale with a Happy Ending
© Photo: Key to Baikal
July, 10

An Unusual Seagull: a Sad Fairy Tale with a Happy Ending

Today we will tell you an unusual horror story: a sad story from the coast of Lake Baikal, as it turned out, the ending was good. You are welcome the story of an unusual seagull passed by Buryat folklore from generation to generation...

Buryat folklore contains the very spirit of this people and its character. Fairy tales are especially interesting: their origin can be found deep in the history of national life. They reflect the inseparable harmonious connection of Buryats with the surrounding nature, their faith in humanity.

Buryat folk tales often include miraculous objects, for example, a magic stone capable of changing the weather, or the water of life animating the dead. And no matter how terrible or sad a fairy tale is, it always has the main idea: any kind of evil, even though it may seem attractive, will always be defeated by goodness, mercy, quick wit, generosity, and wisdom.

Namely this unique organic interconnection of the two worlds - the world of people and the world of nature - predetermined the unique “natural” philosophy of the world perception of Buryats that is very vividly manifested in national fairy tales.

A Tale of a Buryat Storyteller (“Ontokhoshin”)

This happened at Baikal long ago. Autumn was unusually cold and windy that year, so all the birds flew to the south very early. Then a stormy hurricane captured Baikal, bringing an unusual bird to the Baikal coast.

This is how people learned to know about this: there was a yurt of the old man called Shono on the coast: he was awakened by a loud cry of despair uttered by a seagull. The old man had never heard such a cry before: it was too sad and bitter. Shono decided to go to the coast and see who was crying this way. And he saw the following: an unusual and very large strange gull uncommon for those places was flying over the waters of Baikal; he saw no birds of this kind in that place before. As a matter of fact, this gull was brought by a strong hurricane from the north.

Shono did not understand that the bird was afflicted by a great sorrow. And he hurried to return home as soon as possible.

Thus, the strange gull settled on Baikal. And even though it had enough fish here, it missed her home, the Arctic Ocean. She wanted to come back very much. Indeed, it was an ice gull and lived its entire life on the ocean shore. And it missed its native place so much that it screamed with such a despair that everyone who heard it started to feel sorrow as well. Soon all of the fishermen of the Sacred Sea, all the hunters of the Baikal taiga and mountains got to know about the heart-piercing cries of the bird, and even the shamans turned their close attention to this seagull. Due to its extraordinarily large size, people gave the gull a nickname: “An Unusual Seagull”, a vagabond seagull.

 And the shamans became afraid of her and told everyone that this unfortunate bird was an evil spirit, a cruel little prophet of the future misfortunes and disasters that it was about to bring.

Although Baikal was rich in fish, spacious and free, the Unusual Seagull dreamed of bright rainbow flashes of the distant northern lights, strong polar snowfall, howling snowstorm, barking and running blue foxes, the mighty tides of the cold ocean waves and formidable whirring of wandering icy mountains.

By all means the seagull tried to return to her homeland. But terrible and strong winds rushed at Baikal for a long time, which did not allow the seagull to fly far away, the winds repeatedly carried the bird back to the Baikal Mountains. And finally she decided to take the last attempt - mustered up its last strength and soared into the sky. She screamed in the way she never did before: sadly, harshly, with deep despair...

The old man Shono could not stand that cry: he ran to the coast, took a gun and fired at the Unusual Seagull. The shot hit the goal, the seagull fell down like a stone, onto the coastal sand, blood spilled all around it; it seemed that the bird fell silent forever...

Shono approached the seagull, looked at it, and then he was surprised and frightened. His heart was suddenly broken. He saw pure tears in the eyes of the seagull, and bright flashes of cold northern lights on its eyelids. And then old Shono realized that he had made a big mistake by killing the innocent bird.

He stood looking at the bird for a long time, feeling pity for the poor creature and not knowing what to do next; then he decided to somehow correct his mistake. He remembered about a place on the coast of Baikal with miraculous hot healing springs. As old people told, these springs came up from the depths of the Earth along the waterways connecting Baikal with the Arctic Ocean, and the water was heated under the ground. He hoped that maybe the water of the native ocean of the bird could revive it.

He put the seagull in the boat and rowed directly to that wonderful place. There he scooped up a wooden spoon of water from the spring and poured it over a dead bird. Surprisingly enough and to Shono’s delight, the water could really reanimate living creatures. Just before the eyes of the old man, the seagull’s wound healed, the bird moved and rapidly soared to the sky. And no one could stop it – the Unusual Seagull raised high, flew to the north, overcame all the headwinds and vanished out of sight.

Many years have already passed, but, this wise and suspenseful tale is passed from generation to generation on the coast of Lake Baikal: it excites the soul and makes one think about the moral courage, devotion to one’s home and the consequences of human actions.

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