The Twelfth Vision (3 December, 2023) set in Kharkhorin, Mongolia

Featured & Cover The Twelfth Vision (3 December 2023) set in Kharkhorin Mongolia

The rocks, the hills, and the endless plains around. Snow crusts against the crags from here until the end of land. A few yurts are in the foreground and background both. They are round egg-shaped tents, polyps of human construction against a harsh human-less earth. A brown puffy dog guards the one that is closest by, barking furiously.

Mother rushes by on her horse, and within seconds all of the yurts are far behind her.

How is Mother speeding this quickly? She has never learned how to ride a horse, and yet she races through the frost-covered plains, alongside a herd of other wild horses. It seems like an infinitude of bodies have come to speed alongside her, following her to form a galactic trail of hoofprints. Mother has to cling to her horse so that she doesn’t fall off. Her hands clutch hard against the reins as the wind stings her skin. She can barely see what is ahead through her squinting eyes.

There is snow, there is land, there are rocks, and there are cliffs. Is that a temple? It looks like a small little temple on top of one of the rocks, an octangular box of a building, with charms decorated in bichig nested in the trees around it. Before Mother’s eyes can fix on it, she is thrust away at hyper speed.

Tamag. The place of punishment. She has sniffed its fires before and feels them burning against her hairs despite her horse trampling on frost. All Mother has to do is remember how her life has been a living Hell—all because she willed it, all because she felt so punished in her heart and soul. She refused to let herself feel anything else despite the world of emotions churning under the surface.

Even now she is burning, but she knows she should feel frosted to the bone.

Mother thinks:

It’s all in my head. Yes, I suffered. Yes, men touched me without asking. Yes, I didn’t like my mother’s new husband and wanted him dead. Yes, I made sacrifices for my family so my husband could become successful and respected. And then there’s the matter involving my son.

I spend all day praying for him.

But is it him I’m really praying for?

I have been given a great life. My son lives in a way I don’t like, but at least he is healthy, and he’s made a lot of effort in getting back in touch with me. I have close friends and relatives who spend time with me. I have a house that others would find expensive to own. I have the time to dedicate my life to prayer and thought.

I am an incredibly blessed human being.

So much of my thinking has changed with age. In the beginning, all I wanted to do was bless others with my charity. When we made a home for ourselves, I visited the neighbours because I wanted to help them raise their children. I wanted to help my sister, too. Not because I wanted her son to be another son for me; I wanted to do what was the best for their family.

But then I got caught up with the worries. Years passed. I worried about my lot in life. I worried about the things I didn’t get that I thought I deserved.

This life is temporal. This life is an illusion. And if this life is a test, I am failing. I have wailed at God for every small thing I am missing.

What is the real reason for my prayers? What is the reason why all these small things bother me? What is the reason why I try all of these things in the name of others but quit them when they don’t serve my needs?

What is my role in the life I am living?

When will I face the real me?

The land is once more morphing. The outward crest of white is tunneling. There is a whorl in the distance, right on the wall of a monastery. The walls are whiter than snow, and so the tear in the dimension almost blends in. But it is strong enough to suck in the golden paints on the mandalas and the rooftop. A vivid golden Buddha surrounded by miniatures in a thangka is in the centre of the white hole. It seems to be on the other side of this wall, this portal.

That is what it is—on the other side of this rupture in time is the return to Mother’s world. The one with their house and not these yurts, the one with her husband and son and not these horses. That is where she is going. Her stampede of horses has crossed hundreds of kilometres in minutes, helping her reach her destination. The air is blurring around her. She feels her body sucking apart at the seams.

It’s already time to go back to them.

But am I ready for it?

Before she can take the time to think out a response, the horse jumps through the portal, and the plains end.

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