Resurrecting Mongolian mythology with writer Surina

Author: Surina 苏日那

Born in 1992 to a traditional Mongolian family who pastured sheep and cattle on the steppes of Inner Mongolia, Surina is now a radio host in Changchun, Jilin province. She enjoys rock music and literature, and describes herself as an urban dweller whose inner child has settled permanently on the grassland. She began to write in 2010 and is a contracted author on and a magazine columnist. Her fiction has been published on Douban and

All those who have met Dalai Emch-nar (emch-nar means “doctor” in Mongolian) say he is a genius. He could make the blind see the blue sky and make the mute sing. He could grow new legs on amputees and make infertile women give birth to twins. How do you find him? Some people say that he is traveling around the world. One day he might be a blacksmith; another day a shepherd. Maybe he is sitting next to you.

One day Dalai Emch-nar traveled to the Zürkh River Ranch in the northern part of the steppes. Instead of a horse, he led a donkey. But not only did he not ride the donkey, he carried all his possessions himself and let the donkey trot along in leisure. The people who saw this whispered behind his back—why does he do all the work and let the animal rest? Dalai Emch-nar didn’t care. He just walked to the rancher’s house at a slow pace.

The hospitable rancher slaughtered cattle and lambs to welcome Dalai Emch-nar, but he only waved his hands and asked where he could find the lushest grass nearby. When he got the answer, he took his donkey there to graze. The ranch hands were all confused, but Dalai Emch-nar didn’t explain. He only said, “In three days, you will know the reason.”

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Fiction: The Doctor is a story from our issue, “Disaster Warning.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


Surina 苏日那 is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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