- Topics & Settings
- Browse Sites
The last person that I chose to interviewed is my grandpa. His name is Chai Vang, also known as Txoog Zeb. My earliest memory of my grandpa was when he would babysit my younger brother and I when my parents were at work. Although my family and I migrated to the United States when I was two, I do not recall any memories of my grandpa in Thailand. Most of my memories of him took place in America. I chose to speak to my grandpa about his shaman experience because he too was a shaman when he was in Laos and Thailand. However after his stroke in 1998, he had to stop. His stroke hindered him to continue performing rituals and ceremonies. Although this is the case, his main dab neeg, spiritiual healers, are still with him. Therefore my grandpa also still have his shaman altar. Because my grandpa is a shaman, at least one of his children must also become one. Becoming a shaman is generational. Recently my older aunt is also a shaman and my father will also become one.
As I entered my uncle’s house, which is also where my grandpa lives, I noticed that my grandpa was in his armchair watching Hmong movies. He has aged a lot since the last time I’ve seen him. I observed him for awhile before talking to him. He would laugh at the scenes that were funny and make a short commentary on scenes that he really liked.
I conducted ceremonies in Laos. We heal a lot of people. A lot of people seek me as a shaman to go ua neeb for them. —Chai Vang
I first asked him what he remembers about being a shaman. He didn’t answer me right away. Instead, he told me about his immigration story. He said:
Nyob Thaibteb peb nyob hauv Vib Nais, peb nyob nyob hauv ces, peb mas li tuaj mus peb Chieng Kham. Peb nyob nyob hauv Cheing Kham peb mas li tuaj tiv Phanat. Peb tuaj Phanat, peb mus li tuaj mekas. (In Thailand we lived in a refugee camp call Vib Nais, we lived there for awhile. Then we moved to another refugee camp in Chieng Kham and finally we went to Phanat. After Phanat, we came to America).
He breifly explained to me his pain in his leg and arms. His left side of his body is paralyzed. However he could still talk and I could still understand him. He said:
Neeb mas peb ua tiv nplog teb. Peb kho kho mob es. Lawm hais kom kuv tuaj ua neeb. (I conducted ceremonies in Laos. We heal a lot of people. A lot of people seek me as a shaman to go ua neeb for them).
He inserted briefly that he remembers that he cannot continue with his neeb anymore. He stated:
Kuv tsis ua neeb li lawm os. Kuv teeg lub thab nos lawm xwb. (I do not conduct rituals or ceremonies as a shaman anymore. I only have an altar that I still feed and honor the spirits).