In Search of the Yeti

In Tajikistan, which isn’t so much a country anymore but a forced border with a flag run by criminals/warlords, the people of the Romit Valley aren’t scared of the criminals, they are scared of Yeti.  Yes, the proper name for the Abominable Snowman.  A fictional monster.

The peasant knows about the Yeti. “Ten years ago, I saw him. I was climbing a hill to gather firewood and I saw somebody. I go hey, hey, but then he started running towards me. It was the Yeti, covered in black wool, with breasts like the woman’s…”

I ask him to swear on the Koran that he saw the Yeti. Raising his hand to heaven the old man insists and gives me his Islamic word. “I don’t know about other people, but I saw it. It was shouting with anger, rarghh, I was shouting with fear, eeee, and I run.” The countryside changes dramatically as we talk. The road has become a dirt track. The car is swerving and sidling as it climbs  up the barren gullies. The old man insists he saw the Yeti. Everyone knows somebody who has in the nearby villages. “When I got back to the village, my father started reading the Koran to me, as protection.”

Nature is starting to blossom in rich abundance. Cherry blossom hangs off the crags. Shoots of wild onions sprout out of the dark earth. “Look,” says Surob. “Look at the herbals, the Yeti is eating the herbals, this is why he lives here.” Coloured tips of wild flowers, blues, reds, purples, grow among the jagged browns, reds and greys of the mountains. Another curve. A stark, barren river valley. “Hey, they saw him too.” Surob stops the car and gives traditional greetings to two middle-aged men driving the traditional clapped-out Lada.

“Yeah, I had fight with him,” says the hunter. “He has wool, black wool, and these breasts…” And he wolf-whistles. His companion, a chubby man in a sizeable skullcap, butts in. “Oh yes, I was up in the glade, and he attacked my donkey. It was very frightening. He looked like a wild man — or a clever monkey.” The sightings occur in the same places. Regularly.

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