Thoughts on “Txhob Cia Lig” (Don’t Let It Be Too Late)

“Txhob Cia Lig” (Don’t Let It Be Too Late) is actually a Hmong song sung by a Hmong Singer, Dib Xwb. When this song first came out, I wasn’t really into it. I listened to it once and not really again. But my sister, who hangs out with my cousin who listens to this song a lot, got it stuck in her head. She asked me for the song, which I had no idea at the time. But I quickly guessed the song because I had listened to it once and know the singer. But I’ll be talking about this song because it has some importance and relation to the Hmong culture/traditions that I will like to share. But first of all, let’s get to know the song first! Here is the music video, it’s a bit cheesy, but I actually like it (the costumes are really pretty). I will provide lyrics (thanks to the singer!) and English translations. Bear in mind, I’m not the best translator, and there may be errors. Enjoy the song!

 

“Txhob Cia Lig” (Don’t Let It Be Too Late)
Txhob cia kuv tuag
Don’t let me die (Don’t wait until I die)
Koj mam tuaj xyua
Then you will come see me
Koj lub qua muag
Your tears
Txhob tuaj nkim, tuaj quaj
Don’t come cry and waste it

Thaum tseem muaj sia
When I’m still alive,
Tsis xyeej sib hawm tuaj nrhiav
You don’t have the time to come visit
Nrog kuv ib pliag…
And be with me for a bit
Daws kev nyuaj siab
To make worries go away

Thaum ntawv txawm yuav…
Even then when you
Tsa lub suab nyiav
Raise your voice to call out [to me]
Los tus neeg tuag
But a dead person
Rua tsis tau muag ntsia
Cannot open her eyes to look

*Chorus:
Yog koj hlub kuv
If you love me,
Ces hlub kiag hnub no
Then love me today
Txhob cia tag kis, dhau mus ua hli
Don’t wait until tomorrow, or months
Thaum muaj ib siab ob qig (I don’t know how to translate this verse)
Thiaj tsis nco khuv xim
So you won’t regret it
Tsis txhob cia lig
Don’t Let It Be Too Late
Tsam ces tsis tau sib ntsib
Or you may not be able to see [me]

Verse 2:
Tsis txhob cia lig
Don’t Let It Be Too Late
Mam li tuag ntsib
Then you’ll come visit
Txawm tias tuaj ntsib
Even if you come see,
Los tsis muaj txiaj ntsig
It will be worth nothing anymore

Thaum tseem muaj sia
When I’m still alive,
Xyeem lub sib hawm tuaj nrhiav
And you have free time to come,
Nrog kuv ib pliag
[Come] be with me for a bit
Tham kev zoo siab
Let us talk of happiness

*Chorus:
Yog koj hlub kuv
If you love me,
Ces hlub kiag hnub no
Then love me today
Txhob cia tag kis, dhau mus ua hli
Don’t wait tomorrow, or months
Thaum muaj ib siab ob qig
Thiaj tsis nco khuv xim
So you won’t regret it
Tsis txhob cia lig
Don’t Let It Be Too Late
Tsam tsis muaj txiaj ntsim
Or it won’t be worth it anymore

The lyrics and music video seems to convey the same message I will be discussing about.

The song talked about how the woman have to wait for the man she loves. She waits for a long time but he doesn’t come back until he had a dream about her committing suicide. He then ran to her and they happily unite. The song lyrics also mentions the same message: Don’t wait until it’s too late to talk and/or be with the one you love.

How does this relates to the Hmong culture? Well, it relates quite a lot. First off, in the Hmong culture back in the days, Hmong women are to be quiet and wait for the men. Hmong men usually do the courting (e.g: by going to her house and talking to her in the day while she’s doing embroidery and go to her house, talk to her through her bedroom wall, going to do farming with her, etc.) Hmong women are expected to stay home and are not recommended to go out and search for her soulmate. So if a Hmong woman likes a Hmong man that courts her, she can’t just say it out loud or beg him to come. She sits around and wait for him to come see her. If he doesn’t, she’s not recommended to search for him either. Her job is to do house chores or go farm. Men don’t really do chores so they have the time to go look and help the woman that interest them.

Because this is in our culture, it is a very common situations. It’s not only common with Hmong woman who just met with the man of her dream, but also with loving Hmong couples.

Back then [in Laos], the Hmong have little villages. Some villages are close, while some are far (by far, it takes a few days to reach the other village. This is all by foot). Hmong men are allowed to court girls from any village. Some choose not to court girls from their village, but to expand their search for the perfect bride, thus going to other villages to court other girls. Long distance relationships occur this way. In the music video, they are depicting this. A man from a faraway village and the woman fell in love. Sometimes, there are hardships to this long distance relationship as we all know. Being a Hmong man is not easy. Hmong men are expected to hunt, provide for the family, keep up the family’s honor, learn Hmong traditional practices, etc. At times, they cannot neglect their duty as a son or a man to serve their family or community. This cause them to not be able to go see their girlfriend in the other village.

At the beginning, when the man starts to court the woman, he will have more time for her. He will spend a lot of time with her because he will be at the village for a while before he heads home. But after he goes home, it will take him a while to get back because of his duties. This will make the woman feel like she has been forgotten and she will be very sad over this.

Not only is this a common situation, but Hmong people also have stories and folklores based on this situation.
This story has been told generations after generations and has been one of the most popular Hmong horror story.

The popular Hmong horror folklore is called by many names, but a movie has been filmed for this folklore. The movie is call Nkauj Nyab (Bride or The Awaiting Bride).

“An ancient ghost story of two young lovers Pajsua and Pobzeb played. This is the most talked about ghost story of all time by our parents and grandparents. The story you heard was sad and scary, but what you’re about to experience on your screen will haunt your soul like never before. When distance and cultural values tear their love apart, their relationship was forced to take an unexpected direction. This new direction comes with even greater fear and challenges. It will change the way we view relationships forever”--Container

Another summary:

Based on a Hmong folk story, the girlfriend died when the boyfriend was away. The whole village was empty except the dead girlfriend. Upon returning home, the boyfriend visited her without knowing of her death until the middle of the night. He ran away and was chased by his dead girlfriend.
-HmongABC

The girlfriend waited for the boyfriend. They had promised to be together, even after death. So that’s what she did. She waited for him, even after death. She was his “awaiting bride”.

Not only was this type of story in that horror movie, but it is also in Nuj Nplhaib thiab Ntxawm (Nu ___ and Yer), another popular folklore of the Hmong people.

Summary:

Nuj nplhaib and Ntxawm are lovers, the village brags about how pretty Ntxawm is.
The tigers hear and one tiger goes to visit her at night and transforms into Nuj Nplhiab to be able to get to know her.

*In Laos [Hmong culture], if you talk/date a ghost/tiger then you will be taken by them*

It goes on for a while until one day, she found out that Nuj Nplhaib hasn’t been visiting her. She knew she was talking to a ghost/tiger.

Nuj Nplaib has to go somewhere for a wedding, Ntxawm tells Nuj Nplaib for them to get married.
He says, they will after the new year or something. [Also, he’s a skilled Hmong flute player. He had been asked to attend a wedding and send off the bride, therefore he had to delay his wedding with Ntxawm.]

He goes and then Ntxawm gets sick and dies. [Her spirit got taken by the tiger]. He [Nuj Nplhiab] finds out that Ntxawm dies and then goes after her, helps her and kills the tiger, who is her husband.

-YM_gurl 

Because of Nuj Nplaib’s duties, he neglected his love life. In the story, Ntxawm kept on telling him to marry her, but he kept on pushing it back due to his duties. Also in Hmong culture, any man is free to associate with a woman of their interest, regardless if she already have someone she likes or not. And then it depends on who come marry her first, either by asking for her hand in marriage or bride-napping. In this case, the Tiger got Ntxawm while Nuj Nplaib was gone.

So don’t let it be too late to spend time with the ones you love, female or male…

A thank you and shoutout to Dib Xwb for singing and producing this song. I don’t know if she knows but this have such a significant connection to the Hmong culture and that’s why I love this song so much!

I hope you enjoyed the read. Do ask questions for clarification!

❤ Falada

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