Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • There was and there wasn’t a jobless man who had a beautiful wife. The almighty God knows that all mortal men are fallible, but a good woman is priceless. Alas, if a woman is beautiful, she is followed by the eyes of covetous men who know no morality, shame , or compunction when lust overwhelms their senses.

    The jobless man decided to leave home and seek employment in foreign lands to support his wife and children.
    His wife had no choice but to agree since his prospect for finding work in their village was nearly hopeless.

    He requested his younger brother to watch over his wife and family while he was away. The younger brother moved into the house of his older brother. Normally blood is thicker than wine so the older brother was convinced he could trust his younger brother to protect his family in his absence.

    The older brother became a traveling journeyman working odd jobs and trying his best to earn money. He endured many hardships and suffered the loneliness of a stranger in foreign lands.

    His younger brother, however, lived contentedly with his brother’s family. He was served by his brother’s wife who toiled like a maid servant
    cleaning, cooking, washing and doing all the chores to make him comfortable. He also tried many times to seduce his brother’s attractive wife, but she politely rebuffed him every time and maintained her decorum. Three difficult and long years passed until the husband wrote that he was returning home with his hard earned money.

    When the expectant day arrived, the younger brother met his brother at some distance from the house and greeted him warmly. The elder brother was very anxious to have news of his family. He inquired, “How are my children and how is my wife?”

    “How could you marry such a woman,” answered the younger brother. “She is not a respectable woman worthy of such a faithful husband as you. I am sorry to tell you this but you will find out sooner or later anyway.”

    The elder brother was shocked and remained sullen.

    On arriving home, he was pleased to see his children. His wife prepared a grand welcome for him. She did everything to respect and please him. She bathed his feet, gave him fresh clothes, and served him a wonderful dinner. He remained quiet and pensive.

    During the dinner, some street kids threw rocks and other debris at the house and catcalled nasty names directed at the wife. This was arranged by the younger brother who bribed the street kids to act in this reprehensible way. He pretended to run out of the house and pursue them. Coming back, he looked at his elder brother as if to say, you see, even the street kids know she is a disrespectable woman.

    After this incident, the husband remained dour. His wife could not understand why he was so gloomy.

    Several days passed and the husband became more and more somber. He sat in a corner and from time to time gave her a menacing look.
    Then one day he asked his wife to take a walk in the woods near the house. When they were alone and far away from the village, he murdered his wife brutally. He left her body to be eaten by the wild animals.

    God ordained that a spring of fresh water with miraculous powers of rejuvenation appear not far away.

    A traveling merchant and his caravan camped nearby that night. His attendants discovered the fresh water spring.
    Everyone of the seasoned caravaners were surprised as they had never noticed such a wonderful spring of water in that area.
    They also discovered the dead body of the woman not far away. The merchant wondered why the young woman had been murdered so brutally and left to be devoured by wild animals. He decided to bury the body after dinner.

    Using water from the spring, the merchant and his men boiled salted trout in a pot for dinner. They were shocked to see the trout come alive and leap out of the pot. It was a miracle. They understood that the water from the spring had miraculous powers of rejuvenation. The merchant went to splash some of the water on the dead body of the murdered woman to see if it could revive her. To his utter amazement she sat up whole and alive. The merchant and his men were stuck with wonder seeing her alive and well.

    The merchant began to question the woman. “Who murdered you so brutally? What is your name?”

    She told her sad tale about how her husband butchered her with a knife. She cried as she described her story.

    The merchant tried to comfort her. He offered to marry her on the spot and care for her and make her happy.

    The woman insisted she was already married and it would be unfaithful to marry another man.
    The merchant reminded her that her husband had murdered her. He exhorted her to reconsider.
    She insisted that she could not even think of such a possibility.

    He became outraged. He ordered his men to dig a large hole in the ground and throw her in it. Then cover it with a large
    stone so that she couldn’t get out. The merchant and the caravan left after imprisoning her in the deep hole. She cried and screamed to no avail.

    Some days later, another traveling caravan camped nearby. The men heard the murmuring and cries of the woman from a distance. They searched and found her in the covered hole. They uncovered the hole and freed her from the makeshift dungeon. When she was brought before the
    leader of the second caravan in her distraught condition, he could see that she was an attractive young woman. He asked her who she was and how she came to be entrapped in the deep hole. She explained her sad tale.

    “Your troubles will end today,” he said. “Be my wife and I will always protect and comfort you.”

    “Thank you, sir, for you offer. But, I am already married,” she said.

    “That is absurd. Your husband murdered you and left you to be eaten by the wild animals,” he said.

    “That is true, but I still cannot violate my vow of marriage,” she said.

    “I saved you from that covered hell. You will be my woman whether you like it or not,” said the merchant with a determined look.

    Feeling frail and weakened by her ordeal, she begged him to please be more gentle with her and allow her to eat something and at least wash her face and comb her hair. He put his arms around her and tried to kiss her. She resisted his embraces and again pleaded that she needed to eat and take care of her bodily needs. The merchant permitted her to eat. When she finished she asked if she could relieve herself so she could feel comfortable. Seeing her weak condition and considering it was late at night in the dense forest, he let her alone for a few minutes to look to her bodily needs. She mustered her strength and ran into the deep forest. After some minutes the merchant became suspicious and began to search for her. She somehow disappeared into the dark night.

    He screamed, “You foolish wench, I will find you tomorrow half frozen and frightened in this forest of wild animals. Come back now.” He was answered by the silence of the forest.

    She ran desperately with a new found energy until she distanced herself and then proceeded with as much caution possible in the dark forest. Fortunately, she was able to find her way without any serious mishaps although she bruised herself and lost her shawl to a thorny bushed. She
    continued until she collapsed.

    The next day, she was awakened by a strange looking man who was staring at her. She was frightened out of her wits.
    He was a shepherd who didn’t waste any time. He said she must submit to him and become his wife. Seeing her helpless condition, he tried to embrace her. With her last reserve of energy, she resisted his advances and screamed. His dogs began to bark and his flock of sheep brayed restlessly. The shepherd left her for a moment to calm his sheep. She took the opportunity to run away. Fortunately, there was a deep river with a fast current nearby. Before the shepherd could reach her, she jumped into the dangerous river and was quickly swept away down stream. The shepherd yelled, “I will find you.”

    The woman was swept swiftly by the strong currents. She was barely managing to not drown by holding on to a large branch of a tree that was also floating alongside her. A fisherman caught sight of her. He ran alongside the stream and managed to throw her a rope. She grabbed the rope and was pulled to safety. The woman was exhausted, cold, and frightened. The fisherman carried her back to his home where his mother bathed her, gave her some clothes and made her a hot soup. She was amazed by the kindness and stayed bundled in a blanket near the fire. She thanked them over and over again and thanked God with prayers for her amazing rescue.

    The fisherman asked her many questions. She related her whole, sad story. He seemed very interested in her.
    Finally, he said, “Why don’t you marry me, dear woman. I don’t have a wife. I will care for you.”

    “But I am married. It would be improper for me to marry you,” she said. ” Please listen to me. Your mother can bare witness.
    Let me stay here like a sister and you be my brother. I will serve your mother and you very faithfully. If you respect my vow, I am sure all good fortune will come upon you and your mother.”

    The kind fisherman and his mother agreed.

    True to her words, the poor fisherman’s fortunes changed from that day. His catches improved. Then, one day he fished up a bag of precious pearls.
    He was not sure of their value. He took some of them to the town jeweller and asked for an appraisal. The cautious and wily merchant offered him fifty gold pieces for each. The fisherman gave a puzzled look as if he did not hear the offer. The jeweler mistook this for a refusal and upped the offer to one hundred pieces. Again, the jeweler acted hesitantly as if to refuse. The jeweler kept raising the offer until he said five hundred. The fisherman finally shook his head to accept and sold all the pearls he brought with him for five hundred gold pieces each.

    He returned home with more money than he had ever had in his life. His mother and new sister were amazed by his good fortune. He returned to the town the next day and sold all the pearls. He was a very rich man now. After reaching his home, he asked his sister what he should do with such wealth. He was concerned that the news would attract the attention of thieves. She suggested that he spend the money to build a large house with a vast storage shed. He could then, purchase wheat from the poor farmers in the area, thus sharing his wealth with many of his poor neighbors who would also protect and appreciate him. Then, he could store the grain in his shed and always have plenty to eat. He agreed to her intelligent plan. All his neighbors were delighted by his generous offer. They gladly sold their wheat at a fair price.

    There was a terrible drought and famine the next year. People were dying of hunger because nearly all the crops failed. The fisherman was worried again because his storage was still full of a vast reserve of grains from the previous year. He was afraid the starving people would turn against him to save their lives. He asked his sister what he should do. She suggested that he generously open his reserves of wheat and give it out in charity to the starving people. The people would again appreciate and protect him from harm. He agreed. She helped him organize the daily distribution of wheat to the starving masses. She dressed herself in man’s clothing so as to disguise her youthful beauty and donned a large hat to cover her hair and part of her face. Many people came and no one left without ample grain to sustain their family in distress.

    One day she saw the shepherd and the two merchants who tried to marry her. She served them and then asked them to wait in a room for more rations. Then she saw her husband. He did not recognize her. She gave him rations and also asked him to step into the room with the others.None of them realized that the man giving away the rations was a woman who they all knew very well. She entered the room and began to question the four men.

    She explained to the men that she wanted to invite them for dinner. She realized they were all suffering from the famine. Everyday she asked a certain number of people of her choice to dine as a gesture of brotherhood. Today, she had chosen them. She served them very sumptuous food and drink. After hours of food and drink, she made a request.

    “Let us entertain each other by telling stories of strange events that we have witnessed in our lives.” She asked the merchants to speak first as they had traveled extensively.

    The first merchant began. “I once camped my caravan of goods in a forested area. It was a place I had frequented before. There was, however, a spring of fresh water that had appeared recently. We gathered water in a pot to cook our salted dry fish. We were astonished when the fish came alive in the pot and jumped out of the pot. The water had some miraculous curative power. We tried to find the source of the new spring. While searching we found the dead body of a young woman. I felt an impulse to pour water on the dead body to test the water. To my utter amazement, the woman sat up healed of her ghastly wounds. She explained how her husband murdered her. I felt an immediate attraction to her and asked her to marry me. She insisted that she was already married so marrying me was out of the question. Her response seemed absurd especially since her lawful husband had murdered her. I insisted and she persisted. Finally, I became outraged by her stubborn will. I ordered my workers to dig a deep and narrow hole. I threw the woman in the hole and covered it with a large rock so that she would certainly die. She screamed and screamed as we left.” The first merchant fell silent.

    The second merchant began to relate a strange happening in his experience. He was visibly shaken by the first merchants narration. “This is very strange and coincidental because I also encountered that same woman. my caravan arrived in that same place with the fresh water spring . After making our camp, we heard the murmuring and occasional screams for help of that woman. My men and I
    removed the large rock from the hole and we found a very beautiful woman deep in the hole. We somehow were able to pull her up to safety. I asked about her identity and her story. She told us all her troubles while crying softly in her pitiable and exhausted state. I was immediately attracted to her beauty. I told her she need not worry anymore because I wanted to marry her and take her as my wife. She refused. I held her forcibly in my arms and tried to kiss her but she resisted. She begged me to let her eat and drink something and take care of her bodily needs. I relented and gave her food and drink. It was late at night. She excused herself for a short moment to care for her body. I warned her that it was dark and dangerous to try to escape. I waited a short while and then went out to bring her back. She had run deep into the forest. I shouted to her that she would certainly not survive the night in the dangerous forest. The next morning I found her shawl on a thorny bush. I never saw her again.”

    Next, the shepherd began to speak. He also started by noting that he also met that strange and beautiful woman. He found her sleeping under a tree in a collapsed and exhausted state one morning. He was grazing his herd in a pasture-like field in the wild forest. When he woke her up, she was startled and afraid. He asked her who she was and how she came to be alone in the wild forest. She slowly explained her sad tale. He could see that she was young and beautiful. He asked her to be his wife and he would care for her. She adamantly refused because she insisted she was already married. The shepherder said, “I held her in my arms, but she screamed so loudly that my dogs began to bark and the sheep bolted. Seeing my sheep running away, I left her for a moment to tend to them. She immediately ran away. I chased her until she came to a deep and swift flowing stream. She jumped into the dangerous stream and was sweep swiftly downstream. I don’t think she survived that current. I couldn’t follow her.”

    Seeming visibly shaken, the husband began to speak. He looked nervously at the host and the the other guests. He began by saying, “I was the husband of that woman. She was very beautiful, but I was lead to doubt her faithfulness. There was a time when I couldn’t find any work. I decided to travel to foreign lands to earn money for my family. I entrusted my brother to live with my family while I earned money abroad. After three long years, I came back with my earnings. My brother told me my wife was unfaithful to me during those years of absence. I couldn’t even talk to her because of my burning anger. I murdered her in the forest and left her body to be eaten by the animals. Later, I learned that she was always faithful to me. I have been suffering all these years with my sinful act weighing on my mind.” He broke down crying.

    “Do you think you could recognize your wife if she was alive today,” said the host. The husband looked about and said, “How could such a thing be possible?”

    The host left the room. She changed her disguise and returned dreesed as a woman along with the fisherman and his mother. All the men could see her womanly beauty. The two merchants and the shepherder were shocked to see her alive. Her husband nearly fainted. He begged her for forgiveness over and over again.

    “I have always been a faithful wife to you. For this reason, God protected me and finally lead me to this kind family that has given me shelter and safety. I am still you wife and I forgive you,” she said tearfully.

    The other men felt ashamed of their lustful desires for this good woman. They begged for forgiveness. She forgave them as well and gave them plentiful amounts of more grain to withstand the famine. As they left she wished them all well, “astduhvahdz hehduht muhnah yev kehz bahahbahn ullah. May God go with you and always protect you,” she said.

    After they left, she spoke to her husband. “You must be the judge of your brother. I cannot say anything.”

    He betrayed you and me,” said the husband.

    “I have a suggestion,” said the wife. Bring our children here. We can live peacefully with the fisherman and his mother with ease and carefree.
    God has blessed him with good fortune and He will bless us too,” said the wife.

    The husband returned to his home and gathered his belongings and the children. He forbade his brother from ever
    coming in his presence again and left. returning to his wife, she embraced her children with flowing tears and thanked God that they were united again as a family. They lived peacefully the rest of their lives.

    Three apples fell from heaven: one for the narrator, one for the listener and one for the person who can appreciate the glories of a faithful woman.

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  • The intelligent judge

    One night a wolf fell into a hole in the ground set as a trap by a hunter. The wolf began to howl,
    “Help, help.”

    A sheep came to see what happened. The wolf pleaded with the sheep to help him get free.

    “No,” said the sheep, “if I free you, you will eat me.”
    “I swear honorably that I will not hurt you at all.”

    The sheep believed the wolf and helped him get out of the hole.

    When the wolf got out of the trap he said.
    “You saved my life from danger. Now you will save me from hunger.”

    “But you gave your word of honor not to hurt me,” said the sheep.

    “I am a meat eater,” said the wolf. “What else can I do but eat you.”

    The sheep understood that there was no way to free itself. Just then, the sheep saw a dog

    “Oh wise dog, I beg you to become our judge,” said the sheep.

    The dog heard both of their claims and said.

    “How can I believe that you both told the truth. You must reinact the events so
    that I can see with my own eyes what happened.

    The wolf jumped into the trap again and begged the sheep to help him.

    “Oh greedy predator, wait until the hunter comes,” said the dog. Both the dog and the sheep went away.

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  • The three bulls

    Three bulls were always together for safety and might.
    They always grazed in the same pasture day and night.
    They weren’t afraid of wolves, they were not shy to fight
    One day, however, they argued and one another did slight

    They each went their own way, no longer friends but foes
    Their unity was broken, they almost came to blows
    They forgot the true adage, United we stand, divided we fall
    A pack of wolves came, killed them one by one, ate them all

    The evil wolf came and smiled in delight.
    The bulls went apart from each other.
    Seeing the bulls each alone, the wolf easily killed them one by one and ate them.

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  • vahkruh yehv ahghvehssuh

    ahnohtee vahkruh vohrss guh puhnduhrehr. ahghvehss muh puhrnetz
    A hungry tiger was looking for prey. He caught a fox.

    toun chehss guhrnahr zees oudehl, uhsahv aghvehssuh
    “You cannot eat me,” said the fox.
    “Why,” said the tiger
    meetheh toun chehss keedehr aiyt
    “Perhaps you don’t know why,” said the fox.
    “No, I don’t,” said the tiger.

    vohr aiytbehss eh. yehghour yehrthahnk, yehv toun beedee dehssnehss teh eenchbes pohlohr
    gehntaheenehruh sahssdeek vaghtzahdz guh pakhcheen eentzmeh, uhsahv ahghvehssuh
    “It is like this. Come, let’s go and you will see how all the forest animals are
    horribly frightened and run away from me,” said the fox.

    yehv ahnohnk meeahsseen katzeen ahndahruh.
    And they went together into the forest.

    eerok pohlohr kahzahnnehruh guh pakhcheheen.
    In effect, all the wild animals fled on sight.

    paiytz vahkruh chee hahguhtzahv vohr ahnonk eermeh guh vakhnahyeen.
    But the tiger did not understand that they (the animals) were afraid of him.

    ahn gahrdzehtz teh pohlohruh ahghvehessehn guh vakhnahyeen, eehnkuhn ahl toghoutz ahghvehessuh yehv hehratzahv
    He thought that all(the animals) were afraid of the fox. He also left the fox and went away.

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  • The roots and stalks

    ahrchuh parehgamatzahv kuughatzeeee muh hehd
    A bear became friends with a villager.
    ahnohnk voroshetzeen shoghkahm tzahner
    They decided to plant turnips.
    kuughatzeen uhsahv
    The villager said.
    ahrmahnehruh eentzee, tzoghounnehruh kehzee.
    “The roots for me and the stalks for you.”
    togh kou uhsahdzut uhllah, uhsahv ahrchuh
    “So let it be as you have said,” said the bear.
    yehgahv ahsounuh.
    It became fall.

    kuughatzeen ahrahv ahrmahdnehruh, eeshk tzoghounnehruh ahrahv ahrchuh.
    The villager got the roots and the bear got the stalks.
    ahrchuh muhrtmuhrtahtz, paiytz eench guhrnahr uhnehr
    The bear grumbled, but what could he do.

    hahtchohrt dahreen kuughatzeen uhsahv ahrcheen.
    The next year the villager said to the bear.
    yehgour nohrehn meeahseen tzahnehnk
    “Come let us plant together again.”
    hahmahtzaiyn yehm. Meeaiyn teh aiys ahnkahm toun ahr tzoghounnehruh , eeshk
    ahrmahdnehruh eendzee douhr, uhsahv ahrchuh
    “I agree. But this time you take the stalks and you give me the roots,” said the bear.
    sahd aghehk. ahys ahnkahm ahl togh kou ouzadzut uhllah, uhsahv kuughatzeen.
    “Very good. So this time let it be as you have said,” said the villager.

    yehv ahnohnk tzahnetzeen tzohrehn yehv ahrahd pehrk uhsdatzahn.
    And (this time) they planted wheat and had a bountiful harvest.

    kuughatzeen tzoghounnehruhn ahrahv, eeshk ahrchuh tzohrehneen ahrmahdnehruh.
    The villager got the stalks and the bear the wheat roots.

    ahrchuh dehssahv vohr tahrtzyahl khahpvehr eh.
    The bear saw that he was cheated yet again.

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  • An elephant saw an ant and was amazed at how small and frail the ant appeared.

    The ant spoke to the elephant, “It is not clear who is stronger, you or me. But, you can’t
    be the judge.”

    “Then who will judge?”, said the elephant.

    Let’s go see the man, let him be the judge,” said the ant.

    They went together to see the man.

    “To resolve this question it will be necessary to test the strength of each of you,” said the man.

    The elephant lifted a column with his trunk and placed it on top of a wall.

    The ant fetched a cigarette butt

    “Oh big elephant,” said the man, “the ant is stronger than you are. The cigarette butt the ant carried is twenty times more heavy than he is.
    However, the column that you lifted is much lighter than you are.”

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  • Literally, a liar’s feet are very short, they cannot walk a long path.

    More poetically, ” a liars feet are very short (small), they cannot carry him for the long haul.”

    The following story illustrates this proverb.

    One day I returned home very late from my friend’s house.

    “Hraiyr, where were you?”, asked my father.

    I said that I planted two trees.

    The next day, my father came to visit my school. He saw us
    in the playground watering newly planted trees.

    “Hraiyr, which one of the trees did you plant?”, said my father.
    I pointed to two newly planted tree stalks. Then my father stepped close to
    one of my female classmates named Baiytzahr. She pointed to the same two newly planted trees and said, “Uncle, how do you like the new trees that I planted?”

    My father gave me a quick glance and shook his head in disapproval. I felt ashamed and became red faced. I couldn’t say anything.

    When Baiytzahr left, my father said.

    “A liars feet are very short (small), they cannot carry him for the long haul.”

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  • Every flower does not have a fragrance.

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  • ahmahnut eench puhrtehss, tuhkahlut ahn gouh kah

    Literally,whatever you crumble in your plate, your spoon will scoop it up

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  • ahghkahduh ouhnee hahtz ou bahneer, keesheruh kouhnuh chee dahneer

    The poor who have enough bread and cheese will not lose any sleep.

    More poetically, “the poor who have cheese and bread, at night will sleep serenely in bed.”

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  • ahghvehssuh yehrahzeen metch hahv guh dehssnah

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  • ahghvehssuh eer botchuh vuhgah pehrehl eh

    This proverb conveys the meaning that a crafty person like a fox brings his friends to bear false witness to support his deceit.

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  • ahzkeen kehsuh chullahr, mahrtoun kehessuh guhllah

    It is not the nation that is bad, but individuals who are bad

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