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- Riches for the rich and an asses’ tail for the poor
- Patience and wisdom are destroyed by sorrow
There were once five brothers. Four were blacksmiths and one was a donkey-driver. The four brothers who were blacksmiths decided among themselves to kill the donkey driver whose name was Khehlok jaghad, which means crazy bald man in Armenian. They would be free of his annoying presence and his miserable life would be ended. Crazy Bald had left earlier in the day to fetch dry wood in the forest. While plying his way, he stopped at the house of a rich man and borrowed three gold coins.
Later, Crazy Bald returned to the blacksmith shop of his brothers. He hid the three pieces of gold in the butt of the ass. When he entered the brother’s workshop, the ass passed excrement on the floor in front of everyone. Crazy Bald put his hand into the warm excrement as if he was looking for something.
“Amazing” said one brother to the other. “Look, look! Our bald brother is crazy. He’s looking for something of value in the crap of the ass and he actually found three gold coins. Let’s purchase his ass so that we can get the gold coins everyday. We need such an ass so that we don’t have to work likes asses ourselves to earn a living.”
The next day, at evening time, all four blacksmith brothers went to see Crazy Bald who was not home. After a short time, Crazy Bald returned to find his brothers waiting for him. The four brothers asked Crazy Bald to sell them his ass.
“May your homes be torn apart (duhn-ut kahntuhvee – an Armenian imprecation often used by villagers),” said Crazy Bald. You saw that the ass shits two or three gold coins everyday. You’re thinking that I am crazy enough to sell you the ass so you all can become rich. Is that why you have come to see me?”
“Not at all,” replied the four brothers. “We have a few debts here and there, and we need a pack animal. It is only for these urgent reasons that we want to buy the ass.”
“Okay, Okay,” said Crazy Bald. “Agreed, I’ll sell you the ass. Give me twenty scrotums (a scrotum is the testicle bag; this is a figurative way to refer to a male ass).
“My God,” chimed the brothers. “You are asking too much! But since you insist, we agree.” They gave him twenty male asses. In return, they asked Crazy Bald to explain how to take care of the ass so that it will shit frequently.
He replied, “Give the ass enough hay and grains for eight days. If the ass eats everything before the seventh day, put more provisions for it.
The four brothers did as they were advised. They re-provisioned the donkey on the third day as it finished the previous supplies. On the eighth day, they tried to open the door of the stable, but it wouldn’t open. They looked at each other and smiled. They were convinced the ass must have shit a big pile of gold, so much that the door wouldn’t open.
They called a carpenter to unhinge the door of the stable. He came and opened the door and lo and behold, the ass was dead of a bloated stomach. The four brothers were furious. They became determined to murder Crazy Bald. Arriving at Crazy Bald’s dwelling, they looked everywhere. They found his wife, but he was not there.
Before the eighth day, Crazy Bald went up into a forested mountainside and trapped two wild rabbits that looked exactly alike. He left one with his wife and took the other with him. He told his wife, “When my brothers come looking for me, let them see you talk to the rabbit and say, “Go and fetch my husband on the mountainside” She did as he said in front of the brothers. When she let the rabbit free, it ran and hopped right up the mountainside as he was ordered to do.
A short time later, Crazy Bald came back down the mountain holding a rabbit that looked exactly like the one his wife sent with a message to call him back. His brothers were stunned by the rapid and obedient rabbit. There were no telephones yet in the Armenian villages of Cicilia. Such a messenger rabbit was a marvel. So the brothers forgot about killing Crazy Bald and inquired how they could have the rabbit to replace the donkey that died.
Crazy Bald dickered with them by insisting that they should give him five scrotums for the miraculous messenger rabbit. They reluctantly agreed.
One of the brothers had a debtor in a distant village that he had not heard from for months. He tied a small bag on the rabbit’s neck with a message to his debtor. The message read, “This is my messenger rabbit. Please treat him to some good grass and water. Then please place the amount of two gold coins that you owe me in the small back on his neck and order him to bring them back to me.” He took the rabbit out of its cage and held it in his hands while another brother tied the bag to its neck. The rabbit was squirming like anything trying to get away. The brother talked to it, “Now go to the village called Hadjin and find the house Toros demerji (iron forger). Then wait for his instructions. The rabbit twitched his nose and moved its ears. The brother took that as a yes answer and then let it loose. The rabbit ran as fast at it could up the mountainside and disappeared.
The brothers waited nearly one month without seeing the rabbit return from Hadjin. They realized that were tricked again by their Crazy Bald. This time they were determined to kill him without being conned again by his quirky tricks.
Crazy Bald understood that his brothers were planning to kill him. He went to the public market and purchased sheep guts (intestines). He had the butcher fill them with fresh blood of a lamb and came home. He asked his wife to wrap the intestines full of blood around her belly and cover them with her dress. He asked her not to go to bed, but wait and see if his brothers paid a visit. If they did, he would invite them into the house. He would start an argument with her in front of his brothers. Gradually, he would become more and more angry; then grab her and stab her with a knife in the belly. He asked her to pretend that she was mortally wounded. His brothers would see the lamb’s blood squirt all over the room and she would scream and faint as if dead.
Once she seemed dead, Crazy Bald explained he would come up to her body and blow on a ram’s horn into her ear. “When you hear me blow on the ram’s horn,” said Crazy Bald, “rise up with a smile and praise Jesus for bringing you back from death.”
That night his four brothers came knocking on the door of his house. Their purpose was to kill him. He let them in. Crazy Bald began to argue with his wife in front of the brothers. He became very angry and started to shout because she became stubborn and talked back. Then, he ran toward her and plunged a knife into her belly. She screamed and grabbed her belly. Her blood squirted everywhere in the living room.
The four brothers were shocked and shouted at Crazy Bald, “Why did you kill your wife!” Crazy Bald smiled and walked up to his wife and blew the ram’s horn into her ear. She came back to life and smiled and begged forgiveness from her husband for talking back to him. The four brothers were puzzled by what happened and fascinated by the ram’s horn. They looked at each other and said, “We need a ram’s horn like that to teach our wives a lesson. They have a stubborn streak and talk harshly to us sometimes. If they do that again we can kill them and cut their heads off, then blow the ram’s horn and bring them back to life. They will become humble and be listen to what we say.”
Crazy Bald sold his magical ram’s horn for two scrotums. The eldest brother took the horn first and went home to his wife. He started a fight with her for no reason. She became very agitated and talked back to him for his mean words. He said, ‘Why don’t you listen to me and stop talking back, you crazy lady. You’re going to die now.” He grabbed her frightened body and threw her on the ground and cut her throat.
His children were horrified and let out wailing cries. The father smiled and told them not to be worried. He was going to bring mommy back to life. He blew into the ram’s horn pointing it in his wife’s ear. Nothing happened. She lay there dead as a doornail, her head severed from her body. The elder brother was furious. He called the other brothers. They were tricked again by Crazy Bald. But, this time they were more than determined to kill him without any more diversions by his tricks.
They rushed to his house. One of the brothers suggested that they torture him before they kill him. They agreed. They grabbed Crazy Bald and took him up a steep hill overlooking the ocean. They tied him to a tree and put a cloth sack over his head. They began to strike him one after the other. They left him there to suffer all night with the expectation that the next day they would come back and throw him into the ocean to drown. There was no hope of Crazy Bald to survive.
During the night, a sheepherder with his small flock of forty sheep came up the trail to let his sheep spend the night on the high hill and graze on the grass. Crazy Bald herd the sounds of the herd and understood that a lone sheepherder was close. He began to cry, “I’ll never marry the king’s daughter no matter how much they torture me.” Never , never.”
The sheepherder was amazed hearing the impassioned cries of Crazy Bald.
He said, “Brother, I’ll marry her any day. You have to be a fool to refuse to marry the king’s daughter.”
“Brother sheepherder,” said Crazy Bald, “I love someone else. I can never marry the king’s daughter. But, if you want to, then let’s change places. You untie me and I’ll tie you in my place with this sack over your head. At, dawn, the king’s men will come and ask you if you changed your mind. Just say yes, I’ll marry her. And they will let you free and honor you as the new prince. You will enjoy a life of royal pleasures with the beautiful princess. What do you say?”
The naïve sheepherder said yes. He unties Crazy Bald and let himself be tied by him to the tree with the sack over his head. The sheepherder gave his sheep to Crazy Bald who left congratulating him on his good fortune.
The next morning, the four brothers came and began to immediately pound who they thought was Crazy Bald under the sack. The sheepherder cried out that he wanted to marry the king’s daughter. The four brothers thought that Crazy Bald had really gone mad by suffering all night. They beat him to a pulp and dragged him to the edge of the precipice and threw him into the deep sea below to drown.“ Good riddance,” they chimed in unison and went back to their village to lament the death of the elder brother’s wife.
After a month’s time, Crazy Bald entered the village with his herd of thirty sheep and stood outside his brother’s blacksmith shop. The four brothers could not believe their eyes on seeing Crazy Bald. They were certain that he died by drowning in the sea. Yet, he was standing there smiling and apparently prosperous with a herd of sheep.
Crazy Bald said, “May tragedy befall all of you! Why did you throw me so close to the shoreline. If you had hurled me father out to drown, I would have receive more sheep as a blessing. That particular high hill overlooking the sea was once the hermitage of a holy man. He prayed that Jesus bless any person who throws themselves off that precipice to drown in the sea. The blessing is that they will not die, but receive as many sheep as the number of feet they fall from the shoreline. I only fell thirty feet from the shore and received only thirty sheep.”
The four brothers looked at one another. They were enticed by Crazy Bald’s tall tale. But, they could not disbelieve him because they threw him over the precipice into the sea below. No man could possibly survive such a steep fall into the deep waters of the sea from that height. They envy for Crazy Bald and their greed for wealth blinded their thoughts. They ran home and told their wives and children. The wives came running to the precipice with their children and relatives. On seeing Crazy Bald alive, they also believed his story. He helped them all jump as far into the water as possible. In the excitement, Crazy Bald’s wife also jumped before he could stop her.
Thus greed and the passion for wealth can completely blind a person’s rational sense and lead to tragedy. What appears to be true may not be true. In fact, most people strive for one illusory hope after another based on their own greed and lust for wealth and power.
A lonely person once met a holy man. He begged the saint to teach him wisdom by which he could overcome his loneliness and become content with his life. The saint advised him to love God with all his heart and soul. The lonely man said, “How can I love God when I have never seen Him. I don’t know anything tangible about Him.”
The saint asked the lonely man if he loved anyone. He answered, “I have no one in my life that I love. My only comfort is the companionship of a little lamb that I care for because its mother was killed by wolves. For some unknown reason, the wolves left the lamb unharmed.”
The saint said, “Love the little creature with all your heart and soul, and remember that God spared the lamb. The saint left.
The lonely man pondered the words of the saint. He tended the lamb with care and affection convinced that God spared the life of the lamb to fill the void in his life. After five years, the saint returned to find the lonely man again. He was curious to know if he was satisfied with his life. The man greeted the saint with a contented smile and warm greetings. He honored the saint with kind words and offered him food and drink. The saint noticed that the man seemed transformed. His eyes were no longer sad. He spoke with a joyful tone.
The man explained he was no longer lonely because he followed the saint’s instructions. He cared for the lamb as he would his own child and meditated on the miracle of how the lamb escaped the fate of his mother. He thought about the mysterious ways God arranges events in life. Eventually with his changed temperament he developed faith in the protective hand of God. He began to thank God everyday for filling the terrible void in his life. His continual recognition of the grace of the Almighty evolved into a genuine feeling of love for God. After all, it was God who provided him with the helpless lamb which opened his eyes to the Divine’s mysterious ways.
naiyeh vor eemashdoun uhllas, paiytz duhkehd yehrehvnahl sohrveh
khouhluh hahghtehr eh shadakhouseen
ahsduhdzoh ahckuh vohr kaghtzur leehnee, madaghee kahruhn eerahn vodkov goukah tourrut
douhr mee apsohsahr
ahr mee ahmahncheer
meenchev yehrekhan chee lah, maiyruh dzeedz chee dah
kahchalhuh mahz pousnehl jahr ounehnahr , eer kuhlougheen vuhrah mahz gahvelhnahr
There was once an arborist or tree scientist and an ordinary man who showed him an apricot orchard. The tree specialist was sent to examine and quantify the number of apricot trees commercially exploited in Armenia. He began to count the trees, examine their leaves and branches and count the approximate number of ripe apricots still on the trees.
The guide approached the farmer who cared for the trees, spoke with him in a friendly way and asked permission to eat some of the delicious ripe fruits. The farmer gave his approval and the guide began to enjoy the best Armenian apricots. The tree scientist spent his time in counting and recording while the guide enjoyed the nutritious Armenian apricots.
Life should be lived, tasted, digested and lessons learned from experience rather than trying to quantify it or vicariously experience it through others. One can learn from others. Still, one needs to experience the best parts of life such as the taste, color and texture of the Armenian apricot.
Of the two, the scientist and the ordinary man, which one was the wiser. Certainly, the scientist is expert at quantifying the material world and trying to discover already existing laws of nature. By understanding such laws, the scientist can manipulate a tiny portion of matter and energy to serve the whims of people for a fee. This serves the purpose of making life seem easier by empowering man with the ability to harness some of nature’s power for selfish pursuits. But, every scientific advancement brings a new set of problems as well as benefits.
The intellectual or scientist busies himself with trying to find out the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of creation so he can mimic it imperfectly. The humble man of natural wisdom makes friends with the Creator or originator of creation and receives the blessing of the Supreme Scientist by savoring the Armenian apricot. Observing and counting is not the same as appreciating the Creator and His creation and feasting on the natural opulence. A plastic apricot is not the same as the real apricot.
The apricot is reputed to have originated in Armenia because it was spread throughout the western world as a cultivated fruit tree from Armenia beginning in ancient times. Its official botanical name is Prunus armeniaca (it literally means the plum from Armenia). The Armenian apricot grown in the Ararat valley is reputed to be the most delicious. It has a tender yellow reddish skin and as soon as one bites it, a honey like sweet liquid is tasted. The ripe one is like a heavenly nectar.
Armenian apricots have medicinal benefits due to carotenoids which are dark colored dyes that the body can turn into a form of vitamin A. One such carotenoid is beta-carotene which is an antioxidant. Apricots contain protein, calcium, iron, vitamin K, zinc, potassium, fiber and folic acid. Vitamin A maintains healthy teeth, bones, skin, soft tissue, and promotes good vision. They not only taste good, but they are good because God is all good.
shouhnuh yehv geerkkohd tzahngoutiounuh
There was and there wasn’t a man who loved his pet dog. He would spend all his spare time with his dog. Taking the dog for a walk, picking up its droppings, going to the dog salon for baths and special treatment, spending a lot of money on special diet foods, playing with the dog, carrying it in his arms and kissing it. He would let the dog eat off his own plate and would sleep with the dog in his bed. He was obsessed with the dog. A priest noticed the man’s attachment to the dog. He tried to convince the dog lover that his affection was misplaced. After all, the dog was just an animal whose loyalty and seeming affection was only due to the man regularly feeding it. If the man stop feeding the dog, he would eventually leave and find a new master. The man stopped fondling the dog and ignored it. At first, the dog could not understand the man’s change of attitude. It tried to approach the man and receive his affectionate treatment, but he pushed it away and even struck it with a whip to make his point.
The man kept the dog in his back yard without any shelter and purposely left the fence door open. He stopped feeding it. Eventually the dog left and never came back.
The dog represents our lust for sense enjoyment that requires exploiting someone or something for our personal benefit. When we stop pandering to lusty desires and ignore them, then eventually with determination such desires for material pleasures subside. Material lust can then be transformed or redirected to spiritual love for God and His creation. At that point, we experience a much greater spiritual pleasure devoid of the attempt to dominate and exploit material things or relationships for personal gain. One becomes a giver rather than a taker because of the certainty of God’s guidance and protection.