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Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • Two men decided to leave their village where they barely earned a living and go to Constantinople. They hoped to work hard and return to their village with enough money to live comfortably for many years.

    The wife of the first man said, “My dearest husband, you will leave me and your children alone for many years. I will not know if you will return. You must promise me one thing.” Her husband promised to do whatever she wanted.

    “When you begin to work, you must promise not to refuse any job even one day, regardless of how hard or how little the pay. Give your solemn word and I will be satisfied to let you go.” He agreed.

    The wife of the second man asked her husband to make a promise before leaving. “Husband, you are leaving me alone with the children and going far away. I want you to promise one thing.”

    “What is it,” he asked.

    “Promise you will not waste your energy doing very low paying jobs. You must earn at least one lira (Turkish money) a day. Then you will earn enough money to return quickly.” He promised.

    Both men left their village for Constantinople. Once they arrived, they began to solicit work every
    morning as day laborers in the marketplace. Businessmen would approach them with menial job offers. The pay was meager, but there were always offers of work. The first man accepted work everyday regardless of the pay. The second man hardly worked at all because the offers were so low.

    After three long years, the first man was ready to return home. He had earned a considerable amount of money. He asked his friend to return with him.

    “How can I return now.” said the second man. “I have not earned enough.”

    “If I return alone, your family will feel discouraged that I have come and you haven’t. I consider you like a brother. I will share the money I have earned with you. Then we can both return with equal earnings,” the first man said.

    “I cannot accept such an offer because you might tell everyone how you gave me half your money out of pity because I was incapable to earn like you,” said the second man. The discussion continued for some time until the first man was able to convince his friend that he would never reveal his generosity. The second man agreed to accept his friend’s offer.

    They prepared to return to their far off village. They spent some of the money to purchase gifts for their families and began their return. After weeks of traveling, they were near the village. The second man had gradually become somber. The first man was very joyful to be so close to seeing his family. He asked his friend why he was so grave now that they were almost home.

    “Brother, I am going to kill you,” said the second man.

    “You must be joking. After so many years, we are about to see our families,” said the first man.

    “I must kill you,” said the second man.

    “I can’t understand. Why do you want to kill me?”

    “After we arrive in our village, you will tell everyone about your generosity to me.” said the second man.

    “I have already promised you. I will never betray your trust. This will remain a secret unto the grave.
    I give you my word.”

    The second man was so adamant and determined that the first man had no choice. He was genuinely a pious man. He realized that either he would be killed or, in a struggle, he would kill his friend. Not wanting to be sinful himself, he agreed to be killed. He, however, requested the second man to promise him one thing.

    “Please promise me this. When you give the news to my wife that I am dead, say that my last wish was that she change the name of our son from Hagop to “There is law but no justice.”

    The second man promised. He mercilessly killed the first man, buried him and took all the money for himself. When he arrived at the village, he was greeted joyfully. Everyone was impressed by how much money he earned in the big city. The first man’s wife, came running to him and asked where was her husband.

    The second man said, “I am sorry to tell you that your husband died in Constantinople. He became very sick and gradually wasted away and died. I used my own money to bury him. He made me promise to convey his last wish to you. He wanted you change the name of your son to “There is law but no justice.”

    The second man’s wife was devastated by the news. She returned home to lament. She changed her son’s name as her husband wished. She was a poor widow whose only means of living was cleaning houses, washing clothes and cooking.

    The neighborhood children began to called the widow’s son “There is law but no justice.” One day, the village children were playing on the main road where travelers pass. There was a group of uniformed Turkish soldiers with their commander leading them. The children were searching for the first man’s son. They repeated called out his name loudly. The Turkish commander heard the strange name and became curious. He bean to inquire how a little boy received such a strange name.

    He asked to see a responsible village leader. He was introduced to the second man who had become
    prominent by virtue of his wealth.

    The commander asked, “How is it that a boy in your village has such a name as “There is law, but no justice.” The second man said that he was with the boy’s father when he died. The last wish that he gave was that his son be renamed. The first man’s wife was called by the commander and she confirmed that this was true.

    The commander had the second man arrested and held until he completed an investigation. He sent messengers to Constantinople to make an inquiry into the facts. He found out that the two workers from the village left Constantinople together. It was also confirmed that the first man earned a considerable amount of money by continual hard labor and the second man hardly earned anything.

    The commander’s suspicion was confirmed. He interrogated the wealthy second man and forced him to confess the truth. The grave of the first man was uncovered and the money he earned rightfully returned to his widow. The second man was hanged for murder. The commander requested the widow to rename her son, “There is law and justice.” He also had a large stone carved with the same inscription. The stone was placed in a prominent place in the village.

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  • aysbesi ahrthar tadasdahn dehsadz chehee

    Justice is not an automatic given especially in a world full of purposefully deceptive and dishonest officials. Sometimes, to obtain justice someone must resorted to forcing the bad willed authorities by a ruse to do the right thing. There is a story that illustrates this point.

    The just judgement (or denouement)

    There was or there was not, there was an old lady. This old, unfortunate lady had an a son.

    The mother and her son were fed up with their poverty. One day they has a serious discussion about their dire situation. They decided that the boy should became a migrant worker (and seek employment in the big city).

    The next day, the mother prepared necessary clothes and food for her son as well as enough fresh baked and dried bread for one month’s journey. She tied everything in a cloth bag.

    Early the next morning, the mother and the son awoke. They were both very pious Christians so they went to the church and prayed together and took communion and returned to their home. Back home, the boy pick up the cloth bag and carried it over his shoulder and prepared to leave on his long journey. The mother spoke the following words to her dear and only child.

    Zahvagus, toun eem ahckees louissun ehs
    My child, you are the light of my eyes

    Eem meeahg ahbahvehn yev houiss ehs
    My only salvation and protector and hope

    Yeteh cuhkahvoroutiounuh chuh bahrdahrtehrehr
    If our poverty did not dictate our course of action

    Yes chehee toghour vor toun kou highrehnee ojaghehn meg kailh eesk hehrahnaieer
    I would never permit you to take even one step away from your forefather’s home and hearth

    Paytz kani vor ahstvadz aysbehs gamehtzehr eh, ortnyahl uhllah eer gahmkuh
    But since God has willed it to be like this, blessed be His Will

    Kuhnah yavrouss, ahstvadz hedut
    Go my dearest(son - this is a Turkish word of endearment), May God be with you

    Sahgahyn, yertehveh hohrut kehrezmahneen vuhrah, vor beedi chuh khapvees
    However, promise me on the grave of your father, that you won’t be tricked (deceived)

    Ghahreebouteeahn ghedz ou bahdeer yerevouitnehrehn
    By misleading and false happenings in foreign places

    Beedhee cheenahss pohrtzoutiyantz mehck
    You won’t be swayed by trying circumstamces

    Ahyil ahrakeenee hai-kuhreestonyah giank muh beedee ahbrees
    Further you will lead a moral and upright Armenian Christian life

    Kahnee muh dahree ehn halal ashkhahdankov
    After a few years of honest work

    Jahgdeet kuhrdeenkov hazar ghuhroush khuhnayyehlov
    When you have saved a thousand “ghuhroush” (money) by the sweat of your brow

    Mohrut keergut beedee vehrahtahrnas
    You will return to the lap of your mother

    (I have chosen to write out the original Armenian so that the reader may get the flavor of the sweetness of the mother’s words in the original as well as the translation)

    The son made his vow to his mother and they hugged each other tenderly, and kissed each other and the son left with tears of love. He kept looking back to his dear mother and their modest ancestral home with loving looks.

    He went far and he didn’t go far, he finally reached Istambul.

    In Istambul, our innocent immigrant stood on the side of a hotel begging for work. The hotel owner felt sorry for the innocent boy. He arranged a day laborer job, one that required him to personally carry heavy loads, at the local marina. He also provided the boy with a place to sleep in his hotel.

    After several weeks of work, the boy was able to save a few ghouroush (money). He asked some acquaintances where he could safely keep his savings so that when he saved 1000 ghouroush as he vowed, he would return to his ancestral home and the lap of his dear mother.

    The acquaintances explained to the boy that in a nearby neighborhood lived a judge, who was named the “Trustee Judge.” They advised the boy to take his savings and deposit it with the “trustee judge” so that when he amassed 1000 ghouroush he could withdraw the money and return to his country.

    The immigrant youth went to the trusted official’s home. He explained his situation saying, “Honored sir, I am an immigrant boy, ouneem-chouneen (literally “I have and I don’t have). I have left my mother alone in my country of origin to find work here. I have vowed to her not to follow the path of immorality while in this foreign place. I have vowed to work hard and save my money and when my saving reached 1000 ghouroush I must return home. I have heard that you are a trustworthy man. I have come to entrust to you my monthly savings with the expectation that eventually I will amass 1000 ghouroush so that I can complete my vow and return to the lap of my mother.

    After hearing the innocent boy’s wish, he said.

    “My son, you have come to the right place. Do you see that chest which is sitting against the wall? Whatever you have saved thus far, put it into the chest. From now on, every month bring your savings and deposit it in the safe chest and keep the record yourself. When the amount reaches 1000 ghouroush come and claim it and return to your country.”

    In this way, the boy continued to make the deposits of his meager savings month to month in the safe chest and carefully kept the account.

    After several years of savings, the boy calculated that his savings reached 1000 ghouroush. He went to see the trustee official and said, “Honored sir, my savings have reached 1000 ghouroush. I am very thankful to you for safely keeping my money. I have come to withdraw my money and repatriate back to my country. Saying this, when the boy went toward the safe chest to withdraw his savings, the trustee suddenly leaped toward the youth and grabbed the boy to throw him out of the house. The Trustee said, “What savings, what are you talking about, I don’t know who you are. Quick, get out of here.”

    In no time, the immigrant boy found himself empty handed in the street.

    The poor boy was sad and dejected (duhrdum-doughour). He acted as if he received a severe blow to his head. He was disoriented and didn’t know what he was doing like a dumbstruck idiot. He was shaking, trembling, awry and disoriented in his pace. While passing by a building, there was a woman observing him from her second floor apartment window. She noticed his sulky face, his drunken gait and shaking body. She guessed that his young head was afflicted with a great calamity. She quickly opened her window and invited the boy to her apartment to inquire about the cause of his sadness and bewildered state.

    Tearfully the boy explained his woes (khuhlukhoun yeghadzuh - what happened to his head or the fateful events he experienced)

    After hearing the entire accounts of the boy’s travails, the kind woman jumped up from her seat, combed her hair, put on her best holiday dress ,veiled herself, and decked herself out in her best finery. When she was ready to leave, she called the immigrant boy and her servant to her and began to speak first to the boy.

    “Now I will go to the house of the dishonest Trustee. In a half hour, you come and knock on his door and on entering address the trustee in my presence, “Oh Honored Trustee, I am very thankful to you for your good-natured help. You have kept safely my accumulated savings which now total 1000 ghouroush. I have come to withdraw the money and return to my native land to the lap of my dear mother.”

    The woman then addressed her servant with the following instruction. “When this boy leaves the home of the Trustee, immediately you enter the house with a happy smile on your face and announce to me, ‘Noble Madame, I have good news for you, your husband and my master has returned.’”

    After this instruction, the woman took out all her fake and real jewelry and money from her drawer and made a bundle and set out on her mission.

    The Trustee Judge welcomed the good lady respectfully into his house and exchanged the usual greeting (pahrev-astdhoudzoh parev) and other friendly words of camaraderie. The lady began to speak to the trustee with tears and sorrowful expressions. “Honored Trustee, I am a very rich but unfortunate person. I don’t have any children. I only have a husband. Three years ago he went on pilgrimage (hadj), and until today there is no word from him. I have become nearly hopeless. So I have decided to go and find him. My husband loved me so much that he gifted me many precious things such as pearls, diamond earrings, gold bracelets, precious gold coins, and many more different gold decorative pieces. I brought them here in this bundle.” (She opens her bundle. The array of valuables dazzled the eyes of the trustee.)

    I can’t take these on the pilgrimage with me. I have been thinking long and hard how I can safeguard these valuables. I thought of you.

    The Trustee said, “You have brought these valuables to the right person.”

    “Your honor Trustee, I want to entrust all these valuables to you as a deposit for safekeeping. If I come back safe and sound, I am sure you will return them to me. However, if I do not find my husband and in utter hopelessness lose myself too, then all these valuables will belong to you.”

    The Madame’s words were interrupted by the abrupt entrance of the immigrant boy.

    “Honored Trustee, I am so thankful to you for safeguarding my savings for so many years. Now that I have amassed one thousand gouroush. I have come to withdraw my money and repatriate back to my country and return to my mother’s lap.”

    The Trustee immediately rose from his seat, proceeded to the savings chest and withdrew one thousand gouroush. Before giving the money to the immigrant boy, he turned to the Madame and said.

    “You see, honored Madame, this immigrant boy has no relatives in Istambul. He has come here to earn some money and return to his native land to gladden his affectionate mother. He had the good intelligence to deposit his savings month after month with me. Thus, now that he has saved one thousand gouroush, I am returning this money to him so that he may return to his native land.”

    Saying this, the Trustee handed over the money to the immigrant boy, who began to dance in joy (khaghahlov khuntalov) and left the house. Just as the immigrant boy stepped foot outside the house, the Madame’s female servant entered smiling from cheek to cheek (juhbdelohv, ourakh-ourakh) and said. “Madame, please smile, your husband (and my master) has returned.”

    Saying this, the female servant began to dance joyfully out the door.

    The Madame immediately collected her valuables neatly in her bundle and said, “Thank you very much, Honored Trustee, I bid you farewell.” She also left the house dancing joyfully out the door.

    Seeing these unexpected events the Trustee also rose and began to dance joyfully and went out the door where all four were assembled together. The Madame addressed the Trustee.

    “Honored Trustee, this poor immigrant has left your house dancing joyfully because he received his thousand gouroush. My servant danced joyfully out of your house because her master has returned. I also danced joyfully out of your house because my husband who has been absent three years has returned home. But why are you joyfully dancing out of the house like us?”

    “I am also joyfully dancing with you because after so many years of being a Trustee Judge, I have never seen such justice as what I have witnessed today,” answered the Trustee.

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