Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • I have four wives. One has a bad disposition, one has bad teeth, one’s leg is shorter than the other, one doesn’t know how to cook, and none of them have given birth to a son, therefore I am looking for another wife.
    chohrss geen ounehm, ahratcheenuh vad puhnoutioun ounee, yehrgrrohtuh ahdahmnehr puhdatz ehn, yehroteen mehg dzounguh mouissehn gahrj eh, chohrotuh jahss ehpehl chee kidehr. votch megehl dughah yehrehkhah chee pehrahv. tahrtzyalh geen guh puhnduhrehm

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  • mehmuh nohr douneen, mehmuh nohr hahrsin
    ahmehn ohr mehg mehg pahn muh guh bahksin

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  • meghoun chee muhnahr pehtakeen metch uur megheer chee gah
    hahrssuh chee muhnahr aiyhn douhnuh uur tuhrahm (pogh) chee gah

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  • • The wife can make or break the family
    geenuh douhn guh seeneh, douhn guh kahnteh

    There was and there wasn’t a widow.
    The widow had an only son, who was only five years old when his father died. The widow raised her child by doing menial housework, washing clothes and cleaning homes.
    When the boy became twenty years old, he realized that there was no future for him in his home town. He proposed the following, “Mother, I know how much you have struggled to raise me. Now that I am grown, I do not want to live off your hard work like a lazy man. I think it is necessary to move away from this economically depressed town to a major city where I can find a job and make your life much easier.”
    It was difficult for the mother to leave the home and hearth of her ancestral town, However, she considered the future of her son and was willing to help him become prosperous in his own right. She accepted his proposal and quickly they sold off whatever meager belongings they had to cover the cost of their travel. They sadly said goodbye to their family hearth and set off on their journey.
    They went far and they went little. They finally reached Istanbul.
    It was difficult for the boy to find work in the sprawling metropolis of Istanbul. The widow, however, quickly found work washing clothes and cleaning house by knocking on the doors of wealthy person’s homes. After a few weeks, the two were able to muster up enough money to rent a very small corner room in a cheap hotel.
    While searching for a job as an apprentice in a store, the widow’s son heard a royal, street messenger announce, “Our honored King will build a new palace. Please contact the foreman in charge of hiring at the palace if you are a day laborer, journeyman or qualified for construction work.”
    The boy happily returned home and related to his mother the announcement he heard on the street. He begged permission from his mother to apply for a job as a laborer as he did not have any other qualification.
    The widow hesitatingly agreed to give permission to her insistent son, even though she had misgivings that he should find work as an apprentice rather than a common laborer. She preferred he find work with an artisan or a businessman so he would become trained in skills that would make his future more secure. After several months of hard work the widow and her son were able to save enough to purchase a very humble cottage on the outskirts of Istanbul in a poor neighborhood. They were happy to move away from the cramped room in the cheap hotel. Now they had their own home.
    The widow examined every little aspect of her new home. As the months passed she and her son managed to save a little money that she spent on small house improvements.
    The King of Istanbul had only one daughter. Once the work on his new palace had progressed, the king and his daughter decided to pay a surprise visit to inspect the quality of the work being done.
    During their on-site visit, the king’s daughter espied the widow’s handsome, youthful son. It was love at first sight for her. Without revealing her heartfelt feelings, she addressed her father by pointing out the widow’s son to him.
    “Father, don’t you think it is a shame that such a young man should be toiling so hard to carry such heavy rocks with his bare hands and shoulders. Let’s give him a few gold coins so that he can purchase a mule so that he can move those heavy rocks and building materials.”
    The King fulfilled the wish of his daughter. He called the widow’s son and gave him three gold coins.
    “Take these gold coins and buy a mule so that you can move the heavy stones and materials.”
    The widow’s son expressed his gratitude for the generous kindness of the King.
    When he returned home that night, he told his mother everything that happened that day. The widow did not like that her son was forced to carry heavy rocks and burdens everyday. But, she also considered that the welfare of their future depended on the maintenance of their small cottage.
    “My son, winter is fast approaching. Our cottage’s roof is leaking. Everything we have will be ruined unless we can repair the roof before winter comes. I think it is more prudent to spend the gold coins on a new roof. The welfare of our family depends on this home now. This should be our first priority.”
    The son agreed with his mother. The next day he returned to work and continued to carry the heavy loads on his bare back. The widow spent the coins for a new roof. The small cottage had a new look when the roof was finished.
    Several weeks later, the King and his daughter returned for another inspection of the work on his new palace. As they walked the construction site, the King noticed the widow’s son was still carrying the heavy loads on his bare shoulders. He called him to for a talk.
    “I gave you three gold coins to purchase a mule. Why are you still carrying such heavy loads on your bare shoulders?”
    The widow’s son was taken aback seeing the stern look of the King. He glanced at the King’s daughter who was looking at him with a kind look. He explained to the King his mother’s arrangement. He added that thanks to the three gold coins, the roof of their small cottage was saved from collapsing, and now the new roof conferred a respectable and stately look to their house.
    The King became angry. He ordered the insubordinate widow’s son to stop working and go away.
    The King’s daughter spoke up to her father. “You have made a mistake father. Instead of punishing this youth, you should rather praise his mother for being a woman who turns a house into a real home ( douhn seehnogh geen). She transformed her dilapidated cottage into a stately home the first opportunity she had.”
    The King became very upset by his daughter’s unsolicited defense of the widow’s son. He pronounced the following.
    “From this moment I swear that you will not be my heir. You must marry this common laborer.” The king’s vow was irreversible. His pronounced will was executed immediately. A priest was summoned. He performed the marriage rite for the widow’s son and the king’s daughter. They were sent away from the palace as soon as the ceremony was finished.
    The newly married couple went to the widow’s house. With a good heart, she welcomed her new daughter-in-law and began to lovingly teach her how to work and perform different household chores. She gave her the responsibility for all the household work so that she could increase her own work time in the homes of wealthy clients. With her increased earnings, she set aside some savings so that her son could begin a trading business buying and selling fresh produce.
    The king’s daughter observed the widow’s consistent dedication and wisdom for her family. She lived and maintained herself with dignity. She noted her husband’s affection for his mother and his hard work. She felt inspired to sincerely dedicate herself to her mother-in-law’s instructions to perform house duties. She thought of the widow as the matron who was building their home and hearth to last.
    The widow’s son used his mother’s savings to purchase goods from large wholesale produce dealers. He sold the goods by walking through neighborhoods and selling at bargain prices. He was able to make a small profit daily. With his earnings added to his mother’s, they were able to make small repairs that gradually made their home very comfortable and stylish.
    One day on his way home after business hours, the widow’s son noticed a man on a street corner whose face was serenely happy. The man was hawking, “Wisdom for sale.” He approached the man and gave him his entire day’s profit. In return the serene man gave the widow’s son the following wisdom: “One who follows the path of righteousness never goes wrong in life.” (literally, one who goes the right path never gets lost”)
    When the widow’s son reached home, he told his mother what happened to him that day. The widow, who always tried to enhance the dignity of her family congratulated her son rather than scold him. She encouraged him to following words, “Son, since you paid so dearly for that wisdom, you must always keep it in mind and mold your life so that you can be guided by such wisdom regardless of where you might find yourself.”
    On another occasion, the widow’s son met a dervish to whom he gave his day’s profit to receive the following advice: “Always remain on the right path of truth. The crooked will surely receive their just punishment.”
    When he told his mother about the dervish’s wisdom, she praised him for having the intelligence to seek good advice for living his life. She advised him to always live honorably by remembering his two acquired gems of wisdom so that whenever he may encounter difficult times of temptation, he should follow the path of moral and righteous living as enjoined by the wise words he paid to receive.
    On another occasion, the widow’s son spent his entire day’s earnings to purchase a “mysterious chest” that he brought home. When he opened it in front of his mother, they both observed two black cats in the chest. One cat was a male and one female. The widow did not express disappointment about her son’s purchase. Rather, she respectfully kept the “mysterious chest” and looked after its contents (the cats). She told her son: “There is some providential meaning to this mysterious chest that will be very beneficial to you in the future.”
    One day, when the widow’s son was doing his sales of produce on a street in one of Istanbul’s distant neighborhoods, he noticed a huge tent in the distance. He approached the tent and inquired about it. He found out that the tent belonged to an itinerant Christian merchant who traveled from city to city selling exotic wares. He learned that the merchant was seeking new employees. The widow’s son was fascinated with the thought of becoming a servant employee of the Christian merchant.
    When he returned home, he related to his mother how he was so impressed by the merchant’s offer of possible employment.
    He begged his mother to let him seek employment with the merchant.
    The widow felt intuitively that her son’s desire was auspicious. She thought her son would have a good future working for the traveling merchant. She gave her permission to seek employment with the merchant. She considered her son’s intention good for his future because she always wanted him to accept an apprenticeship with a businessman or artisan craftsman. Her wish would now be fulfilled.
    When the widow’s son approached the merchant for a job, he was accepted to be one of his servants. After some months, the merchant was convinced of the young man’s faithfulness and loyalty. He increased his monthly pay and appointed him his closest personal servant.
    The merchant appreciated very much the service rendered by the young man. One day, the widow’s son asked the merchant if his mother could wash his personal laundry. The merchant immediately accepted. After some time, the merchant noticed the exceptional quality of work with which the widow washed, pressed and perfumed his underclothes and other personal clothing. He felt obliged to pay the widow more than the normal wage for her work. He also increased the salary of her son.
    The widow continued the improvements on her home with repairs, decorations and room additions. The widow, her son and daughter-in-law lived happily as a family.
    After six months, the merchant finished his business sales in Istanbul. He made many purchases of goods in Istanbul to take with him to his next destination for further sales. He prepared his caravan to travel. When all the preparations were ready, he asked his faithful servant to talk privately. He offered to take the widow’s son with him as his trusted servant and journey the four corners of the world until his next return to Istanbul. Such a journey would take about twenty years. The merchant offered the widow’s son the equivalent of ten years wages in advance as an enticement to encourage him to accept. He agreed to pay him the remaining ten year’s wages on their return to Istanbul.
    The widow’s son approached his mother and explained the merchant’s proposal. He begged her to give her approval for his departure. The widow perceived a blessing in the merchant’s offer. He also implored his wife to give her permission for his journey. Both women agreed. The ladies were pleased to receive a large sum of money, which they would use for further repairs and embellishment of their house.
    Before her son set off on the long journey, the widow brought the mysterious chest to her son and said: “Dear son, you purchased two gems of wisdom as well as this mysterious chest. You paid dearly for all three with your hard earned money. I feel confident that God has some plan for you. These costly acquisitions you made will have some important role to play in your long travels.
    After several months of journey, the caravan came to rest on the outskirts of a village. The merchant ordered his servants to pitch the tents. His guards kept watch at the four corners of the tents. The merchant and his loyal servant, the widow’s son, walked toward the village to purchase food for the evening. When the two entered the home of the village leader, they saw his servants holding big sticks. They were searching for mice and rats that they beat to death. The merchant was amazed by the strange scene. He looked at the village chief with a puzzled mien as if to ask “What is this all about?”
    The village chief explained that the villagers were continually on guard day and night to kill the rodents that had completely infested their village. The pests attacked their stored food forcing the villagers to empty their basements and transfer their extra food to safer storage facilities. The merchant and his servant reflected that these villagers had never heard of “the cat.”
    Hearign about the villager’s plight, the widow’s son quickly ran back to the merchant’s camp to fetch his mysterious chest. He returned to the village leader’s home with the chest. He placed it on the floor in the main room. He opened the chest. The two black cats jumped out. The villagers were stunned when they saw the rodents frantically scramble to disappear.
    A miracle happened. The village chief quickly spread the news. The wonderful cats went from home to home in search of mice and rats. The villagers were able now to enjoy a full night’s sleep without fear that the pests would eat their stored food.
    The widow’s son explained to the villagers that there was a male and female cat. After some months the village would be populated with many cats so that the rodent population would be completely controlled.
    The villagers organized a meeting and decided to thank the widow’s son and reward him for his invaluable help. They gifted him a “mysterious pomegranate” that the village elders had inherited from their revered ancestors. They thought it would be an appropriate gift to reciprocate the widow’s son for his gift of the mysterious chest.
    The merchant approved of the widow’s son’s wisdom and foresight. He also rewarded him by giving him the caravan’s lead mule so that the experienced animal could safely carry the valuable mysterious pomegranate.
    The next day the caravan set out again toward its next stop. On the road, the merchant’s caravan encountered another merchant caravan that was going toward Istanbul. The widow’s son asked the other caravan leader if he would accept his mule carrying the mysterious pomegranate and safely direct the mule to his mother in Istanbul. The other merchant agreed.
    Let’s leave the merchant’s caravan to its travels from country to country and return to Istanbul to the widow’s home to learn what has transpired there. The widow’s daughter-in-law was pregnant and after some time gave birth to a son. The friendly merchant, who agreed to take the mule laden with the mysterious pomegranate to Istanbul, arrived and delivered the mule and its load to the widow.
    As it is sometimes the natural instinct of a woman who gives birth to a baby, the widow’s daughter-in-law felt a strong urge to eat a pomegranate. Not having any other pomegranate in her home at that particular moment, the widow thought of giving the new mother the mysterious pomegranate that her son sent her. The widow opened the mysterious pomegranate by banging it on the floor in order to open its rind and then separate its seeds by hand for her daughter-in-law to east. The widow and her bride were astonished to see that the mysterious pomegranate contained precious jewels instead of ordinary seeds.
    They suddenly became immensely wealthy. They sat down together and had a very serious talk about how the time was ripe to invest their wealth. They devised a plan to build a fabulous palace that would attract the attention of the king. This would gradually prepare for the opportunity to one day reestablish justice and truth concerning the king’s treatment of his daughter and her husband.
    The widow invited the most famous and expert architects to her home. She explained her plans to build a fabulous palace that would incorporate the most modern architectural design in order to far exceed in every way the king’s palace. With the help and advice of the architects, the widow and her bride purchased a prominent plot of land on the most chic street of Istanbul which is in the Taksim neighborhood. The two ladies requested the architects to prepare detailed drawings for the new palace. The widow and her bride would choose the best of all the designs.
    After years of submissions, the widow and her bride finally chose the best architectural plan. Soon the work began on the foundation of the superb new palace. The progress was slow on the foundation in order to be sure that it would be secure for the future building.
    Let us leave the architect and the construction people to do their work. The widow and her bride oversaw the work. They lovingly raised the male child. The days turned into months and eventually years. They boy grew to adolescence. We will return to the merchant’s caravan and the widow’s son. The merchant traveled from one great metropolis to another selling his wares and buying new merchandise to sell. After ten years of such profitable selling, the merchant’s caravan finally reached his home town.
    The merchant was married to a beautiful and somewhat young wife who he loved dearly. However, his wife feigned love for the merchant. She was unfaithful.
    When the caravan reached the home town, the merchant’s wife organized a grand welcome home coming for her husband. During the party dinner, the unfaithful wife was introduced to her husband’s most faithful servant, the widow’s son. It was lust at first sight for the unfaithful wife of the merchant.

    She tried to mask her unfaithfulness toward her husband and at the same time appear to be very motherly toward the widow’s son. She requested her husband to let the widow’s son stay in their spacious home and treat him like their own son. They were without children and it would fill a vacuum in their life to treat her husband’s most faithful servant as their own son.
    The merchant, who already had a natural affection for the widow’s son, appreciated very much his wife’s beautiful thought. He accepted enthusiastically his wife’s motherly attitude toward his faithful servant and agreed to her proposal.
    But the merchant’s wife’s mind was bent toward mischief. Her thoughts were lustful and forbode trouble. From the very first day the merchant’s faithful servant moved into the house, the lusty merchant’s wife began to expertly tempt the widow’s son with her seductiveness. Every occasion the merchant’s wife gave an affectionate look, hugged, kissed, and posed in seductive postures, the widow’s son remained unmoved and neutral and maintained a sympathetic innocent demeanor.
    But the merchant’s wife was not a person that was easily deterred from her lusty purpose. Day by day, weeks by week, month by month, she continued her unsavory pursuit of seduction by setting up many situations where she could trap the young man into her net of illicit love. She dressed in very attractive clothes with near exposed body parts in order to victimize the young man by her lusty desires. During the difficult moments of temptation, the widow’s son would remember the two gems of wisdom he purchased: “One who follows the path of righteousness never goes wrong” and “You remain on the right path of truth. The crooked will surely receive their just punishment.” He also meditated on his mother’s advice: ” Always live honorably by remembering his two acquired gems of wisdom so that whenever he may encounter difficult times of temptation, he should follow the path of moral and righteous living as enjoined by the wise words he paid to receive.”
    Remembering his acquired wisdom and his mother’s words, the widow’s son remained resolute to not fall into the evil traps of the unfaithful merchant’s wife. When the lusty woman saw that her husband was preparing his caravan to move on again she became desperate. All of her attempts to lure her husband’s faithful servant to make love to her failed. None of her seductive traps worked to make the young man a victim of her conquest to enjoy him. Without hope to succeed, she decided to take a terrible revenge on the young man.
    One day, when the widow’s son was absent from the merchant’s house and the merchant was expected to arrive at any moment, the evil merchant’s wife purposely tore the clothes she was wearing. She used her fingernails to dishevel her hair, and scratch her face. She began to wail pitifully as her husband entered the house.
    The merchant looked at his wife’s sad condition and tried to comfort her until her screeching anger subsided. She addressed him with her trembling and pleading voice: “Your faithful servant just tried his best to destroy your “family honor,” and because I resisted, he beat me up and left me in this condition. She stropped talking and began to tremble and cry.
    The enraged merchant decided on the spot to take revenge on his servant. However, the merchant’s wife suggested that her husband not give the faithful servant a chance to defend his actions. She proposed that he punish the servant in a secretive way so that no one else knew about his attempt to defile her honor. The merchant agreed with his wife to keep the event a secret. He devised a plan for revenge.
    He went to a far off acquaintance of his who was a baker with a big oven. He paid him a big amount of money and said: “In a short while, if a person comes to see you and says “what happened to the merchant’s order.” Without any questions asked or discussion throw that person into your oven and close the door.”
    When the merchant returned home, he reassured his wife that his servant would soon be dead. In other words, his friend the baker who lived some distance from their house would throw the man into his oven and burn him to a crisp. His evil wife noted the address and name of the baker. She wanted to be sure to verify that the widow’s son would indeed be killed otherwise she would not feel safe if he survived.
    When the widow’s son returned to the merchant’s house, his employer asked him to step outside and spoke to him: “Please go to
    the baker’s shop at such and such address and ask him the following question with these exact words: “What happened to the merchant’s order.” Please ask him with these exact words and not one word more. The faithful servant left for the baker’s shop and the merchant entered the house to reassure his wife that his faithful servant would be roasted in fifteen minutes in the baker’s oven.
    On the road between the merchant’s house and the baker’s shop there was a church. As the widow’s son came close to the church, an instinctual thought entered his mind. He reflected how, since he and his mother left their ancestral village, he had not entered a church. He felt a tremor of shame that he had been so long away from prayer and church. In a seemingly mysterious and magnetic way he entered the church. He began to listen to the priest’s chants of ancient prayers. He felt some encouragement for his lonely soul. He began to say a prayer for the protection of his distant mother and wife. In the customary way, he remained until the priest finished the hourly prayer out of respect.
    Let us leave the widow’s son to his prayers and return to the merchant’s house. The merchant’s wife waits a quarter of an hour which extends to a half hour and then she became very impatient to receive the good news that the faithful servant was toast. She felt insecure without the news for fear her ruse would be exposed. Impatient, she rushed out of the house and ran toward the baker’s shop. She enters the shop out of breath and comes up to the baker who has his baker’s shovel in his hand. She asks him a question with her rapid and breathless voice: “What happened to the merchant’s order?”
    The baker, without asking any questions grabbed the woman and forcibly threw her into the oven with the help of his baker’s shovel. She landed on the burning hot coals and the baker slammed the oven door shut so that she had no hope of escape.
    After finishing his prayers and hearing the hourly prayers of the priest to completion, the widow’s son left the church feeling somewhat guilty that he stayed so long and thus would be late arriving at the baker’s shop. But, he felt certain that his kindhearted boss would understand the reason for his lateness. He ran toward the baker’s shop. On arriving and seeing the baker, he asked: “What happened to the merchant’s order?” The baker replied: “Go and tell the merchant that his order wasn’t carried out to the last detail without any trouble.”
    When the boy returned home, he explained to his boss what the baker said. Without saying a word, the merchant ran out of the house toward the baker’s shop. He murmured to himself: “There is a mystery that needs to be unraveled in this ordeal.”
    When he arrived, he asked the baker why his order was not executed. The baker replied that he perfectly performed the task he was commissioned to do by the merchant. He explained the same thing to the second messenger (the widow’s son) that the merchant sent him. The merchant was confused by the baker’s explanation and said, “How is that?”
    The baker explained: “You instructed me that if a person present himself or herself and says, “What happened to the merchant’s order?”, I was to throw that person into the oven with no questions asked. Is it not like that?”
    “Yes,” said the merchant, “but……”
    (Paiytz-maiytz chee gah) “There is no but or mutt,” interrupted the baker. “A woman came running to my bakery and asked the question with the same exact words “What happened to the merchant’s order?” I subdued her and threw her into the oven as you ordered me to do. No questions asked.”
    The merchant understood now what happened. He returned home and asked his faithful servant to explain in detail the nature of the relationship between himself and the merchant’s wife. At first, the servant was visibly uncomfortable about talking on such a sensitive subject. He was worried that if the merchant found out the truth he might become passionately angry with his wife. The faithful servant would become the catalyst for fomenting an argument between husband and wife. But the merchant proceeded to reveal that his wife had confided in him that the faithful servant had molested her and attempted to defile her sexually. The merchant had secretly arranged with the baker to kill the faithful servant by throwing him into the oven. But by a quirk of fate, his wife ended up in the oven instead of the widow’s son. After hearing about the treachery of the merchant’s wife, the faithful servant began to explain in detail all the temptations and sexual exhortations that the merchant’s wife subjected him to in order to distract him from the path of righteousness and defile his employer’s “family honor.” (The word for “family honor” in Armenian is uhndahnehgan bahdeev. Often the Turkish word for the same meaning is used. It is nahmouss.)
    The widow’s son related how he remembered the two gems of wisdom he purchased in Istanbul from street vendors as well as his own mother’s advice to always remember and benefit from the gems of wisdom for his own protection in life. Because of this, he was able to withstand the temptations and traps of passions tendered by the merchant’s wife.
    After hearing all the explanations, said to the widow’s son: “My dear son, the crooked receive their just reward (dzouruh eer baddeejuh kuhdhav). You did not stray from the path of righteousness. Therefore, I will reward you handsomely. From this day on, you are no longer my servant. You are my business partner and my adopted child. After my death, you will become my only heir.”
    It was time for the caravan to depart. The merchant ordered the caravan to roll out of his hometown.
    Let us leave the caravan to proceed on its slow journey from country to country until it will eventually reach Istanbul. Let us turn our attention again to the widow and her royal daughter-in-law. They advanced significantly the building of their new palace with tremendous effort. The widow’s grandson attained adolescence. The king began to notice with interest the construction of the matchless palace coming up near his royal palace.
    When the construction of the new palace was completed, the widow’s grandson reached the age of a young man. The king sent his men to gather information about the owners of the new palace. They reported that three persons lived in the new palace: a widow, her daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law’s only son who was twenty years old. The king was informed that the widow’s son who was the daughter-in-law’s husband was a servant of a very wealthy businessman who traveled from country to country with his caravan selling wares. However, due to the servant’s faithfulness to the traveling merchant, he had become his intimate friend and partner. The caravan was slated to return to Istanbul very shortly.
    The king sent his representatives to invite the twenty year old young man to join his hunting group for a weekend excursion. The youth asked the advice of his grandmother and mother before accepting the invitation. At the same time, the merchant’s caravan finally arrived in Istanbul. The twenty year old youth greeted his father and immediately brought him to the new palace. When the widow’s son set eyes on the palace, he praised the ingenuity of his mother and wife for building such a magnificent building. The merchant, as was his habit, stayed in his stately tent.
    After some days, the widow called her son and his wife and spoke to them the following words: “The time has come that they reveal their identities to the king. She added: “During an unfortunate moment of anger, the king thought he was going to punish his insubordinate daughter. But, in reality, it was he who was punished by not seeing his only daughter for twenty years. I think his period of punishment should come to an end. We should take advantage of his newly found hunting friend, our grandson, and ask the youth invite the king to dinner. He will discover anew his long lost daughter and hopefully become reconciled.
    The widow’s son and his wife appreciated immensely the wisdom of the widow. Their son invited the king to dine in the newly constructed palace with his family. They had waited for some time to be invited to the superb palace in order to become acquainted with his new neighbors. He willingly accepted the invitation. The widow’s son also invited his benefactor and business partner, the merchant, who would be extremely honored to share the dinner invitation with the king.
    The traditional custom when receiving honored guests like the rich merchant and especially the king, was to separate by a partition the women from the men. The partition was a heavy curtain behind which the ladies directed the servants in every detail of serving the dinner.
    The king, the merchant, and the twenty year old son of the host along with his father who traveled with the merchant for twenty years sat at the table. The king was not able to recognize who his host was because he only had a cursory glimpse twenty years before of the widow’s son who worked as a day laborer. The widow’s son was now a very prominent man. The king couldn’t even imagine that he had met the widow’s son twenty years before.
    The four enjoyed a very fun-filled and tasty meal together. When they were ready to get up from the dinner table, the curtain that separated the women from the men was opened so that the widow and her daughter-in-law entered the company of the four men.
    The king’s daughter walked up to her father. The king and the merchant were shocked out of their wits by the following words that she addressed to her father. “Father, I am your only daughter that you made a vow to reject and denied any inheritance. At the time you arranged on the spot that I marry the widow’s son who was a common day laborer. I must confide in you that I had already fallen in love with him at first sight and secretly wanted to marry him.
    She pointed to her mother-in-law and her husband. This is the widow who chose to repair and decorate her modest house in order to have a justified pride in home ownership by repairing her broken, leaky roof with the three gold coins you gave to her son. You gave him the three coins on my request because he was carrying very heavy stones on his bare back all day long just to earn an honest living. You ordered him to purchase a mule to lighten the load on his back. But his mother asked him to let her use the money to repair the roof. He agreed because of his respect and love for his mother and exposed himself to your ire for not following your order. He is my heart’s darling. He has evolved by the grace of his “household building” mother’s astute advice, guidance and good wishes to become the work partner and eventual heir of this very wealthy merchant.
    Do you remember when I made the observation about the hard working and faithful demeanor of the young day laborer who you insisted on laying off because he did not purchase a mule with your three gold coins. I cautioned you that you should also consider his obligation to follow his mother’s advice because she is a “home and hearth builder.” I feel blessed that I was able to find shelter under the tutelage of such a “home building mother” so much so that I have also become a “home building mother.”
    The merchant began to speak. He related the history of his unfaithful wife and how she was in reality a “Family destroyer.” He concluded: “A wife can build a family and a wife can break a family.” (A wife can make or break the family)
    The king asked his “son-in-law” to sincerely suggest to his mother and his business partner, the merchant whose wife betrayed his confidence, to agree to get married. The king’s suggestion was actually a royal order to the home building widow and the merchant. They accepted the proposal. The king summoned a Christian priest who performed the marriage of the widow to the merchant.
    The king was very happy to have found his long lost and presumed dead daughter. He was already an old man. He wanted to correct the wrong he committed in banning his daughter and depriving her of her rightful heritage. He decided to step down from his throne and declare his daughter the queen of the kingdom. He designated his son-in-law as the guardian of the throne and his twenty year old grandson the heir to the throne.
    They all achieved their heart’s desires. May those who have read this tale also reach their heart’s desire.

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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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  • Ahghek geen, chounee kin

    Behind every great man there is a great woman.

    King Vacha and Queen Ashken had a son named Vachagan. He was a handsome prince and good-hearted. He grew, however, without learning to read or write. He preferred to hunt and ignored the royal duties.

    One day Vachagan met a young woman filling her pitcher at a spring. He asked her for a drink. She handed him a jug saying, “This is melted snow. Sip it slowly. You are hot and tired, and the sudden cold could harm you.”

    Vachagan was impressed by her concern and followed her advice. He asked her name as he handed back the pitcher. “My name is Ahnait. I am the daughter of Aran, the weaver. Vachagan asked to meet her father. Ahnaiit led him back to her father’s house and introduced him.

    Aran spread a carpet on the floor and invited Vachagan to sit. The prince noticed the excellent workmanship of the carpet. Aran proudly explained that the carpet was woven by his daughter, Anait.

    “My daughter is unmatched in her weaving. She reads and writes like a scholar. God has truly blessed me with such a daughter.” Anait humbly praised her father for teaching her these wonderful talents.

    “I never learned to read or write. I have never learned a craft like weaving. I am the son of King Vacha and am heir to his throne. I can offer your daughter great riches and power. Let me marry her.”

    Aran softly replied that Anait must decide for herself. Anait spoke earnestly that she could not marry a man who can neither read nor write and does not even know a craft by which he may earn an honest living. Anait asked him to learn to read and write and become expert in a trade like weaving before she would consider marrying him.

    Vachagan gradually gave up hunting and applied himself to learning how to read and write and weave. After some time he became an expert weaver. He wove a carpet with roses entwined around a golden tree with many nightingales perched on its branches. He sent the carpet with a poetic note that he wrote himself to Anait. On seeing the beautiful carpet and note, she realized his serious intent and agreed to marry him.

    Their marriage was performed and they happily lived together. Vachagan taught Anait how to ride a horse and wield a sword. He also taught her the intricacies of leading men into battle. She became an expert in the arts of war and leadership and helped her husband gradually take the burden of the kingdom from his elderly parents.

    Vachagan continued to weave in his spare time. After the death of Vachagan’s parents, he and his wife ascended to the throne.

    One day Vachagan went to his eastern provinces where there were reports of serious trouble. His eastern subjects were frightened and traumatized, but refused to explain the cause of their distress. Anait suggested her husband go disguised as a hunter so that the people talk more freely with a stranger. Vachagan left Anait in charge of the kingdom and left.

    After several days, Vachagan arrived in a village near the eastern mountains and met a merchant who asked, “Where are you going?” “Eastward,” said Vachagan, “but I have heard rumors that it is risky to travel there.” ”

    Our lives are in constant danger. Whoever speaks loudly about the danger disappears. Above all, do not journey east with the caravan that leaves at dawn. No one who goes with it returns,” said the merchant.

    Vachagan decided to join the caravan going east as it would probably reveal the mystery of the evil. The next day, he found the caravan master, an unsavory knave, and paid him the fee to join the caravan traveling east.

    After a long day of travel, the caravan stopped at a strange looking inn built into a mountainside. Vachagan and his fellow travelers were led into the tunnel-like entrance and opened into a large, torch lit cavern where they were surrounded by strange looking fellows. From the shadows appeared a dev, a demon so horrible that even Vachagan could hardly look at him. The ogre was as big as three men and his three heads had blazing eyes and sharp red teeth.

    Vachagan noticed that there were many other people like himself that were chained prisoners. He was subdued and disarmed by the dev’s men. The dev questioned the travelers one by one to determine if they had a useful trade that he could exploit. If they had no trade, he killed them by throwing them into a fire pit. When the dev questioned Vachagan, the brave king said, “I weave carpets worth a hundred pieces of gold.” The dev chained Vachagan to a loom and forced him to work day and night with very little rest and meager food. The dev was anxious to sell Vachagan’s carpet and reap the hundred pieces of gold. He warned also that Vachagan would go to the pit of death if his carpet fetched less.

    When the carpet was finished, the dev snatched it greedily and examined its flawless designs, colors and unusual border. “I have never seen such patterns before,” said the dev.

    “Those are magical charms that can only be appreciated by royalty. Let Queen Anait see it. She will surely pay you a hundred pieces of gold for it,” said Vachagan.

    The dev sent one of his men to Anait with the carpet. She had become very anxious not hearing any news from Vachagan. When Anait saw the carpet, she was intrigued by the workmanship. She carefully examined the design of a golden tree filled with nightingales and circled with roses. It was the same pattern Vachagan had woven to win her hand in marriage. She observed the intricate border and realized that there was a hidden message written into the design. It said, “My beloved Anait, I am the prisoner of a wicked dev. Whoever brings this carpet is one of my jailers. He will lead you to me. Ever your Vchagan.”

    Anait arrested the man and assembled her army to march. Guided by the dev’s servant, the army quickly reached the cavern inn. Anait ordered the gates of the inn broken. The dev’s guards rushed out to fiercely battle. Anait bravely rallied her troops to fight. Suddenly the horrible three headed dev appeared. Anait’s soldiers dispersed fearfully. Anait, however, faced the monster ready for battle. The monster roared and threw his club to injure Anait’s horse. She spiked her horse to leap so that the club passed beneath the horse. Anait charged the demon and cut off one of his heads, then the second and the third. The dev’s man fled.

    Anait rushed into the cave calling her husband. Vachagan answered her calls. She freed him and remarked how artful the carpet he wove was. Aghek geen chounee keen. (A good woman is priceless)

    There was a handsome prince who was slowly wasting away because a snake parasite inhabited his intestines and sapped his energy daily. Dejected, he left his Father’s palace and went to another country and lived in the capital city where he begged alms and spent his time in the main temple.

    In that city there was a king who had two daughters ready for marriage. He was very fond of one daughter and not inclined to the second who he married to the destitute prince. He gave a small dowry and sent the couple off to a far-off land. The princess was delighted to marry the sickly prince. She began to serve him faithfully. One day she went to shop leaving the prince alone while he slept in their garden. When she returned, she was shocked to see he had moved on the grass near an abandoned anthill. A snake like creature was protruding from his mouth. There was another snake sticking its head out from the anthill. The two snakes were angered at each other and began to talk. The anthill snake said,

    “You villain! Why do you torment a prince who is so gentle and handsome?”

    The snake in the prince’s mouth replied,

    “You miser? Why do you live in that hole guarding the treasure of two bags of gold?” Each made known the other’s weakness.

    The anthill snake continued, “Just by the juice of black mustard seeds, you would be destroyed.” The other snake replied, “Pouring boiling water in your hole would finish you forever.”

    The wife heard the two snakes reveal their secrets. She made the juice of mustard seeds and gave it to her husband. He vomited the dead snake out of of his mouth and was finally cured of his sickness. His wife then poured boiling water into the ant hole and killed the other snake.

    She dug up the two bags of gold. She and her husband were now wealthy and healthy and lived happily ever after. Ahghek geen chounee keen

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