The rock is in his pocket
kahruh dzotzehn eh
When a person prepares a statement or retort beforehand and comes prepared to answer questions.
The eyes of the buyer are in the hands of the seller
Ahrnogheen ahckuh, dzakhogheen tzehruhn guh leenee
Chakh chakh tahkavor – the hammermill king
This is a story by Hohvahness Toumanian
(chakh chakh is an approximation of the sound that the wheel of a grain mill makes when turning)
There was and there was not a poor miller. He wore a torn sheep skin and wool coat, a flour dusty cloth covered his hair. He lived on the bank of a river in a dilapidated mill. He had an ashen, unleavened loaf of bread and a piece of cheese.
One day he went outside to release some water from the mill. When he returned, his cheese was missing. Another time, he went outside to let more water run into his mill. When he returned, the bread was gone. He thought, “Is there someone or is there not someone doing this mischief?” He thought and thought. Then he set a trap inside the mill and went to sleep. The next morning, he woke up to find a fox caught in the trap.
“Hey, you foul thief, you ate my cheese and bread. Hey, now I’ll show you what it is like to be a piece of stolen cheese. Saying this, the miller picked up a metal bar to smash to death the fox. The fox began to beg and plead: “Please don’t kill me for a little piece of cheese. Get me out of this trap and I’ll do many good things for you.’
The miller listened attentively and finally let the fox out of the trap.
The fox went away to a trash dump. It happened to be the dump where the palace waste of that country’s king was deposited. The fox walked and rummaged in the waste piles. The wily animal found a gold piece. He quickly ran toward the palace to talk to the king.
The fox addressed the king: “May the king live long (takavoruhn ahbradz gehnah), please loan me your large weighing bowl (gohduh – a large bowl of specific size used for weighing large quantities of gold and other precious items of value). The hammermill king has a certain quantity of gold. I’ll weigh it and bring back to you.
Tell me, who is this hammermill king? asked the local king who appeared perplexed and surprised.
“You don’t know him yet,” answered the fox. The hammermill king is a very wealthy monarch and I am his vizer (chief minister). Please give me the bowl. I’ll go weigh the gold, then you’ll know who he is.
The fox took the weighing bowl. He devised a clever plan. He stuck the gold coin he found in the dump into a crevice of the bowl. The fox came back that evening to return the weighing bowl.
“Oh,” said the fox. “We had a hard time weighing all that gold.”
“It’s hard to believe this fox needs such a big weighing bowl to measure the hammermill king’s gold,” thought the king. He struck the bowl with his hand. It made a hallow sound and the gold coin fell out of the crevice of the bowl. The king picked it up.
A couple of days later, the fox came back to ask another favor of the king. He said, “My hammermill king has a quantity of precious jewels and natural pearls. Please loan me your weighing bowl again and I’ll bring it back tonight after weighing them. The fox picked up the large bowl and went away. The fox was able to find a pearl. He stuck it into another crevice of the weighing bowl. He brought it back that evening.
“Oh,” said the fox. “We nearly died weighing all those precious jewels.”
Later, the king slapped the bowl and a precious pearl fell out of one of the crevices. The king was stunned. He thought to himself. “How much wealth must this hammermill king have? He needs such a big weighing bowl to measure his gold, precious jewels and pearls.”
Several days passed. One day the fox came to see the king to arrange a marriage. The fox: “The hammermill king has a desire to marry. He would like to marry your daughter.”
The king became very pleased. He felt like the whole world belonged to him.
“Go right away,” he said. “Go quickly. See that all the preparations are made for the wedding.” The king’s place was turned upside down in the excitement of preparation for the marriage. Everything down to the finest detail was made ready. The fox rushed back to the hammermill king. He wanted to give him the good news (the way to announce good news in Armenian is to say “may your eyes light up” – ahckuht louyees).
The fox said, “Well, well, my friend, I asked the king to let you marry his daughter. He agreed. Get ready. You are going to get married now.”
“My God,” exclaimed the hammermill king. “May your house crumble to the ground, you crazy fox.” (kou dounut kahntvee – may your house crumble to the ground is a phrase of disapproval in Armenian).
“What have you done,” said the frightened miller. “Who am I to merit marrying the king’s daughter.” (when making a comparison of two unequal things or persons in Armenian, one says: yes ohv, tahkavoreen aghckuh ohv – who am I and who is the king’s daughter).
“I have no income, no house or property, and no decent clothes. Now tell me, what am I to do?” (votch ahbrusst ounehm, votch dounn ou degh, votch mee tzehrk shohr. Heemee yes inch ahnehm?)
“Don’t be afraid, I’ll make all the necessary arrangement,” said the fox. He tried to allay the anxiety of the destitute miller. The fox ran back to the king’s palace. He spoke with the king. “Oh my god, the hammermill king organized a grand procession to come here for the marriage. On the road, a large number of enemy soldiers suddenly surrounded the king’s procession, killed many of the king’s guards and stole everything of value. Fortunately, the king escaped unharmed and is hiding in an abandoned mill on the bank of a creek. He sent me to give you the bad news and also fetch some clean clothes to get married. After the marriage, he wants to get revenge for such an insult by giving hot pursuit of the perpetrators. The king immediately got everything ready for the fox to deliver to the hammermill king. He ordered a large contingent of his mounted soldiers to accompany the fox so that his future son-in-law could be escorted with royal pomp and honor to be married.
The fox and the soldiers arrived at the door of the dilapidated mill. The poor miller quickly took off his rough sheepskin coat and put on the royal clothes. He mounted a stately horse . He was surrounded by the mounted honor guard. Ahead of him were the mounted soldiers and behind as well. The procession parted toward his future father-in-law’s palace. They arrived at the richly endowed palace. The poor miller had never seen such dazzling opulence. He stared at all four corners of the palace with an air of confusion, his mouth open and at times touching and looking at his royal clothing in disbelief and astonished beyond his wits.
“Brother fox, why is your king staring at everything as if he has never seen a royal house,” asked the king? “It seems as if your king has never seen a palace before nor worn royal robes.”
“No sire, it is not that at all,” replied the wily fox. “He is observing carefully and comparing your palace and possessions to his and thinking how extensive his opulent possessions are compared to yours.” (teh eehr ounehtzadzuh vohr degh, ehss vor degh – his opulence is so much and this your’s seems so little)
They sat down for a royal dinner. Many different types of foods were served. The simple miller couldn’t choose which one to eat, nor how to eat it.
“Why is he not eating, brother fox,” asked the king?
“He is sadly reflecting on the robbery that took place when he began he was coming here. You can’t even imagine, my dear sire, how valuable were the things that were stolen, and how nasty and demeaning is was for my king. How can he eat in peace now,” said the fox with a sigh of frustration.
“Don’t fret for that, leave your worries aside, my dear son-in-law. This is the way of the world. Sometimes these things happen.” The king tried to console his son-in-law. “This is your wedding! Let us be happy. Let’s have a good time now.”
They began to regale with joy. They ate, drank, play musical instruments and dance. They continued the marriage festivities for seven days and seven nights. The fox became the best man for the hammermill king.
After the wedding festivities, the king gave a huge dowry for his daughter to his son-in-law. With great pomp and merriment the king accompanied the newly weds to the palace of the hammermill king.
“All of you proceed together. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. I’ll go ahead and get everything ready at my king’s palace for your grand reception there,” said the best man. The fox ran as fast as he could until he reached a pasture where a large herd of cows were grazing. He asked the cow herders, “Who owns these cows?” They answered, “Shah Mar.”
“Don’t you dare repeat Shah Mar’s name again!” said the fox. “My king is very upset with him. He is coming behind me with a large army. Whoever repeats the name of Shah Mar will have his head cut off. If you are asked who these cows belong to, say the hammermill king. If you don’t, the devil will take you to hell.” (teh cheh, vaduhn (sadahnahn – devil) yegehl eh tehz dahnehl – if not, misery will be your lot (literally misery will take you)
The fox continued to ran faster and faster. He saw a flock of sheep mounting the steeps of a mountain.
He asked, “Who do these sheep belong to?â”The sheepherders answered, “Shah Mar.” The fox instructed the sheepherders in the same way as the cowherds.
The fox continued to run and run He came upon vast cultivated agricultural fields with the farmers and laborers working.
“Who do these fields belong to?” asked the fox. They said, “Shah Maree.” The fox instructed the farmers in the same way.
He ran and ran. He encountered expansive fields of hay. “Who do these fields belong to?” asked the fox.
The hay gatherers said, “Shah Mar’s.” He instructed them as he did the others.
The fox finally reached Shah Mar’s palace.
“Shah Mar, O Shah-Mar,” called the fox as he ran toward to king. “May your house not be destroyed. You are innocently unaware of the evil that is looming. The king is upset with you. He is approaching your palace with a large army bent of killing you and pillaging everything you have and leaving only desolation and despair. You may not remember, but once I ate a little chick in your company. I have never forgotten your generosity and the good taste of that meal. That is why I have come running in great haste to give you this dire news. You must quickly get out of here by any means before that terrible tyrant reaches your palace.”
“What can I do? Where will I go?” asked the frightened Shah Mar. He could see the rising cloud of dust of a large number of men and horses of the invading king in the horizon.
“Run, get away as fast as possible with a sturdy horse. Go far away from this doomed land, and don’t look back.”
Shah Mar mounted his best horse and escaped as fast as he could from his domain
The wedding party and the troops approached the palace of Shah Mar. They were sounding off trumpets, banging on drums, singing as loud as possible while surrounded by a huge contingent of mounted and armed soldiers. The riflemen continually shot rounds of bullets into the air. There was am awful din of noise.
The hammermill king and his wife were riding in a gold-plated chariot There was a multitude of soldiers in front and back of their chariot. The troops reached a large field where they saw a herd of cows pasturing. The mounted troops asked the cowherd men: “Whose cows are these?”
“The hammermill king’s cows,” answered the cowherds.
They continued on their path. They arrived at a large area of cultivated land.
They asked the farmers: “Who owns these abundant fields?”
“The hammermill king,” they replied.
They continued on and reached the vast fields of hay.
They asked the laborers: “Who is the owner of these fields?”
“The hammermill king,” they replied.
All were astonished. The hammermill king was on the verge of losing his mind. He couldn’t believe his ears.
The troops arrived Shah-Mar’s palace. The best man fox was already established as the master of the palace. He had made all the appropriate preparations and received the honored guests and newly found relatives. They all began the joyful festivities.
For seven days and seven nights they enjoyed themselves royally. After the festivities ended the guests returned to their kingdom. The hammermill king along with his wife and his best man, the fox, live now in Shah-Mar’s palace. Until this very day, Shah-Mar is still running frightened out of wits of the hammermill king.
An Armenian fable – The wolf and the lamb
There was a lamb that lived in a garden and shed
She ate green grass and was well fed
One day a wicked wolf entered her world
Grabbed her soft body, but no one heard
The lamb fell on her knees cried and said
I have no strength to oppose you, I’m dead
But before I go please grant me a last wish
Which will give me solace before your death kiss
“I’ve heard from my elders wolves can trumpet so sweet
That the melodies they play and croon are a real treat
Please, trumpet for me a tune that will prepare my eternal rest
That I may go with the sound in my ears and be forever blessed.”
The wolf was flattered, he curved his neck upward, began to howl
Frightful sound that alerted the guard dogs who came with a growl
The dogs bit the wolf who ran away as fast as he could
Across the field, over the hill into the dark thicket and wood.
The wolf circled this way and that lamenting his foolish vanity
“When did a butcher become a trumpeter? What insanity!
If I want to eat a tasty lamb, I shouldn’t be delayed by flattery
But lo is me, I have been outsmarted by the lamb’s chicanery.”
The tiger and the fox
vahkruh yehv ahghvehssuh
ahnohtee vahkruh vohrss guh puhnduhrehr. ahghvehss muh puhrnetz
A hungry tiger was looking for prey. He caught a fox.
toun chehss guhrnahr zees oudehl, uhsahv aghvehssuh
“You cannot eat me,” said the fox.
“Why,” said the tiger
meetheh toun chehss keedehr aiyt
“Perhaps you don’t know why,” said the fox.
“No, I don’t,” said the tiger.
vohr aiytbehss eh. yehghour yehrthahnk, yehv toun beedee dehssnehss teh eenchbes pohlohr
gehntaheenehruh sahssdeek vaghtzahdz guh pakhcheen eentzmeh, uhsahv ahghvehssuh
“It is like this. Come, let’s go and you will see how all the forest animals are
horribly frightened and run away from me,” said the fox.
yehv ahnohnk meeahsseen katzeen ahndahruh.
And they went together into the forest.
eerok pohlohr kahzahnnehruh guh pakhcheheen.
In effect, all the wild animals fled on sight.
paiytz vahkruh chee hahguhtzahv vohr ahnonk eermeh guh vakhnahyeen.
But the tiger did not understand that they (the animals) were afraid of him.
ahn gahrdzehtz teh pohlohruh ahghvehessehn guh vakhnahyeen, eehnkuhn ahl toghoutz ahghvehessuh yehv hehratzahv
He thought that all(the animals) were afraid of the fox. He also left the fox and went away.
It doesn’t sleep well in my mind.
Khelkis chi bargeerah
My Uncle Kevork would sometimes use this diplomatic phrase to free himself from an impending obligation like loaning money. He was once invited to dinner by an Armenian family, whose business was expanding. They were also on the brink of bankruptcy because of not being able to supply their customers. They invited Uncle Kevork for an old fashion Armenian dinner and honored him in many ways so that he would consent to loan them money. Uncle Kevork had worked hard and gradually built up a savings. After dinner, the hopeful business family proposed their plan for developing their growing business and asked Uncle Kevork if he could loan them money. He deftly said “Khelkis chi bargeerah” which means literally (what you are telling me) does not sleep well in (the bed of) my mind or, I don’t quite understand what you are telling me. The business men tried over and over again to explain their proposal so that all aspects of the business venture were clear. Uncle Kevork’s only reply was khelkis chi bargeerah, which amounts to a polite, yet frustrating way of saying no. He did not want to say no directly, so he kept insisting that his mind could not comprehend their proposal. Uncle Kevork was never invited again by that family for an old fashion Armenian dinner.
My mother once gave me her accumulated wisdom about how to deal with people who might approach me for borrowing money. She told me, if ever anyone asks you to borrow money, take out your handkerchief and begin to cry. Don’t stop crying until they go away. She asked, “Do you have a handkerchief?” I said no. “Immediately get one” she said. This was actually good advice.