Azerbaijan International

Spring 2004 (12.1)
Pages 58-63

Yellow Bride (2001)

Elchin Ilyas Oghlu Afandiyev was born in Baku on May 13, 1943. He is the chairman of "Vatan" (Motherland) Society and a Deputy Prime Minister of the Azerbaijan Republic.

Writer and dramatist, he graduated from the Philology Faculty of Azerbaijan State University and defended his Doctoral (Candidate) Degree on "Azerbaijani Literary Prose in Literary Criticism" (1970). His works have been translated into several foreign languages.

His books include: One of the Thousand Nights (Min Gejadan Biri, 1966); The Open Window (Achig Panjara, 1969)]; Trains Would Pass In this World (Bu Dunyada Gatarlar Gedar, 1974); History of a Meeting (Bir Gorushun Tarikhchasi, 1977); The Problems of Literary Criticism and Literature (monograph and articles, 1981); The Tale of a Nightingale (Bulbulun Naghili, 1983); Mahmud and Maryam" (1983); Five Minutes and Literature (Besh Dagiga ve Adabiyyat, 1984); White Camel (Agh Dava, (1985) and Death Order (Olum Hokmu,1987).

Lately he has been writing dramas. His play, Hello, I'm Your Uncle (Salam, Man Sizin Dayinizam) has been staged at Russian Drama Theater named after Samad Vurghun and his plays, Ah, Paris, Paris, and My Clever Mad Man (Manim Aghilli Dalim) have been staged at Azerbaijan's National Drama Theater.

He was awarded Honored Art Worker (1984) and Laureate of All-Union Lenin Komsomol Award (1982).

Yellow Bride (Sari Galin) is the name of one of the most popular mournful Azerbaijani traditional folk songs. To listen to the "Sari Galin" played on the Balaban, visit, search "Sari Galin". Click Audio, Aliihan Samadov.

Sari Galin was translated by Aytan Aliyeva and Aynura Huseinova and edited by Betty Blair.

· · ·

Art: Arif Alasgarov, Musical workshop, Black and white Lithograph, 1982. See

Then a heavy rain began to pour. This rain washed the dust and sand off everything - the slab stones of the mountains, the green slopes, the green branches of the scattered trees, bushes, and precipitous cliffs that extended out over the ravine. Below the ravine was a river flowing with snowy white foam.

Then one sound filled this expansiveness that had no beginning and ending. It was as if that foamy river flowing at the bottom of the ravine, those mountains, those dark green slopes all began to sing the lyrics to this melody

You don't braid the end of your hair,
They will not let me marry you.
I wish I had the chance to see
The face of my beloved
Oh, what can I do?
Oh, what can I do?
Yellow Bride

Then the heavy rain would stop, evening would fall, and all these places would get dark, but that sound - that music - would still linger on:

Along this valley,
Bring back the sheep, shepherd
I wish I had the chance to see
The face of my beloved
Oh, what can I do?
Oh, what can I do?
Yellow Bride

There was nothing attractive about the kebab house
2 known as Autumn Rain - except for its name. During Soviet times there had been a little car repair shop in one corner of the eight-storied building that was located in the 3rd Micro District of Baku. After the Soviet Union collapsed, some people took ownership of this shop and turned it into a Kebab House.

True, this Kebab House served delicious kebabs. But the residents of the building were put out by the smoke, the smell of kebabs, and rowdiness of the customers. The only pleasant thing about Autumn Rain was the mournful sound of the clarinet that was occasionally played there. When that happened, silence reigned. The sound of that clarinet evoked such deep feelings within the residents that they forgot the smell of kebab, the smoke, the loud, ill-mannered customers - at least, for a little while.

· · ·

Art: Vugar Muradov. Visit for contacts.

On that beautiful spring day, clarinet player Fatulla woke up early as usual, crawled out of bed and went to wash his face. His wife Firuza leaned her head out of the kitchen as if she were waiting for him.

"Fatulla, are you up?" she asked and then added, "I have something to tell you. Take a bath, then..."

She said these words in such a way that gave Fatulla a slight, but perceptible, heartache. There was some sort of helplessness and humility in her voice. While he was washing his face, such a man as Fatulla could hardly hold back the tears. In his heart, he cursed the world, because lately he had been thinking about his wife when she was young, without even knowing the reason why. At that time, she had two dark black braids that were as thick as her wrists and which almost reached to her ankles. Now her gray hair was dyed dark red with henna. At that time she had been such a slender and beautiful girl. It was as if she challenged both the Sun and Moon that she was brighter than they were. All the young boys in their block were interested in this girl with the braids. But among so many young boys, that girl with the braids had chosen Fatulla, who now was washing his face with an ache in his heart.

She had not chosen Fatulla to become her voice that sounded so helpless now - after 30 years, and to wear the same clothes to each of the five wedding parties that had been held in their apartment block one after another, to...
Fatulla could hardly keep from throwing the soap in his hand against his reflection in the mirror...

All right...


The others are in worse situations than you are...

Fatulla had been a dark, curly haired, self-confident youth who used to sit in the shade of the mulberry tree that was in front of their yard doors playing nard.
3 He would beat all young boys of their block at this game under the secret glances of the block girls, passing along the street or looking down on them from the windows. That the girl with braids chose him was as natural as the old men sitting there in the shade of the old mulberry tree on hot, exhausting summer days. It was only natural. There was nothing strange about this. Fatulla, with his good looks and noble manners, deserved that girl. But even at that time, the girl's father, hat maker Jafar had insisted on his daughter marrying a guy who played zurna.

Fatulla had come from a long line of musicians. His great grandfather, his grandfather, and his father were all famous balaban players
4 in Baku. Fatulla, himself, had played balaban when he was a child. Balaban had come to mean as much to him as water and air. He couldn't do without it. But when Jafar had dug in his heels, Fatulla had given up playing balaban and switched to clarinet.

For Jafar, it seems the clarinet was worthy of more respect than the balaban and, therefore, he agreed to allow his daughter to marry Fatulla.

Exactly 36 years had passed since then.

During all those year's, Fatulla had played that clarinet at so many wedding parties and ceremonies. That clarinet had earned the living for one big family - Fatulla, his wife and their five daughters. That clarinet had brought up those girls, enabled them to study and to marry.

During the Soviet times, there weren't so many musicians as there are now. But after its collapse, so many singers and musicians appeared that one wondered where were all these people had come from? How could independence give birth to so many musicians? And all of them were more electricians than musicians, because they were engrafting musical instruments to electricity and were making such noise, and wearing such strange clothes that in the end the only place left for Fatulla was the kebab house. The clarinet that used to make so much money for Fatulla now was dependent upon a few customers, who frequented the kebab house.

Rinsing the soap off his face, Fatulla didn't raise his eyes to look at himself in the mirror - this gray-haired, fat man whose moustache had turned snow white. But that moment it was as if the mirror had turned into a magnet and Fatulla's eyes turned into iron and the mirror began to attract his eyes.

You should look at me!
You should look at me!

· · ·

Norwegian Martinus Asbjørnsen had been working for about seven years as an assistant to the chief accountant of one of the oil companies in Baku. Though he loved Ibsen very much, he knew the Baku antique brokers better than the heroes of Ibsen. When he examined an antique and could sense its high profit, he got more joy than when listening to the music of his favorite composer Grieg.

True, now residents and brokers were not the same as they were about five-six years earlier. They had awakened. After the collapse of Soviet Union, the borders were opened, so foreigners who came to Baku used to buy antiques - Azerbaijani carpets, jewellery, bronze works and even paintings of contemporary artists for almost nothing. And then they would sell them abroad for 10 to even 100 times more. Or they would create rich and valuable personal collections for themselves at very low cost. That was the situation five or six years ago. Then new brokers appeared on the scene, the prices went up, but still, no matter how high the prices went, and how conscious the residents became, the prices of Eastern antiques in Azerbaijan were much cheaper than in Europe and the U.S.

Of course, this wouldn't last long. One had to take advantage of such opportunities. Indeed, if it had continued this way, after a few years nothing would have been left in Azerbaijan. But that was a problem of the future; let the people of that time and the Azerbaijani people themselves deal with such a problem.

By nature, Martinus Asbjørnsen was a smart, bright, efficient person. At the same time, he was very observant. First, he created a rich and expensive personal collection of Azerbaijani carpets and carpet goods. But soon he realized that one should not be satisfied with a personal collection and should start a business so he began to work conscientiously. In the course of several years, he learned both the official, as well as the illegal, sides of this business very well and made good money.

Both he and his friends would never have imagined that the Soviet Union would collapse one day and that its disintegration would bring them success. This short, bald, pot-bellied man would be so lucky in a country that had been unknown up until its collapse.

· · ·

When Firuza placed the food - the tea, butter, cheese and bread - on the table in front of him, he sensed that she was going to say something unexpected, so he asked, "You said you had something to tell me."

"First drink your tea, then I'll tell you," Firuza said.

When she said words like these, Fatulla knew that she would bring up something new. But what could it be? Would it be good news? Bad news? He didn't know.

Firuza wanted to talk to Fatulla as soon as possible, yet didn't dare. Fatulla thought that maybe there was some news about their daughters. But what could it be? If it were the news of a new grandchild, then there shouldn't be anything to be afraid of - it would be the sixth grandchild. But Fatulla couldn't think of any other reason.

As soon as he had had some cheese and bread, and drunk his sweet tea, he asked, "Well, what's up?"

Firuza answered, "NothingThank God, everything is all right!"

"But you wanted to talk to me"

Firuza came closer to him, took him by the wrist and pulled him after herself towards the front door of the room, which looked out to the yard.

They had been married for 36 years, yet every time Firuza's hand touched to his hand, it seemed to him that an electric current passed through his bodyas ifit was the hand of the same girl with the two thick braids. The warmth of that hand, the feeling which that hand brought

In front of the door of Fatulla's house there was an old grape vine of yellow shani
5 the trunk of which had become very thick. This tree was older than Fatulla. The residents of the block had lifted the branches of that vine over the roof of the one-storied building where Fatulla lived and created an arbor with the vine. When spring came, those branches would begin to leaf, and that shaded place on the roof became one of the most comfortable places of the block. Even during the terrible heat of summer afternoons, the sunshine could not penetrate because of the thickness of the foliage.

The grape leaves were so fresh. It was if it this were the first time, not the seventh or eighth, that it was bearing leaves. And the vine had such dark yellow shany grapes that Firuza was able to make 'abgora"
6 that lasted for the whole year. She would send her daughters buckets of the shany, which were as sweet as honey. She would pickle its leaves and prepare dolma7 in autumn and winter. In Fatulla's opinion, no one on earth could prepare such delicious dolma.
Firuza pulled Fatulla after her into the yard and showed him the grape leaves which had become as large as one's hand.

"Do you see, Fatulla?" She asked.

Fatulla was an artistic person, and he became excited when Firuza led him to the yard and showed him the branches of the grape vine, greeting them with a dark green smile that spring morning. Fatulla was tempted to hug Firuza in the middle of the yard as he had in his youth, but suddenly Firuza said, "You know, Fatulla, I want to say something, butdon't get angry"

Fatulla's heart trembled. He knew that what he was going to hear was something unpleasant.

Firuza continued, "Fatulla, you knowI wantI want to pick these leaves and sell them at the market"

At first, Fatulla thought he had misunderstood his wife, but when these words penetrated, the expression on his face changed so dramatically that Firuza's face turned pale.

"What?" Fatulla asked hoarsely.

"Calm down, Fatulla," said Firuza, "for God's sake, please don't get angry!"

Fatulla again asked with the same hoarse:

"My wife to sell grape leaves at the market?"

It was as if he wasn't questioning Firuza, but himself. In fact, he didn't question himself either, but some unknown creaturemaybe destiny? Maybe God? Who was he questioning?

He didn't know, but he was sure that he would rather have died than to have come to this moment of his life, which compelled the girl with the two braids to experience such deep need after 36 years.

Firuza was really frightened when she looked at Fatulla's eyes. Recently, Fatulla's blood pressure had been high (sometimes reaching as high as 110/170). Therefore, Firuza begged him from the bottom of her heart, "Fatulla, I beg you, I said it without thinkingI beg you, FatullaForget what I said, FatullaI swear, I'll never say anything like this again."

Firuza again took Fatulla by the wrist. This time, Fatulla abruptly pulled his arm away for the first time in 36 years. "Take your hand off me!" he said.

· · ·

Marilyn Johnson was 51, but she had never married. This black woman was rather obese. You can often meet such obese people in the U.S., and, of course, the reason for their obesity has to do with hormones in the food that they are eating.
Food was the main problem of Marilyn Johnson's life, and it became the main pursuit of her life as well. From this perspective, Marilyn Johnson was very pleased with her current job.

Marilyn Johnson was working as a cleaning lady in the home of Mr. Isaac Blumenthal, a very famous and influential banker. His apartment was located on the 23rd floor of the building directly in front of the Hotel Regal Plaza, near the United Nations in New York City. As both Mr. Blumenthal and his wife Mrs. Blumenthal paid special attention to their foods and didn't eat very much, much of food that was bought from the market and offered was left untouched. And all day long while working, Marilyn Johnson was eating food, which was ecologically very natural and, subsequently, expensive. It was like a mill grinding wheat.

Mr. and Mrs. Blumenthal didn't have any children. They were not talkative but rather calm, quiet people who loved a carefree life.

Mrs. Blumenthal had a snow-white poodle, and she talked more to her poodle than to either Mr. Blumenthal or Ms. Johnson. She often took her dog out for fresh air. She cleaned, washed, combed its curly hair, fed it herself, took it to a special hairdresser for dogs and had its hair cut in the latest fashion. So Ms. Johnson didn't have any problems in regard to the dog.

Mr. Blumenthal was well known in financial circles. At the same time, he was very well known as a collector of ancient musical instruments. After coming home from work and having a light dinner, he would spend his time until late in the evening in three separate rooms where he kept his collection in perfect order. He would take out one of the unique instruments in his vast collection, sit comfortably in an armchair, and go over each centimetre with a magnifying lens, checking various reference books and catalogs.

Mr. Blumenthal himself was cleaning and dusting the instruments in his collection, including a viola by G. da Salo, another viola by A. and N. Amati and two violas by Stradivarius. Therefore, Ms. Johnson was never afraid that she would accidentally drop or damage something...

· · ·

What had Firuza been guilty of? What had she done wrong? Nothing. Look, to what level you have brought this house so that Firuza has to think about selling grape leaves. When your father planted that vine in his yard, he would never have imagined that one day his son's family would be in such dire straits that his wife would think about selling grape leaves at the market. Of blessed memory Jafar, the father of that girl with the two braids, refused to let his daughter marry the zurna player (he was very right not allowing her to do it!) and then permitted to marry clarinet player (what a bad mistake!). Now, wouldn't he turn over in his grave, seeing his daughter's situation? Son of a stupid man, better go and hit your head against wall than to push Firuza's hand away! What can Firuza do?

Fatulla sat silently at the table, snapping his fingers. When he saw Firuza entering the room from the front door with her eyes red from crying, he hardly could keep himself from hugging her and saying, "It's not your fault; I'm the one that's so bad."

But he restrained himself, as he was afraid his eyes would well up with tears. Therefore, he didn't dare take his eyes off his fingers on the table. He simply asked, "What's up?"

Firuza didn't look at him either. She gathered the remainder of breakfast and said in a quivering voice, "The child will be circumciseddo you understand now?"

Stupid man, did you understand? She wants to buy a present for the child. How can she buy it? What can she do? May your clarinet strike your own head! What do you bring home? The money that you bring only covers your own food expenses.

In five days - Sunday-Fatulla's grandchild, who was 5 years old, would be circumcised. Therefore, Firuza had decided to buy a present for the child. When she thought about where to get some money, she could hope that she could sell some leaves of that old grape vine.

Did you understand, stupid man?

Of course, Fatulla was aware that the money he made at Autumn Rain was not sufficient for the household expenses, but he couldn't imagine that the situation had become so bad because he was giving all the money he earned to Firuza. She was dealing with the household expenses. Firuza never complained to Fatulla in order not to make him sad. Fatulla was doing his best. At his age, he was playing clarinet at the requests of kebab house customers. (Some of these clients were drunk, some were fighting and no one knows what kind of jerks the others were). What else could poor Fatulla do?
But even if the whole world were to turn upside down, Fatulla could not agree to his wife's selling grape leaves in order to buy a present for the circumcision party of his grandchild.

And then Fatulla came and stood in front of the buffet that Firuza had decorated with special care. He stared at the balaban that was on the top shelf of the buffet, protected behind glass. This balaban, the surface of which was made of silver, mother-of-pearl and turquoise, had been passed down to Fatulla from his ancestors. It was the most valuable thing in Fatulla's home. Once the newspapers wrote about this balaban. People had come from one of the museums to buy it, but Fatulla would not give it up. He felt that if he had sold this balaban, or given it to someone, he would have been disrespecting the memory of his ancestors.

Sometimes Fatulla felt that on that day when he gave up playing the balaban for the clarinet, this balaban took revenge not only against Fatulla, but against the whole world, too.

But sometimes - once or maybe twice a year - Fatulla would take this balaban from the buffet, go outside, sit out next to the man-made pond in front of the grapevine, and play "Sari Galin" on it.

Then as his fingers moved over the holes of the balaban, Fatulla felt that the balaban was becoming reconciled to him. And Fatulla also felt that since the last time he had put the balaban on the buffet, it had been waiting impatiently for this day - the holiday when "Sari Galin" would be played on it.

The museum workers had also read the Arabic script on the balaban that was written in mother-of-pearl in the Arabic language. Fatulla had written those words down on a piece of paper in the Cyrillic alphabet and placed it in front of the balaban, just like it's done in museums.

Year 923, Jamadiul-avval-6, Tabriz
Master Mohammed ibn Yusif ibn Mutallib

Mutallib was the name of the master who had made the balaban. Museum workers had calculated that this balaban, according to the Hijri calendar,8 had been completed on June 30, 1516.

Soviet times were different from now. The museums had more financial resources than they have now. At that time, museum workers had tried to buy Fatulla's balaban, but Fatulla would not sell it to them. He allowed them to take photos of it, to send these photos wherever they wanted to, to write whatever they wanted to about it, but the instrument remained on the upper shelf of the buffet and became more respected.

· · ·

Alakbar's apartment was four floors below Fatulla's. He was a copper smith. In former times, he had a small brass studio on Basin Street, near Tram Station No. 11. Then when that street was enlarged, his studio was destroyed so he had to live off tinning copperware.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a very strange thing happened. First foreigners, and then Baku brokers or middlemen suddenly appeared, like bees attracted to sap. They began to pay significant amounts of money for copper kettles, trays, samovars, and other copperware left in the dust in Alakbar's basement that turned out to be rare. After the copperware in his basement was all sold, Alakbar himself became a broker and Brazier Alakbar soon turned into one of the richest men in the block. He even bought himself a Mercedes. Indeed, this Mercedes had been manufactured in 1986, but still it was a Mercedes.

Alakbar had come three times to Fatulla's house, like a cat catching the whiff of meat. He wanted to buy that balaban. And every time he came, he upped the price he was willing to pay for the balaban.

The last time Fatulla had told him: "Alakbar, the door of this home is always open to you. But don't ever bring up this subject again". After this, knowing Fatulla's character, Alakbar never succeeded with the balaban issue.

The entire block, everybody who knew Fatulla, even Firuza thought that the clarinet meant so much to Fatulla. It was Fatulla's best friend - his heart's voice. All of these people and Firuza were right. Indeed, it was true.

But there was something deeper in Fatulla's heart. No one in the world, even Firuza, was conscious of it. The clarinet had meaning for him up to a point, but beyond that, nature's voice beckoned - the drone of the sea, singing of birds, the rustle of leaves.

One strange day in the evening, Fatulla was getting ready as usual to play nard with the men in his block, as they sat under the mulberry trees
9 in front of his door. Quite accidentally, he listened to the sound of the leaves of the trees, rustling in the light wind. It was as if that rustling sound became fixed in his mind. He couldn't forget it. As a baby discovers a taste for something new, he discovered that his clarinet could never imitate the voice of nature.

What were the leaves of those mulberry trees saying? Fatulla would not be able to explain it to anyone anyway because he himself didn't know what it was. But no musical instrument on earth could convey the secret of the rustle of the leaves of those mulberry trees.

Except the balaban. The balaban could do it with the song "Sari Galin". But Fatulla also knew that this was true only for Fatulla. A pianist might think that only a piano could express it. A viola player might think that only a viola could.
In any case, after that discovery, Fatulla was uneasy for a while. Not only the clarinet to which he had devoted his life but, in general, his whole life seemed empty and meaningless. That night Fatulla played nard half-heartedly and lost. But he had never told anyone about his discovery...

If Fatulla had been a piano player, any of his children - daughters or sons - could have followed his path. But even if the members of Fatulla's generation were not piano players, but rather kamancha
10 players, it would also have been possible for girls to play that instrument. But all his ancestors had been balaban players. It's clear that a girl would never play balaban.

· · ·

Maybe in his youth, after Fatulla had given up playing the balaban and begun playing the clarinet, maybe God had punished him by not giving him a son to follow in his path.

Even if that were true, it had been worth sacrificing everything for that girl with the two braids. If God didn't give her a son, may He bestow long life upon this woman and save her from trouble and grief.

· · ·

"Fatulla, I beg you, don't sell your balaban. I know you're selling it because of me, but don't do that. Fatulla, I made a mistake, the Devil misled me. I shouldn't have offended your pride. I beg you, Fatulla! Don't sell that balaban. You'll miss it every day, Fatulla"

Firuza begged him. She cried but she couldn't change Fatulla's mind.

· · ·

Everything happened so simply: Fatulla called Alakbar and sold that balaban decorated with mother-of-pearl for $1,750. Alakbar, in turn, sold the balaban for $2,250 to his client Martinus Asbjørnsen. (Alakbar could never memorize this man's name so he had written it down on a piece of paper - the name of this short, bald and pot-bellied man). Martinus Asbjørnsen then sold it for $7,000 to one of his clients in New York. Finally, the balaban arrived on Mr. Isaac Blumenthal's table.

Mr. Blumenthal fell in love with that balaban at first sight. He examined it very carefully, checked it, and learned from reference books that Mohammed ibn Yusif ibn Mutallib used to make musical wind instruments in the Middle Ages and was as brilliant an instrument maker as Stradivarius was. So he bought the balaban for $66,500 and placed it in his collection in the section of Oriental Musical Instruments.
Autumn had just begun in New York.
· · ·
Autumn passed. New York suffered a severe winter and then spring came. But the concrete, stone, and glass skyscrapers were not concerned about the winter that followed autumn, and then spring that followed winter.

In Mr. Blumenthal's apartment, life continued as in the past. Autumn passed in the same manner, then winter. Spring was on its way. Then summer would come and life would continue its same course in that stone, concrete, glass skyscraper, in Mr. Blumenthal's apartment, where even a speck of dust never changed its place.

Mrs. Blumenthal was still taking her poodle for walks, washing it, cutting its hair as usual.

After work, Mr. Blumenthal was having a light dinner as usual and poring over his collection. At that moment, there was nothing more important in life for him than his collection.

Ms. Johnson was cooking, cleaning, and washing something in the kitchen. Since she was alone at home most of time, she wandered the rooms, continuously eating, in search of something to do. As no one ever touched anything, everything always remained in its place. Even when they did touch something, they returned it to its original place. Ms. Johnson couldn't find anything to keep her busy, so if she hadn't had affection for food or food itself, life would have been very boring and meaningless for her.

On one of those days - a rainy, spring afternoon, something unprecedented took place in Mr. Blumenthal's apartment.
On that rainy, spring day, Ms. Johnson was again alone at home. She was again wandering around trying to find some work to do when suddenly she heard a sound. It was music, but something very strangeincomprehensibleat the same time very emotionalyesyes, veryvery haunting music. And it was coming from one of the rooms where the music collection was kept.

At first, Ms. Johnson thought that that sound had come from the television or radio. But Mr. Blumenthal, because he never wanted to be distracted, didn't allow a TV or radio to be put in those rooms. Confused, Ms. Johnson entered the collection rooms. It was obvious that the sound was coming from there.

Ms. Johnson opened the door and her already large eyes nearly popped out of her head.

One flute-like instrument was standing up, out of its place. It appeared as if were hanging from the ceiling by an invisible thread, looking through the window at the spring rain and playing an incomprehensiblehaunting and mournfulvery emotionalslow melody.

The next piece of food that Ms. Johnson tried to swallow got stuck in her throat and the incomprehensible scene in front of her eyes gave her such a terrible feeling that the poor black woman's curly hair stood on end.

The flute-like instrument was playing incomprehensible music in front of the window. Though that music was inexplicable, indeed it was haunting and touching. Sadness, languor and grief - all coming from that musical instrument - filled Ms. Johnson's large heart. The most terrible thing was that such feelings were totally alien to her heart.

On that rainy spring day, Ms. Johnson was afraid that that grief would become her own and inform her about the meaningless life that she had lived up till that time.

Ms. Johnson couldn't take her eyes off that flute-like instrument. It had become the symbol of sadness, grief, and languor itself.

· · ·

When Mrs. Blumenthal returned home, Ms. Johnson was still under the impression of what had happened. Stuttering from the excitement that had not yet passed, she quickly told her about it.

Mrs. Blumenthal listened carefully. Then she went with Ms. Johnson to the collection room and looked at the musical instrument that Ms. Johnson pointed at with an almost instinctive animal fear. Since the oriental musical instrument was in its usual place, she just looked carefully at Marilyn Johnson but said nothing.

In the evening, Mr. Blumenthal came from work and had his usual light dinner. But before going to his collection rooms, Mrs. Blumenthal told her husband the story. Since after stressed bank operations, Mr. Blumenthal was not willing to listen to stories of fantasy at home, in agreement with his wife, he fired Ms. Johnson.

· · ·

As Ms. Johnson was going down the elevator, she thought that maybe she had really become crazy. She wiped her eyes, which were red from crying. Maybe, it wasn't real, and the flute-like instrument's song was just a daydream.
But what about that grief? that sorrow? that sadness?

In addition to the horror of the phenomenon that she had seen and the pain of being fired, there was another feeling - an animal fear - gnawing inside her. This poor black woman was afraid that this sorrow, grief, and sadness would always remain with her.

Of course, it never entered the minds of Mr. and Mrs. Blumenthal that Ms. Johnson had told the truth. Nor could it enter poor Marilyn Johnson's mind that there was a remote country called Azerbaijan where the name of that flute-like instrument is balaban and the name of that incomprehensible, haunting melody is "Sari Galin" (Yellow Bride).

End Notes:

1 Lyrics to the popular folk song, Yellow Bride (Sari Galin), from which this story gets its title.

2 Kebab House is an Azerbaijani restaurant where the main cuisine features kebabs, typically made of lamb, chicken and sturgeon.

3 "Nard" is the Azeri word for backgammon.

4 Balaban is a traditional wind instrument that emits a low, mournful sound. Note the significance of Fatulla's future father-in-law insisting that he play the clarinet, a European instrument, instead.

5 The yellow "shani" is a type of grape that grows well on the Absheron peninsula in Azerbaijan.

6 "Abgora" is unripened grape juice, which is used as relish, vinegar or bakmaz-the reduced juice of grapes after it has been boiled down.

7 "Dolma" are grape leaves stuffed ground meat and / or rice.

8 Hijri calendar dates back to the origins of Islam, which began June 16, 622, when Mohammed journeyed from Mecca to Madina.

9 The balaban is often carved out of mulberry wood.

10 Kamancha is a traditional stringed instrument played with a bow.

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