Spring 2004 (12.1)
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
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 AZER.com, 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 Azgallery.org.
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 melody1:
You don't braid the end of your
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?
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?
There was nothing attractive about the kebab house2
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 AZgallery.org for
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
"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...
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
Fatulla had come from a long line of musicians. His great grandfather,
his grandfather, and his father were all famous balaban players4
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
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
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
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 shani5 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
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
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
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
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,
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
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 trees9 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
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 kamancha10
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
"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
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
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
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
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.
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).
Lyrics to the popular folk song, Yellow Bride (Sari Galin), from
which this story gets its title.
House is an Azerbaijani restaurant where the main cuisine features
kebabs, typically made of lamb, chicken and sturgeon.
"Nard" is the Azeri word for backgammon.
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.
The yellow "shani" is a type of grape that grows well
on the Absheron peninsula in Azerbaijan.
"Abgora" is unripened grape juice, which is used as
relish, vinegar or bakmaz-the reduced juice of grapes after it
has been boiled down.
"Dolma" are grape leaves stuffed ground meat and /
Hijri calendar dates back to the origins of Islam, which began
June 16, 622, when Mohammed journeyed from Mecca to Madina.
The balaban is often carved out of mulberry wood.
Kamancha is a traditional stringed instrument played with a bow.
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