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Hovhannes Tumanian: The Hunter That Lied

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Translation of story by Hovhannes Tumanian

I swear by my father’s holy baptism and by my mother s birth, we got up one day, five or six of us, and went hunting with sword and gun. There was Hadi, there was Hyudi, there was Chati, there was Mati, there was my father and me, and together we went hunting.

We went straight across mountains and valleys, walking without a word where there was game, crawling without a sound where there was danger.

We walked on and on until suddenly we saw three lakes, two of them dry and the third with no water at all. As we looked we suddenly noticed in the waterless lake three white ducks swimming, two of theni dead and the third not alive at all.

“Hadi, come on, shoot!”

“I’ve no gun.

“Hyudi, come on, shoot!”

“Neither have I.”

“Chati. . .I’vlati.

“Neither have we.

“Then what’s to be done?”

My father held a long, short, thick, thin slick in his hand. He lifted it to his shoulder, took aim and fired... Bang.... He fired and I hit. As I hit it, the duck sprawled —each wing four metres long.

“Hadi! Give me a knife!”

“I have no knife.”

“Hyudi, a knife!”

“Neither have I.” ‘‘Chati. . . lVIati. . “Neither have we.

“Then what’s to be done?”

My father had one but without a blade. We drew this bladeless knife. Hadi tried to cut, but couldn’t. Hyudi tried, but couldn’t. Chati tried, but couldn’t. Mati tried, but couldn’t, and neither could my father. I seized the knife and slew the chick.

I slew it and laid it on the ground. That was no duck! More like a buffalo! Hadi tried to lift it, but couldn’t. Hyudi tried to lift it, but couldn’t. Chati couldn’t, Mati couldn’t, and neither could my father. I grabbed it and lifted it onto my shoulder and off we set.

We walked on and on, until we came to a place and saw three villages. Two were not to be seen at all and the third one had not a single house. We looked around in this lifeless village and found a house where three old women lived, two of them dead and the third not breathing.

“Lads,” we said, “let’s prepare this duck with rice.”

The old woman who wasn’t breathing searched here, there and everywhere and found half a grain of rice and three pots, two of them with holes in and the third with no bottom at all.

We filled the bottomless pot with water, added the rice and duck and cooked the whole without a fire. It cooked and cooked. The meat and rice boiled away and only the water remained.

Ravenous after the hunt, we fell upon the meal. We ate and ate, but our eyes saw nothing and nothing entered our mouths.