Azeri Observer - - Story Azeri Observer -

He was a colonel, which sounded like “al­bay” in Turk­ish and “polkovnik” in Rus­sian. This morn­ing colonel Mastaliyev tried to wake up, but he could not.

He thought that it might be the death an­gel that was go­ing to ex­am­ine him.

No, he was not the kind of man who would sur­ren­der to the death an­gel so eas­ily. He tried to move, but his en­tire body, even his fin­gers were mo­tion­less.

He put his el­bow on the ground and tried to raise his head, but his limbs were just like pieces of meat, life­less and ap­a­thetic. He tried to cry, and wake all the fam­ily mem­bers, but his lips were frozen.

He groaned for him­self, but there was no voice. Al­though his eye­lids and lashes were closed like a heavy iron lid over his eyes, he still could see. Sud­denly he no­ticed the death an­gel in black hid­ing his face like an Ar­me­nian priest. He tried to take his hand­gun from un­der his pil­low, but in vain, his arms were un­moved.

“Do not try to do any­thing; it’s your end” mur­mured the death an­gel and took him like a dead mouse and threw him into a dark and deep well. This well did not lead to the ground, but to heaven. He couldn’t re­mem­ber how he went as he had lost all sense of time and space. He got to a place which was il­lu­mi­nated with bright lights, and three an­gels in white with long white beards came out of these lights.

They greeted colonel Mastaliyev and in­tro­duced them­selves as the an­gels ques­tion­ing the peo­ple com­ing to the heaven. They were mea­sur­ing peo­ple’s bad and good ac­tions in their elec­tronic scales and then en­ter­ing it in their com­puter.

Colonel Mastaliyev wanted to tell them that he was a lawyer by pro­fes­sion and knew ev­ery pro­ce­dure con­cern­ing to ques­tion­ing. But he couldn’t even open his mouth.

When the an­gels smiled he re­al­ized that they didn’t use their tongues and voices to speak; they were speak­ing through minds and ideas. They can read minds.

“Oh… What an easy way of ques­tion­ing… Easy as pie! Poor us, we are ques­tion­ing peo­ple with threats and dif­fer­ent kinds of tor­ture and then the de­fen­dant de­nies his words in the court again.” The ex-colonel thought to him­self. To him the past days were gone.

First be­gan the an­gel who was re­spon­si­ble for the good ac­tions:

- Now tell us, what good things have you done?

Colonel Mastaliyev was glad to hear the

ques­tion. He had pre­pared for this day be­fore­hand. Like all the Mus­lim mul­lahs who want huge sums of money for funeral rit­u­als like read­ing the “Yasin” prayer and wash­ing the dead body be­fore the burial and think­ing they will go to heaven af­ter death, Mastaliyev had also pre­pared some­thing that would help him to go to heaven. When his pock­ets were full of money he spent at least very small amount of it for good in­ten­tions. Think­ing of this he be­gan to give his re­port:

- I spent a part of my in­come for God, for re­li­gious pur­poses: I paid for the con­struc­tion of two mosques and the re­con­struc­tion of three tem­ples. I helped ten refugee fam­i­lies and gave money to an or­phan­age till the day I died. I never met beg­gars with empty hands. Ev­ery time I had an­i­mal sac­ri­fic­ing in Kur­ban Bayrami (re­li­gious Holy­day in Mus­lim so­ci­eties) I gave the meat to the poor.

I went on Hajj and helped many of my friends and rel­a­tives to go on Hajj. And I’m stat­ing the great things I’ve done; I haven’t talked about lots of small char­ity work yet. If I had known I would die and be ques­tioned by you, then I would have pre­pared a long list.

The an­gel of good deeds con­firmed all the things he said. The an­gel sit­ting in the mid­dle of them (it seemed he was the head of them) turned to Mastaliyev and gave his ques­tions about why he never prayed and ate dur­ing the fast. Mastaliyev felt that his throat dried:

- You are ab­so­lutely right, Your Majesty. But the prob­lem is, I lived dur­ing the Soviet pe­riod and I was a com­mu­nist. You know I would get fired from work au­to­mat­i­cally if I prayed and fasted in those times and my chil­dren would starve.

- This is clear, let’s pass to the next stage, - The head of the an­gels turned to the one in his left. The an­gel in the left asked fu­ri­ously:

- Hey you, guilty man, now tell us about the bad things you have done.

- Guilty man? – Mastaliyev stam­mered, - Well, nat­u­rally ev­ery­one has guilt. Like all the hu­mans I have sins, but they are small and unim­por­tant. I drank al­co­hol, but in a nor­mal way. I know our Prophet’s quote stat­ing “to overuse al­co­hol is for­bid­den” and I tried to com­ply with that. Some­times I told lies to my wife, cheated on her. I worked for the govern­ment so I had to do all the or­ders they gave no mat­ter if they were bad or good. I think for the ac­tions that I stated last you must blame the high of­fi­cials, not me. That’s all, - he said and kept si­lence.

- Try to re­mem­ber the per­sons you got money from, re­mem­ber the bribes you took; con­fess vol­un­tar­ily or we’ll call the wit­nesses.

- Your Majesty, please do not use pres­sure against me. Take into con­sid­er­a­tion that I’m a lawyer and worked as a high of­fi­cial. I didn’t come to this level by my­self; my God helped me. Now I de­mand you to state the ac­cu­sa­tion and your items clearly and call your wit­nesses, then I’ll an­swer the ques­tions.

The an­gel writ­ing down his bad ac­tions smiled iron­i­cally:

- The wit­nesses are your hands, your fin­gers, your eyes and your ears. They carry with them­selves what you have done. Now they will tell us how your hands beat peo­ple,

how your fin­gers wrote un­fair rules and or­ders, how they counted money taken as a bribe, and your eyes and ears will tes­tify.

- It seems you drew them to your side and made them spy on me. I want a pe­ti­tion; nei­ther my rel­a­tives nor the or­gans of my body can tes­tify against me in court. This is be­yond all eth­i­cal norms, be­yond all earthly and heav­enly rules. It is a shame!

Af­ter the hint of the head an­gel, the ques­tion­ing an­gel started to bring ar­gu­ments:

- Do you feel guilty for sleep­ing with your rel­a­tive’s wife, caus­ing her hus­band to com­mit sui­cide?

The ques­tion was like a slap in the face but he did not lose him­self.

- No..!...Be­cause, I wanted to help him to find a job and to buy a house... He was liv­ing in a refugee camp. His wife was beau­ti­ful and I was a colonel with a well- built body. We wanted each other. I could black­mail her hus­band. His wife de­served a rich gen­tle­man, not to wash the dirty socks of a poor math teacher work­ing at a refugee school. When his wife told the truth he went crazy. I told him ei­ther to di­vorce his wife or to find a good job for him­self. He asked how. Then I told him to be ready to hu­mil­i­ate him­self be­fore oth­ers if he wanted to get a good job and money. I ad­vised him to use the op­por­tu­ni­ties I of­fered. He did not agree and com­mit­ted sui­cide. How­ever, I acted as a real man. I was tak­ing care of her as much as my own wife. But you did not let me; I mean death did not let me.

- You took a bribe from the mur­derer and ar­rested an­other man in­stead of him. Who should be blamed for this?

- Your Majesty, the minaret of the mosque that I con­structed was un­fin­ished; I needed money to fin­ish it. If I did not take the bribe, I would never have been able to do the good deeds you men­tioned here. Be­fore I died, I had a con­ver­sa­tion with a re­li­gious man who com­plained about poverty. He told me that it is im­pos­si­ble to live with your nor­mal in­come; I mean it is not enough to help the poor or to do char­ity work. That is why he is obliged to be in­volved in some ex­tra work like small busi­ness. Peo­ple do not un­der­stand you and say bad things about you. I mean if you want to help poor peo­ple, you should have ex­tra in­come. Peo­ple call this ex­tra in­come a bribe. You don’t know what it feels like when you take bribe - he said with his eyes shin­ing- they bring it and put it on your desk; you don’t give tax or pay so­cial in­sur­ance for this. So you have ex­tra money for help­ing the poor and or­phans. Oth­er­wise, you can never do char­ity work if you live on your salary. Be­cause your salary is not enough, even to cover your own ex­penses. Imagine that a teacher, a sci­en­tist or a worker want to help their sick neigh­bor who needs to be cured in a for­eign coun­try. Can they send the pa­tient to Ger­many or Turkey for treat­ment with their salary? Never! I de­mand you to judge me fairly and not to blame me for tak­ing bribes. All rich men in the world have made their for­tune in this way.

See­ing that the an­gels did not pay at­ten­tion to his long mono­logue, he changed his tac­tic:

- Dear An­gels, I tried to help you be­fore my death. I ar­rested thieves, mur­der­ers and

other crim­i­nals.

The head an­gel was tired of his bor­ing speech and raised his hand to show him to keep si­lence. Then three an­gels dis­cussed some­thing among them­selves. Mastaliyev lis­tened to them but could not un­der­stand any­thing. He re­al­ized that the an­gels had their own way of speak­ing which was com­pletely un­known to him.

Fi­nally the head an­gel an­nounced with a se­ri­ous ex­pres­sion on his face.

- Poor mis­er­able man! You can go nei­ther to Heaven nor to Hell! For peo­ple like you we need new rules to be pre­pared. There­fore, we do not ac­cept you into our world; we are send­ing you back to your own world. Try to change your ways and clean your­self of your sins on the Earth.

- Dear An­gel, I came here with dif­fi­cul­ties. Please do not kill me twice. I’m so re­laxed here that I don’t feel the pain of my legs, my neck and my heart. Do not send me back. You could give me a small place be­tween Heaven and Hell where I could clean up my act. It is bet­ter to stay here and clean up than go­ing back to the Earth, where they never let you stay in­no­cent, Mastaliyev be­gan beg­ging to the An­gels, - and they have al­ready found a per­son for my place in the min­istry. Even my wife doesn’t want me back.

- There is no space in the place you want to stay. Thou­sands of peo­ple are wait­ing for their turn. You have to re­turn to the Earth!

He was thrown back into the deep well again. He tried to move his hands and feet to re­sist…Sud­denly he felt that he was able to move his limbs and feel his pain again…He re­al­ized that he had re­turned. Rais­ing his heavy eye­lashes, he opened his eyes. He was glad to see him­self in his bed in­stead of a grave.

He re­mem­bered ev­ery­thing that hap­pened to him in the other world. “So the money I spent for buy­ing Heaven was spent in vain. No, I have to re­form my­self to re­turn their va­lid­ity...” He was star­tled at this thought and raised his head: “How? Should I go to prison to clean my­self from my guilt? Or should I wait for the or­der from Heaven about my ar­rest?”

The last thought made him shiver. What could he do? Who could he share these things with? Maybe he had a ter­ri­ble dream…

Who could he ask about this? Should he ask re­li­gious men about the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of this dream? He shook his hand hope­lessly: “They are all greedy bas­tards and guilty from head to toe.” They took money from him de­ceiv­ing him that it would be used for char­i­ta­ble rea­sons. Should he go to for­tunetellers? No, they can’t be in­volved in the An­gels’ work. Oth­er­wise, they would be an­gry with him.

Then hold­ing his head with his hands be­gan to speak to him­self:

- But how can I change my ways? Should I write a res­ig­na­tion let­ter and leave my job vol­un­tar­ily? Or should I go to prison? Should I pray to God to re­lieve me of my guilt? Will those An­gels hear my voice then? Is it pos­si­ble to be hon­est by pray­ing?

Hear­ing his hus­band’s voice his wife en­tered the room. They were sleep­ing in sepa-

rate rooms. Mastaliyev didn’t see her as he was deep in thought.

- I don’t have a soul friend to open my heart to. The mother of my chil­dren is ter­ri­ble. If she had a chance, she would eat my head off. Where are you, my sweet­heart?!

His wife re­mained pa­tient to see the rea­son for his state.

- Don’t worry if the en­tire world turns to be an en­emy for you. You are happy if you have a sweet­heart who lis­tens to you, - Mastaliyev sobbed, - “where are you, my sweet­heart...My Su­san, my beau­ti­ful flower, come and save me from this death an­gel!”

The wife couldn’t bear it any­more and went crazy. Be­cause his hus­band re­mem­bered his first love, the girl named Su­san, and be­sides the woman no­ticed that Mastaliyev used the phrase “death an­gel” when he re­mem­bered her. “Wait, I’ll show you!”

She looked for her tra­di­tional weapon, the floor mop, but could not find it. Sud­denly she no­ticed the stick for scratch­ing backs hang­ing from the hook. She grabbed the wood, rushed at her sleepy hus­band and hit him in the face. Mastaliyev was star­tled and thought it was the death an­gel stand­ing on his head with his fork. He rushed out of the door in his pa­ja­mas cry­ing wildly. He was so scared that he for­got his hand­gun un­der the pil­low and didn’t even see his wife. At the door he met his son who asked him sur­pris­ingly:

- Dad, what hap­pened, why are you cry­ing?

- Death An­gel..! The Death An­gel came to kill me again... He killed me last night and took me to Heaven but they didn’t ac­cept me. Now he came again to take me to Hell!

When he looked in the di­rec­tion his fa­ther pointed he saw his mother stand­ing there with the stick in her hand and grum­bling, and he couldn’t help but laugh. His fa­ther was a colonel for the whole town, but just a hus­band for his mother, that’s all.

Since his child­hood he used to hear his par­ents quar­rel over this topic. His fa­ther loved an Ar­me­nian girl named Su­san when he was a stu­dent.

But as the girl’s mother was busy with the old­est pro­fes­sion of women, his grand­fa­ther made him marry his friend’s daugh­ter.

From his mother’s fights it was ob­vi­ous that Mastaliyev had con­tacted Su­san even af­ter the Ar­me­ni­ans moved from Baku.

He was go­ing to Kislovodsk (Rus­sia) un­der the pre­text of treat­ment.

He never in­ter­fered with his par­ents’ work and thought this was one of their fights which hap­pened be­cause of his mother’s jeal­ousy.

But then he no­ticed the pale­ness of his fa­ther’s face and hor­ror in his eyes and re­al­ized that the sit­u­a­tion was se­ri­ous. He hinted to his mother to keep silent, brought cold wa­ter for the colonel and ad­vised him to go to his bed.

- No, never, the Death An­gel is wait­ing for me there!

Then he had no other way out but to lay him on the sofa in the din­ing room, mea­sure his blood pres­sure and pulse and give him some seda­tive drugs. But the hor­ror in his

eyes was still there. He couldn’t sleep for two days. Be­cause of the fear of the Death An­gel...He un­der­stood that the colonel needed spe­cial treat­ment by a psy­chi­a­trist. But tak­ing a high of­fi­cial like him to a psy­chi­a­trist would create un­pleas­ant ru­mors about him. Fi­nally they de­cided to take him to Childag . Thou­sands of peo­ple suf­fer­ing from hal­lu­ci­na­tions were cured here with burn­ing sticks and re­turned to their nor­mal state. How­ever, Mastaliyev was nor­mal enough to or­der to bring Childag to his house. They paid Childag work­ers to come to their house and the colonel was dabbed with burn­ing sticks. But it had no use. Look­ing at the sky, Mastaliyev was grum­bling:

- They didn’t let me to Heaven. The great­est un­fair­ness is in Heaven, the un­fair­ness on the Earth came from Heaven. The rich­est peo­ple in the world had made their for­tune in dis­hon­est ways and still they are con­tin­u­ing this way. They have cre­ated Heaven for them­selves on Earth by theft and rob­bery. Does any­one blame them for this?! No, this world must be de­stroyed! God didn’t create it right; he sup­ports the Death An­gel and Devils. He gives us 50 or 60 years to live which we spend strug­gling with dis­ease and pain. But in Heaven I didn’t feel my pain, I felt like I was fly­ing... light and free like a bird. Why? Be­cause they have cre­ated a com­fort­able world for them­selves and sent all the mal­adies and mis­ery for us!

Stand­ing by his hus­band’s bed, his wife was also grum­bling:

- Please, stop say­ing such words, God will pun­ish you for your words!. . You should be in a lu­natic asy­lum.

When he heard the word lu­natic asy­lum from his wife he was star­tled and it even seemed his con­scious­ness re­turned to him. “I would never go there.” But he could bring the lu­natic asy­lum to his house.

So, a lu­natic asy­lum was brought to his head­quar­ters; ev­ery morn­ing the psy­chi­a­trist and nurses came to give him medicines and in­jec­tions and got a good deal of money for this.

And one day his close friend vis­ited him and ex­plained that this was a kind of dis­ease that couldn’t be cured com­pletely. So he had to con­tinue his treat­ment reg­u­larly.

He also ex­plained that rich peo­ple are never called crazy. If you are a boss, if you are wealthy, ev­ery stupid word you use will be ac­cepted as a wise quote. As in a Rus­sian proverb: “If I am a boss, then I’m wise and you are stupid. If you are boss, then you are wise and I am stupid.” This idea re­stored his self-con­fi­dence. *** Mastaliyev con­tin­ued be­ing the boss in his of­fice. The main thing he had to re­mem­ber was to carry out the or­ders of his own boss. As for kind deeds, He stopped. He spent the money in­tended for char­ity on bosses higher than him to keep his po­si­tion. De­spite the fact that he was not cured in the lu­natic asy­lum, they knew he had a men­tal dis­or­der. And this was in their fa­vor …

Trans­lated by Leyla Salayeva.


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