An Ocean of Stories : Tale From Azerbaijan
The Tiny Boy and The Wide River
Drawings by SEED student: Harish Verlekar
Retelling of story © Copyright 2006 Laura Simms
A small and clever boy named Jirtdan lived in a village with his grandmother. Jirtdan means "tiny", which he was. Every day the boy helped his grandmother gather firewood and bring water from the river. But, one day at the start of the winter before the snow fell, the old woman invited all the children of the village to her house. She said, "My grandson is too small to gather and carry the firewood that is needed this season. If you will help, I will bake the most delicious cakes for each of you. Remember to take care of my tiny boy." The children happily agreed.
They traveled into a forest where they gathered and bundled piles of wood which they could carry on their shoulders. Little clever Jirtdan did no work. When the children complained he stated, "My grandmother is giving you baked goods so that I need not work." As they prepared to leave, carrying the heavy bundles on their back, the clever boy ordered the children to carry him as well. Again, he explained that his grandmother was paying them in cakes and breads.
The walk home was long and darkness soon fell. The children became lost and afraid. In one direction they heard a dog barking and in the other direction they saw the light of a house. Frightened by the creature, they set off for the light. The house they came to was empty and the tired children went inside in order to rest. No sooner were the bundles on the ground, then they heard the earth shake and the door open. Unbeknownst to them they had entered the house of a child eating Div, a kind of terrible monster. Smelling fresh flesh the Div cried out, "What meal has come into my house?"
As quick as their legs would carry them, the children rushed to hide. But the Div called out, "Why are you here? I will find you."
One boy answered, "We were gathering wood and became lost. We hoped to have shelter in your house." The hungry giant instantly devised a plan to trick the children and said in the friendliest voice he could, "Please spend the night in my bed. I am very lonely for good company." Slowly the children crept out from beneath tables and from behind the doors. The Div planned to eat them one at a time as they slept soundly in his bed. All the children climbed into the bed and fell fast asleep, except for clever Jirtdan who recognized the giant’s false voice. He did not go to sleep.
After a while the giant opened the door and whispered, "Who is still awake?" The tiny boy responded, "Jirtdan is awake." Annoyed the Div asked, "Why are you not asleep?" "I can not sleep. My grandmother always takes a sieve from the kitchen and fills it with fresh water from the river for me to drink. Then I fall asleep."
The Div was foolish and took the large sieve from the wall and went to the river. It had a hundred small holes. No matter how many times he dunked it into the river, the water dripped out.
Meanwhile the clever boy awoke the other children. They ran as fast as they could from the house of the Div to the river. The giant realized he had been tricked and grew furious. The little boy led the children into the water and they began to swim to the other shore. The Div was unable to swim.
Jirtdan called out, "Div if you want to follow us lift the mill stone by the side of the river and put it over your head. You will then stay afloat and can swim after us." The stupid giant saw lifted the great stone with a hole in the middle, put it over his ears and walked into the water. Within minutes the Div was drowned. It is said that his huge body is still in that river.
The children rushed home as fast as they could. The grandmother rewarded them with fresh baked cakes with sweet butter. And everyone celebrated the great victory of the tiny boy whose big mind outwitted the Div. After that no one complained that Jirtden did no work.
How about making a story bout the tallest boy in the world and the smallest river?