"Mailbox" By Calil Mammadguluzadeh

It was 12th day of November. It was pretty cold. But there was no sign of snow. The doctor made khan’s ill wife last physical examination and answered that her general state was good, so it would be possible for them to make a trip in a week. Khan was in a hurry to go to Iravan because of very urgent business waiting for him there. Besides he was also afraid, that it might get snowing and weather became colder so, it would be impossible for his wife to made a trip.
Khan took his pen and wrote a short letter to his friend from Iravan Gafar aga with the following content:
“Dear friend, hopefully I will arrive to Iravan with my family in a week. I kindly ask you to have a look over our rooms, refresh and warm and of course order servants to kindle before our arrival so that there would be no disturbance for my sick wife. Reply to my letter via telegraph. I have put everything in order for your request.
Kindly your Valikhan.12 November.”
Folding the letter khan put it in an envelope writing the address on it and stamping. He wanted to call servant to maid the letter, but suddenly he remembered that he had send him for another matter. At that moment there was a knock at door. Khan went out and saw that it was Novruzali from his village “Itqapan” who knocked the door. This man often visits khan, and brings him some flour, spaghetti, honey, butter in his all visits. This time also Novruzali wasn’t an exception because seeing khan he put his stick against the corner of the door and began to open the another side of the door.
Opening the door Novruzali let the donkey entered the yard by saying “chochi-chochi” and taking three or four cockling chickens from the package, put it on the ground and unpacking the things and he dropped the full chuvals down, bowing looked at khan and greeted him. Khan also greeted him and said:
- Oh Novruzali! Why have you troubled yourself?
Opening the robes of the chuvals Novruzali answered:
Don’t say so, khan I will serve you till my death.
Saying these words Novruzali began to dust his clothes. An idea came to khan to give the written letter to Novruzali to put into mailbox, as an hour had passed since afternoon mail might be soon sent.
Khan asked his guest:
- Novruzali, Do you know where the post office is?
Novruzali replayed:
- I am a country man, How can I know where the post office is?v - Very well, do you know where the court-room is?
- Yes my dear khan, I know why not. Just last week I came to the chief to complain. Oh khan, I swear upon you head our katda tortures us very much. In fact our katda is from other tribe that is why he doesn’t like us. Last week my two calves were lost. I went to…
- Keep your talks for later. Listen what I am saying: There is a box hanging on the wall at the bid stone door in front of the court-room, that box is the mailbox. That box has little and long cover. Take this paper right now, raise the cover of that box, drop the paper into it close the cover and come back immediately.
Novruzali stretched both of his hands towards khan and took the paper for a while , looked at khan, then withdraw back to the walk and bending he wanted to put the paper on the bottom of the wall. Khan uttered loudly:
- Don’t leave it there! Don’t leave it there! You can dirty it. Take it quickly to drop into the mailbox and come.
- Khan I beg you, let me pull the back over the head of the donkey to feed it. Thought it is an animal I wouldn’t like it to be hungry, since it has walked a long distance.
- No, no never mind. It would be late to be mailed the letter. Pull the back over the head of the donkey later. - Then let me tie the donkey somewhere so that it wouldn’t gnaw the trees of your garden.
- No, no. It’s all right, run quickly drop the paper and come back.
Novruzali took the paper carefully and put it in his bosom and said again:
- Khan, I beg you the cocks are still on the grand, they are poor animals, please let me untie their legs and strew grain. I have brought grain too. Novruzali put his hand into his pocket and wanted to take out grain. Khan called out:
- No, no let them stay there. Run at a full gallop to drop the letter in the mailbox.
Picking his hand-stick Novruzali began to run as a child. Then an idea came to his mind, looked at khan he said:
-Khan, I beg you, there are some eggs in towel, watch out, don’t let the donkey to wallow and break the eggs. Khan was in patient about him and shouted:
- Don’t speak so much. Run to put the letter in the mailbox. Time is running out.
Novruzali was almost on his way, khan cried after him:
- Novruzali, don’t give the letter to a stranger by mistake. Don’t give it to anybody and don’t show it to anyone! Drop it in the mailbox and come back quickly.
Novruzali answered more loudly:
- Why should I give? I am not a child to give the letter to a stranger. Don’t think I’m naïve. Even the chief can’t take it from me.
Saying this words Novruzali started his way. Khan entered the room and said to his wife kindly.
- Well, the apple of my eyes let’s get ready. I have written a letter to Iravan asking them to get ready the rooms fir you. Now we can go. Mash Allah I think you got better. Further more the doctor thinks that change of climate is very important for you.
After khan’s talk with his wife for a while about the travel, the servant came in and asked khan:
- Khan, whose donkey is this, who has brought all these things?
- Khan answered:
- OK Lad put the things in order. Novruzali from Itqapan has brought us a gift.
The servant put the chicken and eggs to the kitchen, then took the donkey to the stable, close the door then coming back, opened the cover of the chuvals, took the pinch of flour and snow it to khan and said:
- Khan look, what good white flour!
Khan had a look at the flour and ordered the servant close the front door and laid the table.
The dinner lasted two hours. Only after dinner khan remembered that he had sent Novruzali to the post office. Khan called servant and asked about Novruzali and servant answered that the peasant hadn’t come back yet. Khan was wondering why Novruzali so late, but an idea come to his mind that having dropped the letter into the mailbox Novruzali went to bazaar to buy some food to eat or to do shopping. An hour passed but Novruzali didn’t show up. Khan called the servant and asks him to go to the post office and learn where Novruzali was and what caused him to be late so long. Not half an hour had passed by when the servant came back and said that he didn’t find Novruzali. Khan lit the cigarette and began walking to and fro in the balcony. Suddenly he thought that something could have being wrong with Novruzali. While he was thinking about him, police officer appeared at the door seeing khan, he said:
- Khan, pristav asks to come to police office and release him on jail. Otherwise the pristav will sent him into jail.
Khan was so surprise at his words that, he was under thunder strike. He stared at him for a while and couldn’t utter a word and said at last:
- My dear, he is a naïve person, what did he do that what made pristav to detain him? Yasovul answered:
- I know no more than that. You would better to go to the police office, poor that man.
Khan said nothing to his wife about it, not to disturb her. He put on his coat and went to police office, at first he look at prisoners room through the sky light and saw that poor Novruzali was sitting in the corner of the room with the prisoners and cry as a child and wiped his tears with the lap of his chukha.
Having learned all detail about the occasion from the pristav took bail for him and took Novruzali home. As soon as Novruzali entered the yard he began to cry, he pulled over the bag the donkey’s neck and squatted on the bottom of the wall. Khan entered the room, lit a cigarette, came to the balcony, called Novruzali and said:
- Now tell me everything Novruzali! What had happened! Your story should be very interesting. One can even write a book. Tell me everything in detail. Begin from the how you took the letter from here, till you were imprisoned…
Novruzali stood up, came up to khan, wipe his tears with a lap of his chukha and started:
- I beg you, khan, for your children sake forgive me. I am not quilty.I am a poor country man, I don’t have any notice about paper, box and mail. I beg you, khan, for your children sake. Never mind, if you leave me, I’ll serve you till the end of my life, I’ve made just a small mistake what to do. It’s just luck. Our god wanted it. It had to be so.
Forgive me, khan. I’m your slave till my death.
Having uttered these words Novruzali came up to khan a bit more and intended to kiss his feet. Khan drew back and said:
- Novruzali! Don’t worry. I don’t judge you. What evil have you done to me that I should forgive you?
- I beg you, khan, what more evil could I have done to you? I let that apostate to take the paper, put into the pocket and go away.
- Who took the paper into his pocket and went away?
- I mean that apostate, the Russian one.
- Where did he take it?
- He went in that house with the mailbox at the door.
Khan was a bit confused:
- Hadn’t you dropped the letter into the box?
- Sure I had! No sooner had I drop the paper into the box when the apostate came, opened the box and took the paper away.
- Weren’t there other letters beside yours?
- Sure. There were many papers. He took all of them.
Khan busted out of laughing.
- No, Novruzali, you have to narrate everything from beginning till end: how you took the paper, how you drop it into the box and why you fought with that russian guy.
- Khan I beg you, I took the paper and went to the court-room. I found the building and the box which you told me. I want to drop the letter into the box, but first, I had look to the paper and to the mailbox. To say the truth, I was afraid that you would be angry with me. Truly I didn’t know weather drop the letter into the mailbox or not. Because I hadn’t asked you if I should stay at the mailbox or come back. I thought that if I had to drop the letter into the mailbox and stay there, how long I should stay there. But, my dear as you saw that I went out without feeding the donkey and left the legs of chicken untied. I’ve brought a little bit flour. It is still staying here unpacked. I beg you, khan, my dear, it’s a suitable time, let the servant come and take chuvals into the home otherwise it will be raining and the flour may be soaked.
- No, Novruzali let them stay here. Tell, tell what happened?
- I didn’t dare to drop the letter into the mailbox. I closed the cover of the box and stayed aside. First, I wanted return and ask you but later, I was afraid that you will be angry with me. Truly I was afraid of you thinking about me as brute. So I squatted on the bottom of the wall to have a little rest. Suddenly I saw that, an Armenian child probably in that height at the age of twelve or thirteen went to the mailbox directly and dropped a letter similar to yours in it, closed the cover and went.However had I ask that ungenerous,
He was going after dropping a letter, but he went as if he didn’t understand me. Even that armenian boy hardly had gone away, a russian woman quickly approach to the mailbox drop the letter and went away. At first I thought that, he wants to drop a letter in the mailbox. But, I saw that selfish man had another intention, he stretched his right hand into the mailbox. I immediately notice that the selfish man wanted to steel the letters. Khan, excuse me may be I exhausting you, call the servant to see off me it’s late. I will not be able to reach the village before dusk.
- Hey man, where are you going, go ahead. Tell me what happened next?
- Yes, my dear khan let my poor kids die for your well being! Let me never have a happy day without you!..Yes, I saw how rustle took out the letter from the mailbox shamelessly, bunched them up and took under his arm. Having shut the cover of mailbox he set out. Running quickly and grasped his arm and didn’t let him. The letters have not dropped here for you to take away. Put the letters in their places without any comments. You can only step over my dead body with the letters. You don’t behave well, you shouldn’t put your eye on others goods. Isn’t steeling considered to be a sin in you shariat? Khan, let me go, it’s getting dark.
- Don’t be in a hurry… What did happen later?
- Let me remember where I stop my talk. Hey, servant, don’t let the donkey break the vineyard. Novruzali wanted to run to the donkey but khan stopped him.
- Novruzali, don’t go. Let me know what happened later.
- What should have happened? I insist at least to give khan’s letter. He denied to give it. I notice rustle intended to escape. I swear to God, I was so furious that I banged him down the ground saw that blood went out his mouth. Then the soldier came from the court-room and beating took me to the jail. Let me die at your leg. If it had not been for you they would had sent me to Siberia. Because there were some more prisoners except me, they said me that the russian was a clerk. What else could I do? Khan, my dear, could you tell me please who is guilty?
Khan burst out laughing over and over.
It was already dark. Having put the empty chuvals on the hungry donkey Novruzali set out to his village whipping the donkey with cornel stick.
After three days, khan got a telegraph saying “we have got your letter and your rooms are ready “. Khan and his wife started for Iravan.
A month and half later Novruzali was brought to the court and was sentenced to prison for three months, but Novruzali didn’t plead his guilty. Only after three Valikhan got this news in Iravan. Khan was a bit distressed.

The end