Translation Copyright: Ross Naheedy 1999
Story by Samad Behrangi
The story of Crazyhead Domrul
A short introduction about old stories and myths
People of ancient times, like us, had long aspirations. On the other hand, in their times, science had not advanced, so the reasons behind things weren’t clear to them. As a result, out of the thin air, they carved senseless reasons and myths for things not understood and since they could not get their wishes in real life, they made up stories and got their wishes in these stories.
For instance, the Zoroastrians didn’t know where humans and the world had come from, so they made some stories and believed that two gods made the world. One was Ahreeman – The evil principle in the Zoroastrian religion – who made darkness, badness, sickness, drought, and other bad things. The other was Ormuzd – The good principle in the Zoroastrian religion — who created light, goodness, health, abundance, and other good things. Since the people of those ages did not know the scientific ways of destroying badness, they believed that the good god and the bad god were always fighting and that the people had to help the good god by doing righteous things so that he could overcome the bad god. The people believed that this victory was inevitable.
Of course, it is everyone’s wish that all bad things be destroyed. The Zoroastrians made good rhetoric in their myths about this. However, they couldn’t find a scientific way of achieving the destruction of badness.
Today science has taught humans that Ormuzd and Ahreeman are just myths and only humans themselves can remove the badness through scientific ways so that everyone can prosper.
Different people have different myths. From people of Greece, Africa, and Saudi to Iran, India, and China of all times, they all have made plenty of baseless myths. However, none of these myths has any value in a scientific way. By reading the stories we do, however, realize that people of ancient times were curious just like us and have given their views of the world based on their understanding of it, trying to find reasons for things, badness, and goodness according to their knowledge. For instance, people in those ages used to say that earth is held on a cow’s horn and whenever the cow’s body itches and the cow moves the earth shakes and there is an earthquake. We now know that these beliefs are bogus and earthquakes are caused by other factors which science has made clear to us.
By reading the old stories we also understand that people of ancient times had wishes just like us and they constantly were in quest to make their wishes granted. The old stories show us that humans have always wished to have wings like birds and fly into the sky. Today we have reached this wish by the help of science and humans have even flown to the moon and in the near future will fly to other stars.
Another wish that has occupied us for a long time is the wish for eternal life. This wish has been well documented in mythologies of Azerbaijan, Greece, Iran, Babel, and other people. The invulnerability of Esfandyar – A hero of Shahnameh, an old Persian book – is all about this wish. In a myth from Babel a hero named Gilgamesh takes on a difficult journey so that he can gain eternal life. This wish has been in the heart of Azeri people as well.
“Dada Ghoor Ghoor” is a story from Azerbaijan that has been left for us from many years ago. The stories are about people of those times called ‘Oghuz’. The Oghuz tribe had many heroes and factions. Dada Ghoor Ghoor was the white bearded head of the Oghuz tribe who shared the tribe’s happiness and sadness and chanted the stories of the tribe’s heroes.
Crazyhead Domrul was one of the brave heroes of Oghuz. In this story you’ll read about his adventure on how he wanted to do away with death and Azrael – The angel of death.
This adventure describes well a wish of the people of the ancient times. It has been shown the humans have always feared death and have wanted to escape death since death has always swept them cowardly. We’ll see in this story that if humans love each other and find their own happiness in others’ happiness, they can even overcome Azrael and achieve the masses’ happiness and prosperity.
I have translated this story from the language of the original book, which is Turkish, and dropped some small parts, added some, and simplified it to make it suitable for you, children.
Let me restate that none of the old stories have any scientific value and you shouldn’t assume the beliefs of the people in this story to be real. We can’t make the thoughts, arguments, and actions of the heroes of these stories as sole role model for ourselves. We have to learn thoughts, arguments, and actions from our own age and own surroundings. We have to search for heroes of our times and not limit ourselves to just one time or one place. The twentieth century is our time and the whole world is our place. The time and place of the old stories was narrower and older.
We read these old stories to understand the thought process of the people of ancient times, their wishes, their knowledge of science, and their good and bad, and then compare those with ours and see how we have progressed and what we can achieve, and to imagine how the people of future will advance and what they will achieve…
*** Adventures of Crazyhead Domrul
One day many many years ago there lived among the Oghuz tribe a hero called Crazyhead Domrul. They called him crazy because when he was a kid he had killed nine wild bulls and had done some other amazing things, too. He had made a bridge over a dry river and forced all caravans and people to cross his bridge only. Whoever passed over his bridge he collected thirty Akhchas – Silver coin – and whoever did not comply and wanted to cross the river at a different place received a heavy beating, paid forty Akhchas, and then passed the river.
Don’t you wonder why Domrul did as this?
He reasoning was, “I want to find a powerful hero who would disobey my command and fight me, so that I can beat him to the ground and spread my heroic name in the world.”
Domrul was such brave hero.
One day a clan came by and made camp near Domrul’s bridge. In this clan was a young man who was famous for his heroism and kindness. One day he suddenly fell ill and died. There was much shouting and crying to reach the sky. One kept saying “Oh, my child” and pulled her hair. One kept saying “Oh, my brother” and poured dirt over his head.
Everyone was crying and wailing and talking about that kind hero.
Suddenly Domrul returned from hunting and heard the crying and wailing. He became mad and yelled, “You, immorals! Why are you crying? What is all this wailing and shouting that you are doing near my bridge?”
The head of the clan came forward and said, “Hero, don’t be mad. We had a kind, young man who died today and left us. We cry for him.”
Crazyhead Domrul pulled his sword from its sheath and wailed, “Who killed him? Who dared to kill a man near my bridge?”
The clan head said, “Hero, no one killed him. God ordered Azrael and Azsrael arrived with his red wings and took the young man’s life.”
Crazyhead Domrul yelled angrily, “Who is this Azrael? I don’t know any Azrael. God, I swear you to send Azrael to me and grant me the sight to see him, so that I can fight him and show him how brave I am and take back the life of the brave hero that he took, so that he doesn’t cowardly kill anyone else and take brave heroes lives.” Domrul said these words and went to his home.
God did not like Domrul’s words and told Azrael, “Azrael, did you see how this crazy, immoral has blasphemed? He doesn’t recognize my power and wants to intervene in my work and he keeps boasting of himself.”
Azrael responded, “God, order me to go and take his own life so that his mind returns to his body and he understands what death is.”
God said, “Azrael, descend down now and make yourself appear to his eyes, frighten him, take his life, and bring it to me.”
Azrael responded, “Right away. I will go to him right away and I’ll give him a look that will make him shake like a willow tree and his face to turn like saffron.”
Crazyhead Domrul had been sitting in his house, chatting with his forty handpicked heroes. He was talking about his heroic battles and his hunting of lions and tigers. The gatekeepers had closed the gates and were watching the area. Suddenly Azrael appeared before Domrul’s eyes. None of the gatekeepers had seen him. He was an old man with a bad face and a frightening look that would horrify even the thicket lion. His staring half-blind eyes reached even the heart of his opponent.
Upon seeing the old man, Domrul felt dizzy and his eyes became dark and tarnished. His powerful hands began to shake. Domrul wailed. Now listen to what he had to say. “Frightening old man, who are you who my gatekeepers did not see? You have darkened my eyes and shaken my able hands. Hey, long-bearded old man, tell me who you are who has made my body shiver and made me drop my gold cup to the earth? Hey, half-blind man, say why you are here? Or else I will get up and do unto you such that there will be stories about it until the end of the world.”
Crazyhead Domrul was so agitated that he was chewing his mustache and was clutching his sword. The other heroes were dead quiet and were sure that the old man would not survive this encounter with Domrul.
When Domrul finished his words Azrael laughed loudly and said, “You crazy immoral! You didn’t like my white beard, eh? Know that I have taken the lives of many heroes that had black hair. You didn’t like my half-blind eyes? Know that I have taken the lives of many deer-eyed girls and newly-weds and have forced their mothers and husbands to wear black…”
No one was making any noise. Domrul’s mouth had foamed. He wanted to know the identity of the old man as soon as possible, so that he could get up and cut the old man in two piece with his swords. He wailed, “Hey, old man! Tell me your name so I know who you are, or else I will kill you without knowing your name. My patience is running out.”
“Now you’ll understand who I am. You crazy immoral, do you remember how you were proud of yourself and said that you’d kill the red-winged Azrael if you saw him and free people’s lives?”
“I say it again, that if I get my hands on Azrael, I will pull his wings out and break his head open.”
“You fool, I am now here to take your own life. Will you give it or do I have to fight for it?”
As soon as Crazyhead Domrul heard these words he jumped and wailed, “You? You are the red-winged Azrael?”
“Yes, it is me.”
“But where are your wings, bastard?”
“I have a thousand shapes.”
“You are the one who takes the lives of the heroes and brides so cowardly?”
“Rightly said! And now it is your turn!”
“You foul natured, I was looking for you in the skies, now you have fallen into my arms on earth. Now I will show you how to take someone’s life.”
Domrul said this and told his gatekeepers, “Gatekeepers, sentinels, close the doors, be careful not to let the foul natured old man escape!”
He then pulled his sword and raised it and charged towards Azrael.
Azrael turned into a dove and flew through a hole in the ceiling and disappeared. Domrul crossed his arms, started laughing and said to his heroes, “Did you see how scared of my sword he was and escaped? He was so scared that instead of leaving through the open door he hid like a mouse in a hole. But I am not going to leave him alone. Get up my heroes! We will follow him and I swear that I will not rest until he is the hunt of my eagle.”
Forty one heros got up and took on their horse. Crazyhead Domrul had his hunting eagle on his arm and was trailing Azrael. Wherever he saw a dove he hunted it, but couldn’t find Azrael. On the way back he was alone. He was moving fast through a side road when Azrael appeared about his horse. The horse stampeded, raised Domrul and threw him to the side of the road. Domrul’s black-haired head was twisted. Azrael quickly descended, placed his foot on Domrul’s chest, bent over, and said, “You Crazyhead Domrul, now what do you say? Now that I am taking your life, why aren’t you wailing any more and not boasting about yourself?”
Domrul said in a hoarse voice. “Azrael, I did not know you were this much of a coward. I did not know you took lives like a bandit and stabbed me in the back.”
“Enough said! If you have anything worthy, say it because these are your last breaths.”
The able Domrul, the brave hero, had become hostage of a coward creature who had a thousand shapes and took lives cowardly. The free hero was in a bad shape and his heart was beating and he didn’t want to die. We wanted death to be unbecoming and wanted life, a full and happy life, for everyone, and he wanted to make that happiness for everyone, like he had brought happiness to his own tribe.
He finally said, “Azrael, give me a second. Listen to what I have to say. In our beautiful land there are great, big mountains with snowy tops, so high that even the arrow of a hero like me cannot reach them. On their slopes we have a great, many Orchards full of trees, specially grape trees. These trees bear black grapes, so sweet, soft, and clean. We squeeze the grapes and fill barrels with their juice and the wait until the juice turns into wine. We then drink the wine and become drunk and unaware of ourselves and wail so loudly that the thicket lion shivers and his hair stands straight. I also drank this wine and became unaware of myself and I do not know what I said that God did not like. It is not heroism that has wearied me and I have not had enough of life. I hate death and do not want to die. I was to keep on living, be brave, and do kind things. I seek your help, Azrael. Do not take my life. Leave me as I am and go take the lives of those who have done bad or are doing bad and search for their fortune in other people’s helplessness and gather their break by keeping others hungry. Go!”
Azrael said, “Immoral, you are saying unworthy words. Even your plead smells of immorality. And do not plead to me. I, too, am an unable creature and cannot do a thing to help you. I just obey God’s orders.”
“So it is God who takes our lives?”
“That is right. It is not my decision.”
“Then who the hell are you to mix yourself in my situation. Clear my sight so I can do my own work.”
Azrael got up from Domrul’s chest, but kept pushing his foot on Domrul’s chest, forcing Domrul to take short breaths. Azrael’s foot felt every beat of Domrul’s heart and warmth was flowing from Domrul’s chest to Azrael’s foot.
Crazyhead Domrul stretched his broken leg and cleared the blood from his forehead. “Oh God, I do not know who you are, what you are, or where you are. The fools search for you in the skies, on this earth, but they do not know that you have a place in humans’ hearts. Even if you take my life, take it yourself. Do not leave it to this coward Azrael.”
Azrael said, “You poor fool. Your pray and cry smells of immorality. There is no way out.”
God liked Domrul’s words and told Azrael, “Azrael, it is not your place to take Domrul’s life. Tell Domrul to find another life to give me in place of you taking his life.”
Azrael said, “Oh God, it is not to let this audacious human live.”
God said, “Azrael, do not intervene in my decisions.”
Azrael lifted his foot from Domrul’s chest and said, “Get up. If you can find another life to replace yours I’ll leave you be.”
Domrul the hero moved and got up on his broken leg. “Did you see, Azrael, how I escaped your hands? Let us go to my old father. He loves me and will not refuse me his life.
Crazyhead Domrul started walking with Azrael behind him. They came to Domrul’s old father. His name was Dookha Ghooja. When he saw Domrul all bloodied he cried and wailed. “Child, what kind of a shape is this? Where is your horse, who is this who stares at me?”
Domrul bent down and kissed his old father’s hand. “Father, see what has happened to me. I said immoral words and holy God did not like it. He ordered Azrael to descend from the tall skies and take my life. Azrael pressed his foot against my chest, took my breath, and wanted to take my life. Now, father, do you give your life to Azrael so he would leave me alone or do you want to wear black in mourning of my death and cry ‘Oh, My Child!’? Which do you want? Tell me soon because we don’t have much time.”
Dookha Ghooja became quiet and settled into thinking. Forty heroes had returned from the hunt and had seen Domrul’s horse arriving without Domrul. They were all worried about Domrul and now they were seeing him, broken and bloodied, in front of his father.
Domrul’s father finally spoke. “Domrul, my dear child, my son, the hero who killed nine wild bulls in your childhood, you are like the columns of my house and life. You are the new blossom of my daughters and my beautiful dolls! I will not let you die. Those black mountains standing in front of us are mine. If Azrael wants, then tell him they are his. I have cold springs, able horses, caravans of camels, barns full of sheep and goat, if Azrael wants it all, let it all be his. Whatever gold and silver he needs, I will give him. But, child, life is sweet and health is dear. I cannot pass up my life.”
“Father, keep your belongings for yourself, I just want your life. Do you give it or not?”
Dookha Ghooja said, “Child, you have your mother who is more dear to you and more kind hearted than I. Go to her.”
Azrael had started to take Domrul’s life when Domrul said, “Wait coward! Let up go to my mother.”
They went to Domrul’s mother. Domrul kissed his mother’s hand and said, “Mother, why do you not ask that I am all broken? Why am I wounded and what has happened to me?”
Domrul’s mother cried and said, “Oh my child, what has happened to you?”
“Mother, the red-winged Azrael descended from the tall skies and landed on my chest and took my breath to take my life. I asked my father for his life so that Azrael would overlook my own, but my father didn’t give his. Now I am asking you, mother. Will you grant me your life, or will you mourn my death by wearing black and crying ‘Oh, my child?’ Mother, what do you say?”
Domrul’s mother thought for a while and then raised her head and said, “Child! Oh child who are my eyes’ light, who lived in my womb for nine months, who drank my white milk, I wish you were stranded in large castles and tall towers, so I could come and drop gold and silver and help you. But what can I do since you are in a bad situation and I cannot help you? Child, life is sweet and health is dear. I cannot pass up my life. I cannot give my life to you.”
Domrul’s mother also denied him of her life. Domrul became distressed. Azrael came forward to take his life. Domrul became agitated and wailed, “Wait, coward! Give me one second, uncompassionate.”
Azrael laughingly said, “Hero, now what do you want? Did you see no one spared you and that they did not spare you their lives? The sooner you give me your life the better it will be for yourself.”
“Do you want me to have regrets?”
“Regret for what?”
“I have a wife and two boys. They are in my trust. Let us go and I will trust them to my wife. Then you can do with me what you wish.”
Domrul started walking and went to his wife. Domrul’s wife had both boys on her knees and was giving them milk while caressing them. The boys were punching her full breasts and were breathlessly drinking milk, their eyes smiling.
Domrul entered, saw his wife, looked at his boys, and his heart became full of happiness and regret. Soon as his wife saw him, she put the kids on the ground and wailed and hung herself from Domrul’s chest and said, “Oh, Domrul. Oh my hero, my backbone, what kind of a shape is this? You never knew how to be gloomy, you have never known defeat. How come your are in this shape? Watch your boys.”
Domrul looked at his boys. They were rolling on a deer skin flattened on the ground, grabbing each other with their hands and teeth, pulling on each other, making noises, their eyes shining with happiness. Domrul looked for a while and then told his wife, “Oh, wife. My sweet wife! Know that today the red-winged Azrael descended from the tall skies and cowardly sat on my chest and wanted to take my sweet life. I went to my old father, but he did not give me his life. I went to my old mother, but she did not give me her life. They said life is sweet and health is dear, we cannot spare you these. Now, my wife, my children’s mother, I have come to trust my kids to you. My black mountains are you summer home. Enjoy my cold springs. My able horses are all yours. May my houses all shadow over you. My caravans shall all be yours. So shall my sheep and goats in my barns. Oh wife! My children’s mother! After me marry any man that your eyes like and your heart desires, but do not break my children’s hearts. I trust them to you and I go.”
Azrael came forward, Domrul stood still. Suddenly Domrul’s wife jumped between Azrael and her husband and wailed, “Oh Azrael, Halt! I am still here and I will not let my husband, my backbone, my hero, die and not see his boys grow and miss their heroism.”
Then she turned to her husband and said, “Oh Domrul, oh husband, my boys’ father, the hero, what word is this you have said? You are all I have know since I have opened my eyes. I have given you my heart and loved you, have become your wife with a full heart, have been content with you, have prospered with you. What will I do with your mountains? If I step in them they shall be my grave. What will I do with your cold springs? Shall my blood boil if I drink a drop from them. What can I do with your gold and silver? They are only good for buying your coffin. What shall I do with your horses? I should be put in a coffin if I mount them. What do I want with another husband after you? I wish a snake to bite me if I marry again. Oh man, my boys’ father, what worth is life that your old father and old mother did not spare you? Let the skies be witness, earth witness, God witness, your heroes and the men and women of our tribe witness, that I with my own wanting have given you my dear life!”
The wife kissed her husband, kissed her boys, and came before Azrael and stood quietly and still. Azrael moved to take her life. This time Domrul moved and wailed horribly, “Oh cowardly Azrael! Why are you in such a hurry to make us wear black? Hold! I still have words to say.”
Azrael saw Domrul’s wrath and didn’t dare touch his wife, thus took a step back and stood still.
Domrul, the great hero with the great heart, did not have the heart to watch his wife die. He opened his mouth and said loudly, “Dear God, I don’t know who you are, what you are, or where you are. Fools look for you in the skies, on earth, but don’t know that you are in our own hearts. Dear God, I will build public palaces on roads, I will feed the hungry, clothe the bare, and bring happiness for everyone. I love my wife, so if you want, take our lives both, and if you want, let both our lives free.”
God liked Domrul’s words and ordered, “Azrael, Domrul and his wife will live another one hundred and forty years. Go take Domrul’s father’s and mother’s lives and return to me.”
Azrael ascended, went and took Domrul’s father’s and mother’s lives and returned to God.
Domrul hugged his wife and children and kissed them all over. Everyone was happy and sang songs of heroism and wailed happiness anthems, men and women danced and rode horses. At this time Dada Ghoor Ghoor, the white bearded head of the Oghuz tribe, came forward and joined in their happiness and made the events into a story and made a poem of it so that heroes could recite it, know it, and learn from it.