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~ Abai Kunanbaev ~


Word Twenty-Six

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The Kazakh is elated if his horse wins a race, if a wrestler on whom he has wagered wins a bout, or if his hound or falcon does well in the chase. I wonder if there is anything in life that gives him greater joy? I doubt it! But what great pleasure is there in seeing one creature excel another in agility and speed, or one wrestler flinging another to the ground? It is not the man himself, nor even his son for that matter, who has been successful! By going into raptures for the most trifling cause, he wants to annoy his neighbor and make him envious. Truly, the Kazakh has no worse enemy than another Kazakh!

It is common knowledge that to provoke envy on purpose is contrary to the Shariah laws, one's own interests and sound reason. What comfort has the Kazakh from stirring up other people's animosity? Why does he enjoy it? And why are people so vexed at the success of the more fortunate, considering themselves humiliated?

Fast racehorses are found now in this village, now in that; a good falcon or hunting dog comes into the hands of now one man, now another. And the strongest men don't all hail from the same aul either. All these qualities are not man's handiwork. Those who have once come first and once triumphed, will not remain the fastest and strongest forever. Why then, knowing that, are people as vexed as if some dark scheme or vile deed of theirs had come to light?

Why do they suffer as though they had been brought low?

The reason is not hard to find: ignorant people will rejoice over any trivial, foolish thing. Out of their minds and intoxicated with delight, they don't what they are saying or doing. They feel ashamed of what is not in the least shameful, but behave in the most scandalous fashion without blushing.

These are the marks of ignorance and recklessness. If you say that to a Kazakh, he will listen and assent: "Yes, that's true!" But you should not be taken in by his words— he is just like the majority. Though he sees and understands all that, he is like a stubborn creature who cannot give up his wicked ways. And no one will be able to dissuade and check him, or bring him to his senses. Having made misdeeds his law, he will never renounce them. Only great fear or death can wean him from his bad habits.

You will not encounter a man here who, admitting his errors, will try to curb himself.

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