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~ Abai Kunanbaev ~


Word Thirty

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What we call "boastful windbags" are found amongst our people, even if you put forty of them to the test, you won't find one who can be of help. What are they good for? They lack good sense and self-esteem, they are narrow-minded and shallow, without valor, humanity or conscience.

Some fellow will fling over his shoulder: "Don't bother me! Am I not better than others? Is my head strung to another man's saddle? Does he put meat into my pot or give me livestock for milk?"

Or he may speak out sharply with reckless resolve, "Why should I spare myself life? Is my life really worth much? I'm ready to brave bullets or exile for a noble cause! We die but one death!"

Have you ever encountered a Kazakh whose deeds are in keeping with such words? For myself, I have never seen anyone who was resigned to death, but no one will admit their fear of it. At times, true, any of them will make as if slitting his throat with the palm of his hand in a gesture of sacrificial readiness: "Let me be slain on this very spot!" Had these words been sincere, their speaker could have felled us if not by his intelligence, then by his incredible courage. Yet what shall we call one whose threats are directed only at cowards all set to creep into the nearest hole if trouble is brewing? This is nothing more than bogus bravery to scare the faint-hearted into admitting: "His wrath is terrible indeed!"

My God! If he were good at heart, generous and unselfish, if he were brave and true to his word, could his good points be not seen in his face?

This fellow is one of those dishonorable types of whom it is said: "A brazen face has tireless jaws."

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