The Death of Kikos by Hovhannes Tumanian
The Death of Kikos
ONCE UPON A TIME there lived a poor peasant and his wife, with three daughters.
One day, as the father was working in his field, he felt very thirsty, and sent his eldest daughter to the spring for water. She took a jug and went. Next to the spring grew a large tree.
When she came to the spring, the daughter looked at the tree pensively, and thought:
“One day I’ll get married, and have a son whom I’ll call Kikos. Kikos will grow up, and one day he’ll climb this tree. He’ll fall from it, and hit his head on a stone, and be killed… . Oh, alas, alas, poor little Kikos!”
She sat down beneath the tree and began to wail, chanting:
She sat there chanting and weeping, and meanwhile everyone at home was wondering why she had not returned. Her mother sent the second daughter to look for her. “Find out what’s happened to your sister,’’ she said.
When the eldest daughter saw her sister approaching, she began to wail louder.
“Come, quick, you poor unfortunate aunt! See what has happened to your poor little nephew Kikos!
‘‘Why haven’t you heard? Listen.~~
“Alas, dear Kikos is dead!” the second daughter began to wail. She sat down next to her sister, and began to weep.
Meanwhile the mother became still more anxious. She sent out her third daughter. “You’d better go and see what has happened to your sisters,’7 she said.
The youngest daughter went to the spring, and found her sisters sitting there weeping bitterly.
“What has happened?” she cried anxiously.
“Don’t you know?” answered her eldest sister.
“Alas, dear Kikos! Why have you left your poor old aunt behind?” wailed the youngest sister, and sat down with the other two. And she too began to weep.
Finally the mother couldn’t bear the suspense any longer, and ran out to the spring herself. All three daughters ran to meet her.
“Come, quick, you poor unfortunate grandmother! Sce what has happened to your dear little grandson!”
“What grandson? And since when am I a grandmother?” cried the amazed woman.
“Why, don’t you know yet, Mother?” wailed the eldest daughter.
“Alas, alas! Why am I still living, dear Kikos? It were better that your poor old grandmother should be dead herself, than to have this happen to you!” wailed the woman.
The peasant couldn’t understand where they had all gone. He began to look for them, and finally found them at the spring.
As soon as they saw him coming, they all ran to meet him, crying.
“Come, quick, you unfortunate grandfather! See what has happened to your favourite grandson Kikos!”
“Who’s a grandfather? Who’s Kikos?” asked the astounded man. “What’s this all about, anyway? I don’t understand. .
“What! You don’t understand? Haven’t you heard?”
All four of them wailed in chorus, “Alas, dear Kikos is dead!”
The peasant thought a bit.
“Look here, you foolish women, ‘ he said. “Why are you crying? You know you can’t bring poor little Kikos back to life with your tears. Let us go home instead, and invite the neighbours to a feast in Kikos’s memory. Such is life, we come and we depart it.”
All they possessed was an ox and a bag of flour. They killed the ox, and baked bread, and invited the guests. Then they ordered a mass for Kikos’s soul, and held a feast in his memory.
That calmed them all, and they went on living as peacefully as before.