-"Sona, my Sona, wake up, you will be late for classes!
Sona did not respond, so her father came up to her, sat down on the sofa bed and stroking the silky, gold yellow hair of his daughter, started to wake her up.
Sona yawned gently, even stronger pressed to herself a toy hare and started to ask her father with a sleepy voice:
-"Let me be your sacrifice, father, let me sleep at least five more minutes."
She knew her father pretty well and was sure that he would get up and go to the next room and she could sleep at least ten more minutes.
And it happened exactly this way. "Oh you shaitan1", the father said and went away to the living room.
Everyone in the village knew about Akhad's temper and never argued with him. He was a very clever, diligent and masterful person. In the whole world, his beloved daughter was the only one before whom he was helpless, and fulfilled all her wishes and caprices.
Having worked as chairman of village council for many years, Akhad did not sit idle after its abolition. He founded a private stock farm and worked there. The villagers respected him for his hospitality and also because he always gave people an opportunity to earn their living.
That severe man had only one weak point – it was his only daughter. She was a late child. Akhad and his wife had been expecting a baby for ten years and her birth was a miracle. Sona's mother, Shargiya, was, of course, full of love and joy, but it could not compare with the unique boundless and immeasurable love of the father. Akhad could not live a single day without his daughter and almost went mad when she was absent.
When Sona finished the 7th grade, she was sent to her grandmother to the yaylag2 to rest there for ten days. Akhad himself permitted her to go, but less than three days had passed when his heart could not take it any longer. He was worried sick as if Sona had gone far away and for a long time, and he could not work, eat or sleep.
So, he told driver Mustafa, who went to yaylag, to take back Sona with him. Although he did not admit it, everyone knew that without Sona, he was like a cat on hot bricks and the world was not nice without her.
Akhad's wife and Sona's mother, Shargiya, was a teacher at the village school and brought up Sona to become like herself – diligent, clever, decent, and respectful for the old. She did her best for her daughter to be well-rounded.
Both the mother and the father wanted their daughter to become a well-educated journalist with the knowledge of several foreign languages. Of course, not among the Armenians, but among her fellow countrymen in Baku. They chose that profession together with their daughter given her love for her native tongue, talent and capabilities. Sona, for her part, did as well as she could, first of all, not to disappoint her parents and, second, to enter the desired institute in Baku.
Akhad strictly ordered his wife Shargiya not to give hard household work to their daughter: "let her prepare for the exams."
But Shargiya herself did not give such work to her daughter, she was very fragile and although she was leaving school soon, she looked like a seventh grader. Meanwhile, she was very beautiful and gentle and many boys at school were secretly in love with her, but did not dare even to approach her for fear of Gafar. Gafar cherished love for Sona for five years and was waiting until she finished school to send a matchmaker to her house. Sona paid no attention to her admirers. The only thing she thought of was her studies and the only sacred love she had in her heart was the love for her parents.
All the residents of the village were alarmed in the past year. With no Armenians residing in the village, they heard about the emerging hostile sentiments of the Armenians living in the neighboring villages and Yerevan. Although they lived in some tension, no one wished to go away and leave to the Armenians what was acquired by backbreaking labor, their houses, property, cultivated and sown fields and their native lands.
Bad news came recently. Bearded Armenians attacked Azerbaijani villages near Yerevan and demanded that their residents immediately leave the lands of their ancestors. The leaders of Armenian government, however, refuted those rumors in television appearances and calmed the Azerbaijanis by misleading the people.
Those who knew the bad nature of the Armenians moved gradually, while the rest who thought that the Armenians were ordinary people created by Allah went on living their usual life. No one could even think that the Armenians living in the neighboring village of Vahan, who used to break bread with the Azerbaijanis, would attack the Azerbaijani village of Khanali and plunder it, exterminate the residents mercilessly and would not even allow to bury the dead.
The winter was very frosty in Khanali, surrounded by mountains from all sides. The frost was getting harder in the last days of December. On one of such days, Sona was unwilling to go out and wrapping herself up in the blanket, wished to sleep a little more.
Akhad again came up to his daughter and forcibly put her on her feet.
- Your classes are starting soon, hurry up, daughter
Sona got up and, sleepy, went to her mother's room, but her mother was not there; she remembered that in the evening, her mother was preparing to go to school earlier in the morning. Still sluggishly, the girl went to wash her face and comb her hair.
Akhad was also going to leave. Sona came up to him, kissed him in the cheek, said "good morning" and sat down to breakfast. Her mother had laid the table for breakfast. Akhad put on his expensive black leather coat and was about to leave when his daughter ran up to him again and hugged and kissed him. Akhad went out to the courtyard and Sona had not yet finished her sweet tea when she heard sudden noise, cries and weeping. The sound of gunfire and cries of people filled everything around. The girl jumped to her feet, Akhad rushed to the street to find out what was going on.
Less than a minute had passed when Akhad came back to the courtyard, followed by three Armenian soldiers3 armed with submachine guns. One of them, a tall, stumpy big guy, hit Akhad in the head with the butt so strongly that his face became stained with blood. Akhad tried to resist, but another Armenian with a black beard hit him in the back of his head with his fist, Akhad began to swing, but remained on his feet. He felt terrible pain, but he made no sound so that Sona would not see his condition. He looked up and saw Sona's eyes through the window, nonplussed with horror. It did not go unnoticed. The third Armenian came up to the big guy and whispered something in his ear.
Then the Armenians, with their eyes looking like bottomless vessels filled with blood, beating Akhad, led him to one of the rooms on the first floor of the house serving as a barn and tied him to an iron bed.
The stumpy Armenian went up the stairs to the house to find the "girl looking through the window." He inspected all four rooms, but found no one. Then he noticed a ladder leading to the attic and, groaning and waddling, started to go up there. But the rungs broke beneath his weight and the Armenian crashed down on the floor. The second, black-bearded Armenian went up at the sound and seeing his friend, as foul as himself, in that condition, burst out laughing loudly and heartily.
The big guy ordered him to go up to the attic and bring the girl, adding in Armenian that he must not touch her, "she is mine".
Seeing – through the window – what happened, Sona was horrified and, in horror, could not come to the aid of her father. She ran up to the attic to hide from the enraged Armenians.
She was begging Allah that it came to an end, when the attic door opened with a creak and the bearded Armenian, who had hit her father with his fist, beckoned her with his finger and said in Azerbaijani:
-If you do not come down on your own, we will kill your father and leave.
The girl sat trembling, unable to move. She loved her father with a universal love, so she rose to her feet and walked with her legs trembling. She thought that the Armenians either wish to force them from the village or they have come for a gun. Akhad had a double-barreled gun. The Armenians had come for many times from the military headquarters to seize the gun, but Akhad had hidden it and did not give it to them, on various pretexts. The girl went down to her father with these thoughts in mind. She almost fainted seeing her father covered with blood and tied to the bed. She cried out, threw herself on her father and embraced him. Her face was covered with her father's blood.
At that time, the big guy approached her from behind, forcibly tore her away from her father, tore her dress and underwear. The girl bent and picked up the floor cloth to cover her naked body. At that moment she was slapped in the face strongly by the big guy. A fragile girl, Sona could not stand the blow and fell down. The mop of the girl's gold yellow hair covered the floor. All three Armenians were standing aside watching the girl's beauty and her young body.
Akhad closed his eyes not to see his daughter in that condition. With his eyes shut, he moaned and, in Armenian, begged them not to touch his daughter. The Armenians enjoyed it and went on with their atrocities.
Akhad, who had not bowed down before the Armenians, as if broke in a moment. There was a feeling that Akhad's back broke in the blink of an eye. He was weeping loudly and tears in big drops were running from his eyes.
The big guy sent the young Armenian to guard the gate and sticking to Sona's virgin body, started to kiss her brutally. Every time Akhad closed his eyes, the bearded Armenian squeezed his fingers with nippers he had taken from the shelf so that his eyes popped out of his head and he had to watch his daughter being tortured.
He saw the "murdar Ermeni"4 kissing her breast, covering her with his nasty saliva. The unhappy father saw the Armenian defiling his beloved mole on Sona's cheek, the mole he loved to kiss. He saw the Armenian defile the virginity of his beloved daughter. No, he did not die, his heart did not break to pieces, he saw everything, everything.
Akhad was an orphan, and went through any kind of hardship, experienced many hard and sorrowful moments, but he did not remember himself crying. But now he was weeping loudly, he was howling.
"Jan," dear" …"jan, my Sona," repeated he. "May you go blind, Shargiya, where are you, come and see what is happening to our little flower," Akhad said, weeping.
The unhappy mother was hiding in a closet in a vacant classroom at school.
At last, Sona herself put an end to that terrible moments when she lost consciousness.
The Armenian threw her down with the fury of a wild animal. They untied Akhad's hands, beat him again within an inch of life and went away satisfied.
Exhausted and stricken with grief, Akhad rose to his feet with difficulty, took in his arms the body of his daughter, stained with blood, went up to the second floor and put her to bed. He took a towel, moistened it and cleaned the blood from her body with shaky hands. Sona started to regain consciousness soon and her father gave her to drink the unfinished cup of the sweet tea which had become like poison.
Regaining consciousness, Sona hid her head under a blanket so that she could not see her father. She wished the ground would swallow her up, she wanted to cry, but she was not able to cry, the unbearable shame kept the tears from coming. She thought about her father, she wished to take her own life, but she suppressed that thought. She knew that her father could not live without her, he would die. So, she pulled herself together and went to the bath in the courtyard to clean her defiled and profaned body. The bath was not heated and the shower water was icy, but Sona did not notice it, she did not feel the cold and stayed in the icy shower more than half an hour.
Suddenly, she heard the noise of the opening bathroom door and turning, she saw her father with his face surprisingly darkened. His face expressed nothing else but hatred. Sona understood that his father wanted to "bury5" that disgrace. He was holding the double-barreled gun in his hand. Its muzzle was aimed at Sona. Akhad's hands were shivering and he was hesitating to pull the trigger.
What Sona could say was:
- I do not want to die, father. You cannot live if I die. That is why I do not want to die.
Akhad said with a trembling voice:
- Forgive me, my Sona! Forgive me!
The roar of the lightning exceeded the loud sound of the gun.
* * *
Ten years passed. It was a hot summer day. It was midnight. The sea rose in waves sluggishly. In Khazri sanatorium, where refugees found shelter, everyone was asleep except Akhad. He was slowly walking along the seashore, barefooted, and the waves were washing his feet.
Despite the summer heat, he was wearing a black leather coat. Once expensive and beautiful, it was now torn and shabby. However hard Shargiya tried to persuade him to take off the coat, Akhad refused to do so. "It has Sona's smell," he said.
The last time Sona embraced her father he was wearing that coat.
In the middle of the night, Shargiya, who looked like an old woman, with her hair white as snow, was searching for and calling her husband, who was speaking to himself.
- Akhad, oh Akhad! Wretched, the son of a wretched person, if only you slept at least five minutes. What are you talking about with the sea all the time?
Akhad got angry.
-Don't you know that I am talking not to the sea, but to Sona? Why are you calling me? Why no one wants to understand me? Remember once and for all: I am talking to my daughter. I am not mad to talk to myself. I am talking to her. I will die if I stop.
Akhad's voice came from a distance:
- Forgive me, my Sona! Forgive me!
Fishers who went into the sea in the early morning noticed the black silhouette of a man on the shore, but no one was surprised as everyone knew that it was the half-witted Akhad, who lost his mind after killing his daughter…