Tears of Lovers
Not far from the city of Lerik in the south of Azerbaijan, among the dense forests of the Talysh Mountains, the stormy river Talysh-chay roars, meandering. It flows from the highest mountain peaks, gaining speed and power with every kilometer before falling into the Caspian Sea. The steepest rapids of the Talysh-chay river are located in the Lerik region. Here, near the village of Gunashli, the river flow breaks down twice from an impressive height, turning into majestic waterfalls called “Tears of Lovers” (“Young Man” and “Girl”).
Azerbaijanis love to love. This is our national trait. A lot of things in our culture are connected with this most beautiful of human feelings: many love songs are written in the Azerbaijani language. From time immemorial, poets and musicians, artists and scientists have been inspired by this sharp heartfelt joy, which can both give life and take it away. The great representatives of Azerbaijani philosophical thought, such as Nizami or Khagani, chose love lyrics as the best of the poetic models for describing the laws of dialectics. There are three translations of the word “Love” in our language, and each of them explains a special independent essence.
Of course, the people who are so responsive to sensual relationships between the sexes could not help but compose fairy tales and legends about this. Leyli and Majnun, the characters of an ancient Arabian fairy tale, were independently paraphrased by the great Nizami and Fizuli. Poets wrote about the love of the legendary Farhad and Shirin, and the composer Arif Melikov became the author of the ballet of the same name. The legend of love is one of the main variations of the origin of the name of the Maiden’s Tower – the symbol of the city of Baku. Each city has its own story about the most beautiful driving force of mankind, and the southern regions of the country are no exception. A beautiful local legend about love is connected with the waterfalls of Lerik “Tears of Lovers”.
A long time ago, maybe a thousand years ago, maybe more, a tribe of Persian-speaking Talysh lived in the mountains. The tribe was peaceful – they hunted, gathered fruits in the forests, fished in the rivers. The people were hardworking, beautiful and friendly.
And then one day trouble came to their land. The warlike tribes of the Khazars came from the north and a war broke out between them and the Talysh, who were not going to give their homeland to the enemy to be torn to pieces. There were few locals, there were many enemies, but the unfamiliar and inconvenient terrain for the invaders, the valor of the defenders and selfless leaders strengthened the feet of the Talysh and they did not give up. Many bloody battles thundered in those battles, many people died on both sides. This war lasted for a long time – and the invader could not move further into the mountains, and the defenders could not drive the Khazars away. Many of the Khazars, those who were more inclined towards the peaceful life of a worker, began to advocate for an end to the battles themselves and persuaded the others.
The elders of the Khazars met with the elders of the Talysh and made peace, as a result of which the aggression was stopped, the most warlike of the Khazars went to continue military campaigns, and the peaceful ones, who liked the local spring water and the magical mountain air, remained. They founded a settlement on one of the bends of Talysh-chai and called it Gunashli (Sunny). They maintained peace with the locals, did not quarrel, but there was no particular friendliness between them. They simply coexisted as two parallel universes for several generations in a row. And one day everything changed.
The Legend of “Tears of Lovers” says once the youngest son of a Talysh elder met a girl on the river bank. She sang an old song, her gentle voice was echoed by the rustle of the forest, the chirping of birds and the waves of the river sang along with her. He listened, looked at the green-eyed golden-haired beauty and fell in love, as soon as the girl looked at him once. And the young man lost his sleep. The Khazar beauty also fell in love with him, and she thought about that chance meeting from morning to morning.
At the request of his son to send matchmakers to the Khazar village, the elder responded with indignation. It’s incomprehensible to the mind – to intermarry with those who killed them not so long ago! And in response to the girl’s story about a beautiful stranger whom she met near the Talysh village, the Khazars began to shame her. On both sides, the lovers faced impassable obstacles on the way to their love. The kind and obedient children of their parents, both he and she, did not dare to even think about disobedience and spent the days of their separation in sorrow and tears.
They sat on the banks of the river: she is closer to the valley, he is closer to the peaks, and there was only a few minutes between them. But this distance was strengthened by age-old unfriendliness, and therefore insurmountable. They each sat on their own shore, shed tears for each other, and there was no consolation in the beautiful nature around them. The water became salty from tears, and nature burst into tears along with them. As if answering the loud sobs of the lovers, she split the river in two places – next to him and next to her, and where they sat in tears by the water, two waterfalls arose, the waters of which swallowed up the lovers to unite them forever.
The death of the lovers was the cause of the final peace between the two tribes, and since then there has been no more enmity between them. And the place of separation of a young man and a girl began to be called the waterfalls “Tears of Lovers”: the one that is higher – “Young Men”, and that lower – “Girls”. There are simply no more picturesque waterfalls in these places.