Who is Nizami Ganjavi? A simple embroiderer from Ganja, for that is how his plain name, which stands under the finest poems that Iran has ever heard, is translated. The exuberant and significant Abu Muhammad Ilias ibn Yusuf ibn Zaki Muayyad, he left for the city books and family chronicles to enter the world literature by a modest slave, with the patience of the embroiderer braiding the pattern of exquisite poems.
Who is Afak? An unfortunate slave, a captive Polovchanka, who was sold to Derbent by a girl. The ruler of this glorious city Dara Muzaffarr ad-Din was pleased with the acquisition: Afak grew up in a beautiful and intelligent girl, able to delight the speeches and dancing of the most demanding guests. True, Afak was obstinate and disobedient, which was why she was often exiled to the stables. So when Muzaffarr conceived to reward Nizami, he found nothing more witty than to give him Afak: an insignificant slave to an insignificant verse.
So they met, embroiderer and slave. Often, destiny, conceiving humiliation, gives a person the greatest happiness. So it was here. Nizami and Afak fell in love with each other. The embroiderer did not disgrace the girl – for nothing that is simple, where he is to the rulers and masters of countries and cities! – and married her, making mistress of a good house, the house in which poetry lived.
Four years Afak and Nizami enjoyed each other, and finally Allah gave them a son – it was in his honor to the magnificent generic name of Ilias ibn Yusuf, the proud “Muhammad” was added. Muhammad was handsome and intelligent as a mother, and thoughtful as a father, he was destined to brighten up the years of his great father, when the misfortunes fell one after another on Nizami’s head, low over the verses. The true Afak died on the same day when her husband finished the greatest poem “Khosrov and Shirin”, the second and third wives died one by one, and each one left when Nizami put the last point in the next poem. “God, why should I sacrifice my wife for every poem?” – exclaimed in one of the poems an unfortunate embroiderer, who opens in his own destiny the eternal law of sacrificing happiness in the name of poetry.
A thousand years have passed since that time – and we know almost nothing about Nizami and Afak. Kroki: he is a kind of embroiderer, she is a Polovtsian slave. Someone – the researchers suggest that the son of Muhammad, – entered into the chapter of the ancient manuscript telling about the ancient philosophers, a few words about Nizami.
But poems and poems, over which, without raising their heads, the poet lamented, they are alive. And the lines continue to breathe with love, and tenderness, and sorrow, and sadness, and joy-all those for which the Slave and the Embroiderer lived many, many years ago.