Elya Yelnats lived in a small village in Latvia, when he was 15 years old when he fell in love with Myra Menke. Elya travelled to Myra's home to ask her father for her hand in marriage, but Igor Barkov also wanted to marry Myra.
Myra's dad asked what Igor would offer for the right to marry his daughter, Igor offered his fattest pig to marry Myra, Elya offered a heart full of love. Myra's dad liked the idea of a fat pig better than a "heart full of love."
Elya didn't know what to do so he ran to his friend Madame Zeroni an old Egyptian woman who lived on the edge of the small town. Madame Zeroni didn't have a left foot, her left leg ended at the at the ankle.
Madame Zeroni advised Elya not to marry Myra and move to america, where he would find her son. Elya looked furlong so Madame Zeroni told him if he wanted to marry Myra he would have to carry a piglet up the mountain every day and sing to it as it drinks from the stream, then he would carry Madame Zeroni up the mountain and sing to her as she drank.
Elya carried the piglet up the mountain every day until Myra's 15th birthday when she would get married. Elya didn't carry the pig up the mountain the day he would marry Myra. His pig weighed the same as Igor's pig so Myra got to decide who she married, it took Myra so long to decide that Elya left and didn't carry Madame Zeroni up the mountain.
Elya became a deck hand on a ship heading to America. After he arrived he learnt to speak English and fell in love with a woman named Sarah Miller. Elya and Sarah would stay up late laughing. Elya looked for Madme Zeroni's son but didn't find. Elya remembered the curse Madame Zeroni said he would have if he didn't finish carrying the pig and Madame Zeroni that he and his descendants would have bad luck.