The Picture of Dawn
Writer: Mekhri Abdurakhmonova
Translator: Khafiza Mukhtorova
Suddenly, in a moment, an inexplicable sadness appeared in my psyche. I still feel a pang in my chest when I remember watching a herdsman driving his donkey towards his herd with his ragged hat put on to his ears.
He took the pain of all his unhappiness from Amirqul? If so, why is his body suddenly bent down?
After I regained consciousness, I gathered the cattle that were grazing and drove to the village. On the way, Amir’s mother, holding a stick in her hand, hurriedly went to the field, where the cattle were being fed.
Amirkul did not go to school that day.
The next day, not Amirqul, but his brother Primqul drove their cattle. He returned to the village, adding his cattle to the peers.
I was returning home from school in the evening. I was startled by the exclamation “Absamat”. At the edge of the school garden, Amirqul was smiling among the trees.
– Come here. “Why are you hiding, my friend?” I answered him.
– Hey… If the teachers see you, they will fight you asking why you don’t come to school. Come, let’s eat raw apricots. That time the guard of school went somewhere. We can eat enough of the row apricots until he arrives.
– If my father hears, he will fight me. Soon it will be late. I must go to my sheep. If the lambs go astray, I have to find them.
“Ok, let’s go,” Amirqul said and came to me.
– Absamat, Murad herdsman lied tom me. My mother is not a stepmother in fact. She is my biological mother. I went home crying and told my mother about Murad bald, and my mother came with a stick and beat him. My father was also very angry. He said that he will expel the silly out of the village. For now, he must be here until another herdsman is found.
Amirkul was happy. He and his mother went to uncle Husanboy’s house yesterday. He saw his uncle’s newly married bride.
– The bride is very beautiful. My mother said. I saw it myself. My mother felt of pity that God had given her so much beauty and figure, but she had not given a tongue to talk, and if she had a tongue, she would not have married an old man whose wife had died. Her tongue is dumb.
We talked together all the way back home. As he filled his pocket with row apricot, we enjoyed eating it.
At the end of May, a new herdsman came to the village. We added our cattle to his herd. In the meantime, sheep shearing has also begun, and the season of weaning lambs three months and older from their mothers has begun. The pasture was filled with the voice of children who were tending their lambs on vacation. We were among them.
One of those days, a beautiful unknown girl drove ten-to-fifteen lambs past us. After returning her lambs to us, Karim, who was lying on the grass a short distance away, saw the young girl and jumped up.
– Wow, has the moon fallen from the sky? Hey girl, let’s talk together.
– Karim, she is not a girl, she is Husanboy’s wife, – said Amirqul hastily.
“Really? Such beautiful girl made a wrong decision,” said Karim, who still couldn’t take his eyes off the girl.
A girl with a rainbow-colored dress fluttering in the steppe wind and a red turban on her head drove her lambs away from us, not paying attention to what was happening.
Husanboy, who recently got married, had a house on the other side of the village, or because he got married on a small scale without a wedding ceremony, so many people had not seen his wife. It is true that it did not surprise anyone that Husanboy, an orphan whose parents died and was raised by daughters in law, married to dumb girl, as he was left a widower with three children after the death of his wife. But seeing the joy of the bride, who drove her lambs for the first time, everyone was surprised.
– Absamat, I told you that she is a beautiful bride. Did you see it? Amirqul smiled with satisfaction and added in a slow whisper. – When I grow up, I will marry to this bride. Don’t tell anyone else.
– Hey, Amir, you are stupid. She is much older than you. She has also husband, I say, looking at him in surprise.
– Her husband will die until I grow up. Then I will tell my mother to marry to this bride.
– Your mother will expel you away by beating with a stick.
Saying this to him, I look with a desire at the bride, whose embroidered decoration of her dress is shining in the sunlight every time she walks. The bride was busy with her lambs, leaving a careless look in our direction from time to time.
– Sister, add your lambs to mine, I will feed them myself, – said Karim loudly to her. But the bride did not look at him.
– Oh-oh, it would be fine if bride keeps joking with her brothers-in-law. But you even didn’t answer… Or Husanboy, told you not to talk to anyone? If you don’t know, let me tell you, it is said that sister-in-law is halal partially. Now you must bear with our jokes.
She didn’t answer him again. It seems that only me and Amirqul know the reason for this.
“Is she deaf? She didn’t even look at me even though I talked so much,” grumbled Karim, combing his hair upwards by his hand.
– She does not hear, – said Amirqul hurriedly to Karim.
– Why doesn’t she hear? Does she have a heavy ear?
– she cannot speak too.
– Oh, it means that she is dumb then. I was shocked that such a young and beautiful girl married to old Husanboy. That is why, I’ll show her now – said Karim, winking at us.
He said this and hurriedly walked towards the bride. A dog named Bobik, who always follows behind him, also followed this time. The bride turned away from us and did not notice his approach. Only when the dog startled the lambs, the wife made a strange noise and tried to drive the dog away with a stick in her hand, and ran to catch the lambs that were running away. Karim was the one who chased his dog into the yard and tried to pretend to help by running to the bride who was gathering the lambs back together. This effort was not in vain.
And finally, when the animals calmed down, the bride thanked Karim by putting her right hand on her left breast, which often rises and falls because of running. When the lambs were running away, we couldn’t go at first because we were afraid of Karim. Then, saying that no matter what happens, we rushed to help with taking a stick to our necks. That’s why we did not miss the compliment of the bride who smiled beautifully at us. Then I realized her incomparable beauty even with my child’s heart, my heart really brightened. I wanted to smile in response to her smile, but suddenly I felt discomfort and my mouth, prepared for a smile, twisted awkwardly and I looked down at the ground. Amir laughed hysterically. “Hey boys, get out of here, boys,” said Karim looked evilly at us. – Go and keep an eye on my sheep, I’ll go too after a while.
Even though we hated him inside, we returned in unquestioning obedience to our grazing lambs. But our thoughts and eyes were on Karim, who was trying to explain something to the dump bride by gesturing. We were in awe of this man who was casually interacting with a beautiful bride. Even now, we couldn’t take our eyes off them with envy and admiration mixed with a little fear.
Author of the story
Abdurakhmonova Mehri Qudratovna, poetess, writer, winner of the “Shuhrat” medal, head of the Jizzakh regional branch of the Writers’ Union of Uzbekistan.
Translator of the story
Khafiza Mukhtorzoda, a student of JSPU, laureate of the Ilhom Award. The owner of the state scholarship named after Navoi, Uzbekistan.