The Picture of Dawn
Writer: Mekhri Abdurakhmonova
Translator: Khafiza Mukhtorova
Summer vacations have already started. Our teachers wanted to take the best students of the school on a trip to Tashkent. I was happy to have myself on the list of travelers. I even boasted about this to Amirqul. Seeing that he was upset, I did not forget to comfort him by saying, “If you study well, you will also go next year.”
I was very excited. Because now I see the city of Tashkent with my own eyes, which I used to see only on television. First of all, it would be great if they took me to the zoo… I would enjoy watching the monkeys. Their behavior like human always amazed me. If my sister Bashorat, who is studying in the upper class, makes a joke, ” seeing your mischievous behavior, I will begin to believe firmly Charles Darwin’s conclusions that man descended from apes”. You are a yellow gorilla, and your friend Amir is like a chimpanzee, with his black body. I would run away when my sister attacked me in anger by these words: “When you begin to walk like a human, learn to work, then you will become like a human, my little monkey.”
Of course, I didn’t believe my sister’s words. Because my grandfather on my mother’s side – Azim Mullah – often said that “man is made of clay, he goes to clay”. I believe the words of my mullah grandfather more than the words of my sister Bashorat. If humans really evolved from monkeys, why aren’t the monkeys in the zoo becoming humans? This is a very strange issue…
The long-awaited day has finally come. My sister, who was watching me after making me ready, patted me on the shoulder and kissed my forehead as she said goodbye jokingly saying, “Are you about to go to see your relatives in the zoo.” I got angry and wiped my forehead with my sleeve. That’s my habit. Well, no matter how much they love me, they should not kiss my face, I hate it, after all…
From early in the morning, the square in front of the school was crowded with children – “tourists” and people who came to farewell with them. Uncle Alimardan arrived in a hurry, leading Amirqul, with tears in his eyes, to the bus while the excellent and active pupils (as the school director emphasized) gathered in different classes and were going to get on the bus. He twirled his flying mustache in anger and turned his angry eyes to the school principal.
– Well, why don’t they take my child. Does he have a defect that others don’t have? Why there are only the children of the teachers or those who is rich? Do the children of people like us always be left behind? – he said and looked at me.
– Come on, Alimardon. Isn’t it a shame that behaving like that in front of so many students without any greeting?… Let’s not hold grudges against each other without understanding the essence of the matter. We take only excellent students to the show. But your son studies satisfactorily and does not participate in community works…
– It’s not something to be ashamed of. Shame on you for breaking a child’s heart. How my child does not know that these children know? You said that he learns satisfactory, even it would be okay for him to be unsatisfactory. Test his knowledge right here in front of many people.
Uncle Alimardon made his son stand in front of the director and asked:
– Come on, tell me, my son, how much is multiplying two by two?
Everyone laughed out loud.
– Multiplying two by two is four, dad, – said Amir, looking around.
– Good job, my son. How much is multiplying four by four?
– How about multiplying five by five?
– Kak tvoy pamiliya?*
– What does chto mean?
“What?” Amirqul looked at his father guiltily.
– This is what he knows everything. He knows mathematics and even the Russian language very well. Good job, my son. Get on the bus quickly.
Smiles played on the faces of those gathered. Even our strict director softened and allowed Amir to go.
Wow… We were speechless when we went to Tashkent. Metro is very strange place. We were scorched by the heat outside, and we had fun going down to the metro. It’s cool… Only when we got into the self-propelled elevator, the girls were a little scared. But I did it.
And what I saw at the zoo are…
So, I watched the monkeys that I wanted to see. While watching the black monkeys, I remember what my sister said about the chimpanzee, and I often look at Amirqul. But I didn’t find much similarity between them. When my sister Bashorat just lied to me…
We returned from the capital city with a lot of impressions. The head of the class asked us to write a statement about this and said goodbye to us saying that he will evaluate our written work at the beginning of the new academic year.
At the beginning of the summer holidays, my father arranged tickets for me and my my friend, so that not to be bored all summer.
Twenty days passed like wind. When my father, who went to take us home, smiled and put me in his arms, tears came to my eyes as I realized how many misconceptions I had about him…
Cancer came. Being busy with sheep began again.
I woke up early and ran to the Amir’s house after wash my face and hands. He was still sleeping on the supa* built in the middle of their yard.
– Amir, wake up. Today we will feed the sheep to Ko’shintepa. If we don’t drive early, we will be left under the sun. I started to wake him up. He closed his eyes and lay down on the other side. Amir’s two brothers were also sleeping on two wire beds placed next to each other under a mulberry tree. In fact, the tall young men looked small because they were lying in a heap on the bed, the wires of which were worn out and sunk down. I immediately greeted grandmother Nozik, who was returning from milking a cow at the foot of the yard, she also greeted me and shouted at her son, who was still curled up and sleeping.
– Are you about to sleep all day with your chaos like that. Wake up, my child, your friend is waiting for you, you have integrity?
“Have you read a poem whose words all begin with the same letter?” said Amir’s elder brother and stood up, rattling the wire bed. – Hey, Absamat. Did you lose your cattle in the morning?
– I don’t want to lay with dirt like you. Cattle of others are fulled once. Active child becomes a head at his five. Passive child doesn’t become even at his fifty, said my poor grandmother. Among the children who say that I will be a person like Absamat, – grandmother Nozik hung up.
“Okay, okay… Wake up, Amir,” Sherqul said, pulling the blanket over his brother and throwing it to one side. Only after that, Amir got up, rubbing his eyes.
Koshintepa is two big hills located next to each other, not far from our village, our villagers say it Koshnitepa but not Koshintepa. The teacher Hajimurad says that the name of Koshnitepa is just misnomer. Karim dude, who comes out on the pretext of tending sheep and lies down on his side with his sheep facing us, has a different opinion.
-If you read the history book carefully, you will know the true meaning of the name of this place. On the sides of Greece there is a country called Macedonia. In ancient times before our era, a Macedonian king named Philip II had a dream. In a dream, an old man with a white beard said that if you lead an army to the east, you will see a country called Ustrushona. Instead of water, milk flows in the ditches of the land. There are two huge hills called Koshintepa around the fortress called Zomin. If you occupy that hill, the whole world will bow at your feet. Because it is said that the bottom of these hills is full of gold. Philip II was quite old at that time. He had a single heir named Alexander. The greedy king called his son and made the following will:
– My son Alex. It became clear in my dream that there is a place called Koshintepa in the east, in Ustrushona. If you take that place, you will become the ruler of the whole world. Take the army and capture Koshintepa. Dig the hill. There is a gold mine. You will destroy the world with a donkey loaded with gold.
The king said this and died. Alexander lost his composure. When he arrived in Ustrushona, he did not find these hills. Because our grandfather Spitamen did not allow it. At the same time, Alexander fell in love with a beautiful girl named Rukhshona and turned away from his main goal. Yes, the love blinded his eyes and deafened his ears, he said with a sad look at the bride who was tending her lamb a short distance away. Then he continued with a deep sigh. – Our Koshintepa survived the invasion because of love.
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.