The Picture of Dawn
Writer: Mekhri Abdurakhmonova
Translator: Khafiza Mukhtorova
Spitamen was a brave and fearless commander. In his army was a singer named Saksafar. He encouraged the soldiers by singing songs about the Motherland and bravery. As Saxafar sang before the battle.
Count your arrows in Sadok, hey boy
Hey rider, is your bow ready?
The wells collect rainwater,
Kumiss flows in the water bag,
Look at your enemies, my son –
Person who is not afraid of death is great!
Is your vulture fast, is your sword sharp? –
Hey rider, is your bow ready?…
Scythians! You hear the call!
Scythians! You hear the call!
Karim sang the song so beautifully that my body trembled and instead of the sheep in front of me, an army of cavalry came to life.
Here, our grandfather Spitamen on a black horse galloping in front of him in a blue-black color like a swallow’s feather, and on a white horse swimming like a swan next to him, our grandfather Saksafar is shouting “Ula-la” and calling the army to battle.
Here, the enemy army is fleeing towards the mountain. Alexander sees Ravshanak on the mountain. Ravshanak is hiding him in his father’s fortress.
Karim finished the song and patted his knee saying “Nah”.
Spitamen was killed by traitors… Then Alexander completely conquered Ustrushona. He conquered not only Ustrushana, but also half of the world… Alexander became famous in the West with the name “Alexander Macedonian and in the East with the name Iskander Zulkarnayn. It means horned Alexander. When people asked him, “What did you achieve by conquering half of the world, great Alexander?”, he answered, “Here, my horn grew up.” However, he could not find Koshintepa and remained in his dream. Because our brave ancestors kept its location a secret. When he was still young, he said, “I have become the owner of the whole world, but I have faced with death without identifying Koshintepa, so take both my hands out of the coffin.” So that people will see that my hands are empty.
– I have such words, brothers. It is up to you both to uncover the secret of this place.
– Brother Karim, where did the gold on the hill disappear to? – I ask opening my mouth.
– It has not disappeared anywhere. It lies underground somewhere in these hills.
– Why can’t the state mine it?
– The state is busy digging gold in other places. Moreover, they think that these words are myths. Because of this, scientists have not yet determined the presence of gold here. Once it is determined, one day the digging will begin. Until then, you can find gold if you bring a hoe and try to dig at night or in the morning.
These words made my heart flutter. At the same time, I was reading the textbook “History of the Ancient World” without stopping. The dream of becoming an archaeologist did not give me peace, and it was not aimless that I went looking for Amir in the morning. I prepared the hole with a shovel. We dig a lot before others go. It would be better if we’re lucky… It’s just that others should not notice it…
“Abdusamat,” says Amir. – If we find the gold, where will we hide it?
– We leave it to the father of the state. People write articles about us in the newspaper. “Our name will be written in history,” I say excitedly.
– Have you ever seen our father of the country?
– No, I haven’t. But I know that he is very rich. It is said that all the wheat and barley in the wheat field belong to the Father of the State. He built a school for us and gives us books. We should also show him that we love him. As we present the gold, he shakes our hands, saying, “Thank you, my children.”
Amir stared at my mouth in surprise.
When we came to the hill with our bread and water on our backs without breakfast, the sun was shining. We didn’t like it. It would be possible that those who saw the blackness of our sheep grazing on the hill came after us as if they were deprived from something.
Indeed, it happened. In the distance, a red dress was seen leading about twenty sheep. She must be Husanboy’s wife. We were not mistaken, when the red dress came to us waving in the morning breeze, I did not know Amir but I felt a little uncomfortable, whether it was because we had been going here and there for a long time.
The bride greeted by placing her right hand on her chest and gave a thumbs up in the meaning of “fine?” and suddenly burst into laughing.
She laughed so loudly that we involuntarily joined her and started laughing. We were laughing hard as if someone was tickling incessantly… We were laughing incessantly without knowing why we were laughing… Finally, we sat holding our stomachs.
We were filled with joy.
The bride began to talk to us, gesturing. We knew she missed us when she pointed at both of us with her index finger and then pressed her hand to her chest. I just smiled. And Amir repeated her actions and gestured as if to say I miss you too, and we started laughing again. She caught sight of our work tools, looked at us with a questioning look, and I waved my hand as if to say “Don’t think at all”, then she didn’t look like that again.
It seems that we forgot about her because we were on vacation for a long time. I was surprised that the wife (for some reason I didn’t call her sister-in-law), who only occasionally drove sheep, came so far from the village to graze sheep. Even if she interrupts our work, we didn’t feel bad about her, we were happy to see her. Even though we were laughing so much, it was noticeable that she was often looking towards the village.
At this time, the grain in the wheat field was harvested and the shed was opened. We have our own works in the place where the herds of sheep and cattle in the village are freely spread out on the straw-strewn expanses, but why did she come here?
She must have come to see us. How happy he was to see us, after all….
Well, if not today, we’ll start digging tomorrow…
The sheep are busy finding and eating the sunburnt grass that is preserved under the melons and the okkurays, whose rounder leaves are green in color. In the light wind blowing from the mountain, the pungent smell of okkurays was carried from Koshintepa to Korpaboy and even more to the other side of the railway.
Korpaboy is also a famous hill around our village. There are strange rumors about this in the village. The boys older than us always tell interesting stories when we go there to graze our cattle. It is said that Grandfather Erkaboy, who was returning from the Second World War, when the train was passing in front of this hill, ran to the tanbur and shouted “This is our Korpaboy!”. He missed these hills so much that he jumped off the moving train and cried pressing his face to Korpaboy…
people talk about it as if they saw it. I can’t imagine how Grandpa Erkaboy, who always keeps his serious, thoughtful eyes fixed on the ground, was crying. Old men don’t cry…
When I saw that the bride, who was laughing like a boiling teapot, looked sadly towards the village, the words about Grandfather Erkaboy passed out of my mind for a moment.
Amirqul is observe the hill with an ax in his hand. The sheep pinched the ground in pain of eating.
I’m looking at the sad face of the bride as a person who passed to drive a sheep. She just laughed… What happened?… If she could speak, would she tell me why she was upset? Looking at her, I remembered what my mother had said to our neighbor Ulbozor, when she first went out to herd the sheep.
– The poor bride seems to be unhappy even after marrying to widower. He makes the young bride to herd sheep. It is true that Husanboy has no any son. But if he had a trouble with money, would not he give his sheep to the shepherd? “It’s not good for a young bride to walk in the field,” said my mother.
– It’s better from the other side to herd sheep in the field instead of sitting at home looking at the mood of her stepdaughters, who are the same age as her. She is such a beautiful. People who see the bride have whammy on her. They said that she was a chatty girl when she was a child. Since she was seriously ill with the flu, she became deaf and dumb.
– Oh no, is the flu that bad? The flu goes away itself but the complication will be very bad, said doctor Galya. Then it is true.
– Yes, let’s not see even we hear. The flu left a bad complication in her. It is difficult without a mother. Even if she didn’t have a tongue, she would find suitable life partner. Her sister-in-law is very quarrelsome. Her brother has no mind, if he had a conscience, would he give her young sister to a man of her father’s age listening to his wife? It is true that if sister-in-law takes your destiny into her hand, you will definitely end up on the street.
… I looked at the bride with a pity.
She would go home… We have decided to stay here until tonight. When the day came, Amir agreed with me and we sent the bride back home when we rested on a platform far below the hill, under the mulberry planted by my grandfather Jumaqul. In the evening we drove the sheep home. My mother will surely be happy when she hears saying “good job”.
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.