The Picture of Dawn
Writer: Mekhri Abdurakhmonova
Translator: Khafiza Mukhtorova
I stood there wondering what to do. then involuntarily I ran after the sheep. What I saw and heard now was like a dream.
It is so strange that I am running now. As I am running, for some reason, I felt like I was going to fly away with a scream that was stuck in my throat. But it couldn’t get out of my throat, and I was still running without jumping or flying.
There is something here that I don’t understand, and I have a feeling that it is something very terrible. My legs are constantly running; my ears are ringing…
I suddenly tripped over something.
The wave inside me burst out… I pressed my face to the ground and cried… I don’t know how long I lay in this position,”Abdusa-m-a-a-ad!”
I regained consciousness. I raised my head and looked in the direction of the sound. Far away, on the hill, Amir was calling me waving his hands.
Tozagul was standing next to him, her red silk dress reflected as gloomy as the dawn.
“I won’t go,” I whispered.
“I won’t go,” I wanted to shout. However, my voice did not come out of me. I got up and cleaned the pieces of straw from my shirt. Then I hugged my knees and sat down.
I didn’t say anything this time. The fact that Amir, who always calls me “Absamat”, calling me by my full name seemed to distract me for a moment.
I looked at the hill. Amir was running down.
At the top there was still a red dawn reminding the setting sun…
Only this dawn was different from usual, it was as precipitous as a dagger stuck in the sky and very sad……
– What happened to you, friend? Did the demon bewitch you? If I say he went to the water, you drove the seep here? Your eyes went red… Did you cry?… Get up.
I didn’t say anything.
– Okey, if you don’t want to say it, then you don’t have to. I am about to gather the sheep. We will return to the village. The beautiful bride also waited for her sheep. Karim drove away his cattle. You go and take the shovels.
He said that and ran away. I still didn’t know where to go. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone…
I said to Amir’s call, “Go, I’ll catch up with you”, and waited for until they started going towards the village.
Then I found my sneakers on the hill, put them on my feet, and turned towards the village absorbed in the dawn where the dust and pollen mixed with the hooves of the cattle…
While artist was telling the story with a smile, I felt like returning to that distant childhood for a while, hearing the rustling of wheat fields and the bleating of sheep, smelling the dear smell of dust that raised because of flocks.
How familiar, how pleasant the scenery!
I just asked with a sense of a bad ending.
– What happened then?
The artist poured the tea prepared by the worker of the center and handed it to me. Then he poured for himself a couple of sips, put the cup on the table and sighed deeply.
– Then I stopped herding sheep with them. I used to wake up early and come back to the shed, rest at home during the hot day, and then I would come back there until late in the afternoon. Amir attended Koshintepa with them.
September came and studies began. We studied in the second shift. One evening, when we were returning from school with the boys, Amir softly whispered to my ear:
– Absamat, go with me, I’ll tell you something.
– What’s the matter?
– Go, go. I will say further.
We went to the edge together. After looked around, Amir whispered: “Yesterday, Karim kissed the bride on the hill.” “I have seen them, and he told me not to tell anyone” – he said.
I was twelve years old in those September days. I already have my mind, but my heart fluttered from this statement.
– You didn’t tell anyone except me? I said worriedly.
– I only told my mother. My mother won’t tell anyone. The same goes for you. Shut up, – He pressed his index finger to his lips.
I was sad again. Karim seemed like the worst person in the world.
What should be done?… Shall I lie in wait at night and attack with stone?…
September was very hot that year. On Sunday, my father went to his distant friend’s wedding. My mother was also at the neighbor’s house. After we had lunch, I was slowly looking at the street and trying to go out, but my sister Bashorat noticed it and gave a strict order:
– Abdusamad, wash your hands right now, go to a cool room and sleep. Don’t even think about running away.
– Uhh, why don’t you leave me alone. I am not a child at all, “Don’t do it, do it”. Now I want to play.
– You don’t play. Isn’t it enough that you played in the soil all summer? Look in the mirror, your face is covered in netting like a netted melon. I put curtains on the windows and made it dark inside the house. If you sleep for even an hour a day, your complexion will be much better.
Reluctantly, I washed my hands and entered the house. It’s good that I got rid of raising cattle when I started studying, but I didn’t like my “fascist” sister’s questions more and more.
When I was being harassed, my mother used to tell my sister Bashorat jokingly, “Why you won’t leave my son alone, Pascist* (fascist),” I would immediately correct my mother “Not Pascist, but fascist”. I would be happy on my own. Because my sister is a fascist, I am a Soviet. The Soviets are always good.
Okay. After a while, my sister also goes to sleep. I will run away slowly.
I fell asleep watching my sister sleep. At that time, I woke up to a humming sound coming from the porch. Amir’s mother was having conversation with my mother.
– Actually, your son Abdusamad is very clever boy. His clothes are always clean. My Amirkul doesn’t use his brain. He has no mind…
Mm, are they praising me?… I got up and went to the window and began to listen carefully to what they said.
– Don’t ask about it, dear. One day, when I prepare dumplings for lunch, Amirkul didn’t come. I went door to door and asked all his friends for him. Nowhere. Panic struck my heart. Partly because of the heat, partly because of the enemy heart, I looked for him with black sweat. Luckily, Oyposhsha’s bride, who does not sleep even in the middle of the day, went out for the water. “I saw your son going to the direction where the hay is kept,” said blessed bride. I ran to this direction in a panic.
When I go there, Amirqul’s voice is coming from a place made like a house of five or six heaps of straw. Then, I was about to call him, but a little girl’s voice came out. “Dear, is it delicious? ” Amirqul said, “yes darling, it’s so tasty.”
I pressed myself and waited to know what else is going to happen? “Dear, I prepare our bed then we will go to sleep,” said that witch. “Okay, darling, prepare our bed,” sais my stupid son. I barely stood there again. Then I knew I could not stand and yelled Amirqul, Amirqul came out in a terrible position. Seeing me, he ran back and forth to the village.
I say, “Put on your pants, son,” he didn`t look at me. Girl was the hell daughter of Xosiyat. When I say, “Your mother is a good wife, what the hell are you doing here?” “Mem, we were just playing,” she said. “Play at home with all your friends.” You cannot know if your game will catch fire and make you die, bitch,” I said.
I came home carrying my son’s pants.
When I said, “Something wrong with your behavior?” he said, “Mom, we were playing a game.” I said “You better die instead of playing the game”. I didn’t say die until that time…
That is why his behavior was like that? There was another reason of it…
Amirqul’s mother lowered her voice and said, “Husanboy’s marriage was broken.” The dumb wife was in a romantic relationship in the field with grandson of the old woman Banot…”
I don’t know what my mother said, what she did. Suddenly, I ran away from the window and went into the inner room. I hated myself for listening to their talk secretly.
My mother used to feel sorry for the dumb girl. Now she knows everything and she can hate her…
Curiosity got the better of me anyway. After I calmed down a bit, I went to the window again and listened to their gossip.
“Oh, neighbor, you said this once, don’t say it again.
The consequences will be bad. Instead, let’s go to grandma Banot’s house and prevent unpleasantness. If she sent his grandson to another place, she would prevent some problems without a word spreading.”
In those moments, my love for my mother has increased. Reassured that everything will end well, I drove away the unpleasant thoughts that had been crushing my heart for a long time and calmly entered the house and turned on the TV.
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.