Аннотация: Haldor Volcano The Moon Outside My Window (Satirical Novel) Part 2 Translated from the Russian by Alec Vagapov
The Moon Outside My Window
(17) The Return of the Dead Man
Three months ago the secretary of Uvada Factory Zubeida was put under arrest. She was accused of killing her husband Sultan Savdagar. His body was found in the flood-lands of the Karadarya River. It was hard to identify it. Sultan"s relatives recognized him from the tattoo in the shape of a snake on his right arm. His mother wept, now and then fainting. When she heard the terrible news Zubeida, too, came running. The brothers of the deceased, accusing her of Sultan"s death, gave a thrashing to Zubeida.
The militia arrested her as a suspect. She cried rejecting all the accusations. Sultan"s body was taken to the morgue. The crowd demanded execution without due process of law. They wanted to make her "tashbaran", i.e. by old tradition they wanted to kill her with stones. Bu the militia did all they could to prevent lynching. At parting Zubeida cried:
- People, I did not kill him! Don"t you believe me? It"s malicious calumny!.. I didn"t kill him...
She shed tears, but it didn"t help. She was taken away all the same. The investigation lasted long. A month later she was brought to trial. She pleaded guilty under pressure. After long whispering the court passed the verdict. She was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and sent to a penal colony. After that there appeared a number of newspaper articles devoted to the case. The TV showed alleged details of Zubeida"s horrible crime. The whole country cursed her in chorus. The investigator Khurramov was given the rank of a major for the disclosure of the crime.
Days and months went by. Suddenly, to the general amazement Sultan Savdogar turned up in Matarak. He entered the house and, finding no one there, he asked the neighbors:
- Where is my family?
On seeing him alive the neighbors shrank back. Then they rejoiced. But the elation soon faded. People started hiding their eyes. They didn"t know what to say. They kept silent. The women started crying. Then an aged woman said:
- Where have you been gadding, you devil?
Sultan Savdagar got angry:
- Why are you scolding me? After all, I didn"t go to Tumen to dance around, but to earn my living. What"s wrong about it? Where are my children? Where"s my wife?
The old woman continued:
- Oh sunny, your home is in trouble. Your wife is in prison!
- What? - said Sultan in surprise- How come? Why? Why in prison? .
The woman answered:
- For murder! She was sentenced for murder!
- For murder? Whom on earth has she murdered? - asked Savdagar.
-You!- said the woman.
Sultan Savdagar got frightened and then said:
- I don"t understand, really. That can"t be! I am safe and sound, and they put my wife to prison accusing her of having murdered me? Are they crazy?
- Yes, that"s it, sonny! It was misunderstanding. Three months ago the body of a dead man was found on the bank of the river, and they saw a tattoo on the left arm, which looked like yours. The clothes too looked like yours. But the head was disfigureв to such an extent that the militia was unable to identify the body, and they confused it with you. Haven"t you heard about it yet? - the woman asked.
-No, I came right here
- Look here - the woman said - Go to the militia station and tell them the whole truth. Tell them to free Zubeida.
Sultan Savdagar ran to catch a cab to go to the prison. Kalankhan Adalatov and I joined him. When the prison manager saw Sultan Savdagar he came to a standstill. And, shocking all those present, passed over the news to higher officials.
The prosecutor"s office got down to business and after filling some forms Zubeida was rehabilitated and freed.
Kalankhan Adalatov, assisted by an attorney, demanded an indemnity for the moral damage she had suffered. He prosecutor apologized to Zubeida on behalf of his office and promised to indemnify her for the losses and punish the culprits.
- Pardon me, - Sultan Savdogar said hugging his wife on their way home.
She looked at her husband wistfully and said:
- Why should I? You are not to blame, after all. Thank God, we are back at home. I am happy now.
Two months later Zubeida died from heart attack.
(18) The Dputy"s Double
In the morning, as soon as I came to work, I was told that the director had asked about me. I entered the waiting room and greeting the secretary asked her why the director needed me.
- I don"t know -she said.
Looking into the mirror and setting my skull-cap right I half opened the Director"s room and asked:
- May I come in?
- Aa-aa, there you are -Adalatov said. I greeted him, and he pointed to the chair:
- Sit down.
As I sat down Kalankhan Adalatov went on:
- I have a special mission for you.
- It"s my pleasure - I said - what is it?
- The task is not so simple, of course, - the Director went on - but I think you will cope with it. Do you remember my friend Tofik Tulagenich from Itpalkhan?
I thought a little and then said:
- Why, yes of course, I remember him. He is a shoemaker, isn"t he? The one who wounded his old father with a hammer, in a state of drunkenness. He then served a term of imprisonment.
- Yeah, that very man, - said the director, - a friend of mine with a false diploma. Last year he nominated for election to the Chamber of Deputies, and he made it. He is a big man now. We met at the party committee the other day and he said: "We need a reliable man. There"s an important thing for him. We guarantee a big salary. He will have many things to do. Business trips abroad, negotiations and all. In short, you will travel on public transport instead of him.
I opened my mouth wide in surprise:
- How can travel instead of him? People that voted for him will not take me for his personality.
- Don"t worry, - Adalatov said -everything has been well thought over. You"ll put on a mask, and everything will be ok, as they say. You will be traveling on a bus, going to work by metro and by tram so that people might see and say: "Our Deputy Tofic Tulegenich is a modest man. Look, he is traveling by tram along with common people". To make a long story short, I am your commander, and you are a soldier of Uvada Factory. From now on you are on a business trip. Go home. Uvada Factory and the proletariat of all lands are behind you. Go. Here is his address.
I said good bye to the Director and left his office. I went home to consult my wife. She didn"t agree with me, of course.
- Don"t go there, dadasi, - she said - it"s dangerous.
I didn"t listen to her. I packed my things in a sack and made my way to the address I had been given.
I found Tofik Tulegenich playing golf in his country house, a real villa. A pack of donkey size dogs with golden collars attacked me. I stood stock still. If it were not for the guards who stopped them, they would have torn me to pieces.
- Who are you? - the guards asked - What do you want?
They put me into the car that looked like a lawn mower going up and down a smooth clean asphalted road. When we arrived at the golf course Tofik Tulegenich stood there smoking a cigarette, club in hand, and a baseball cap on, with the peak turned back,. He didn"t even look at me, actually. The guards went up to him and told him the whole of my story.
Tofik Tulegenich hit the ball with the club, and it flew up the lawn towards the little flag. When the ball rolled into the hole Tofik Tulegenich raised his head and said:
Take him to the instructor. Let him learn for a couple of weeks. We shall see then.
The guards put me into the car again and we set out towards a two-storied building with black-out windows. I got acquainted with my instructor who gave me all I needed for study. From then on I resided in the villa learning things. Within the two weeks I had learnt all the habits and patterns of behavior of Tofik Tulegenich.
When I had finished the course I passed all the exams successfully, and they gave me a certificate with Deputy"s credentials, congratulated me, provided me with shoes and clothes and made me put on a mask.
I picked my bag, went out and I took a bus to go to town. As was riding on the bus I noticed that people were stealthily casting glances at me. In particular, one burly man looking like a shark, with fishy eyes, stared at me as if I had killed his father or something. Then he came up to me and said:
- Ah-aa a, you scoundrel, there you are! Where are you electoral promises? You took a vow that you would carry out people"s mandates! You promised to fix the roads, equip houses with modern amenities, improve the living conditions in town and all. You sad: "Vote for me, in six months you will get vodka in shops for free. Where is the free vodka? Answer, you jackal!"
The shark started strangling me, like a python.
I choked and uttered:
- When did I make those promises? I have never promised anything to anybody! My instructor didn"t tell me anything about it!
My words enraged the shark driving him out of his wits. He opened his eyes wide like a
bull on a corrida public spectacle. The whites of his eyes looked like pieces of cotton from a torn mattress. He shouted:
- Gosh! He doesn"t even remember what he promised! We must knock on his chump to remind him of that! Instead of keeping his promises, he has built a luxurious villa out of town! Thrash him!
They started walloping me from all sides. I was a living sack for them. I used my hands and arms as defensive tools to defend against their attacks. They hit me on the head, some with a rucksack, others with a balalaika.
. When I regained consciousness I was lying on the ground at the bus stop, more dead than alive. The moon was sadly rambling about the night sky. Setting myself against the pole, I got up staggering like a drunkard, stopped a taxi and went to Tofik Tulegeniche"s villa. I paid the taxi driver for the lift, and he left. The skinhead guards in dark eye-glasses came out and asked:
- What"s the matter with you, boss? Why are you limping?
I could hardly answer their questions. They put me into the car and took me to the cottage where Tofik Tulegeniche lived with his wife. The latter met me at the entrance. She hugged me warmly and asked:
- Wow, Tofik, what"s the matter with you? Who"s hurt you? Oh, my God!
Then she shouted to the guards:
- Why are you staring, you spongers?! What do we pay you for? Get lost! I don"t want to see you!
I wanted to say that I was not Tofik Tulegenich but his double. But she wouldn"t let me speak.
- You"d better keep silent - she said. Speaking is bad for your health. Let us gо, darling. I will put you to bed. We will take a bath, and then I will call a doctor. Oh, Tofik, dear, so many times I have told you not to walk alone without a bodyguard. That"s the result. God forbid, they will kill you, darling. How can I live without you? You should be careful, dear!
Saying that, she took me to a gorgeous hall with a warm massaging bath. She undressed and washed me and lay me down on the hydraulic sofa in the bed-room with candles burning around and a tiger-skin from Ussuryisk hanging on the wall.
Not willing to be disclosed I refused to see the doctor. Tofic"s wife stripped naked and lay down by my side. She cuddled up to me and started kissing me passionately. Again, unwilling to be disclosed, I couldn"t say "no" to a woman. "Come what may! - I thought - I have been suffering so long. I might as well enjoy myself a little".
We didn"t sleep till morning. Acting like mad in bed, she nearly tore me to pieces. At last she spread her white and smooth arms on the bed-sheet and closing her eyes said:
- Well, well, Tofik! You have cheated me, really! Cunning man you!
- You have always avoided doing it, haven"t you? You said you were impotent. You joker! You happen to be a real man! I am proud of you. You didn"t let me sleep till morning, my dear cowboy. Now we are going to have a baby. I feel it with all my heart. We will have an heir now! Do you hear? Oh, Tofik, I am so happy! And again she started kissing me all over.
After a nice breakfast I dressed and with the help of the guards went downtown. As we got to the place I sent them back and dropped in at an office. In the toilet of that office I took off the mask, tidied myself up and went out into the street. Then I went home. The following day I went to work and reported to the director on a successful accomplishment of the secret mission. Kalankhan Adalatov shook my hand and announced gratitude.
I serve Uvada Factory! - I said.
(19) The Soldier
Following the incidence with the coffin Usta Garib had long been going to town to see the leadership of the Enlistment Office to find out the whereabouts of his son. The officers reassured him that the search work had begun.
At last Allayar had been found. Looking up at the sky Usta Garib said:
- God be praised! Tank God, I haven"t lost my only child! You are really gracious and merciful, like the clergyman say!
I congratulated Usta Garib. Presently, Ramazanov turned up at the door and announced the good news:
.- Usta Garib, give me a hundred roubles for vodka. Your son has returned from the Army!
- Stop kidding -Usta Garib said.
- Run home, you fool - Ramazanov cried.
- Oh, good for you! What a joy! Oh my God, I thank you once again!
Usta Garib gave Ramazanov the money and ran home. As he was running by my side he said:
-Come on, Al Kizim, you will help me slaughter a sheep. We will arrange a toi
We ran headlong, and when we came to the house we saw Usta Garib"s wife stand in yard crying. Taking his breath, Usta Garib said:
-Well, congratulations! Didn"t I tell you that he was safe and sound?! And you kept crying. Go and call your son. Where is our soldier boy? Usta Garib"s wife went on crying:
- Oh, them rascals! May their houses burn to the ground! Damnation! What have they done to my son! May you be consigned to hell for ever!
-Stop it! What are you talking about, you crazy woman! - Usta Garib said.
Now Allayar himself came onto the porch. Usta went up to him with open arms saying:
- Well, hello, sonny! How are you?
Allayar hugging his dad said:
Zauri, bizho, genazvali! Gamarzhoba! Is that you Zauri? You"re alive? Haven"t you been stabbed in Kandagar? No, no, you are not Zauri. You are arruvakh! Be gone! Be gone!
Opening his eyes wide Allayar glanced at his father and pushed him. Usta Garib stepped back and said:
- What"s the matter with you, sonny? Don"t frighten me. Are you kidding?
Allayar walked up to the oven and taking the spade lying there gave it to his mother.
- Karalanyan, Norik, here"s the grenade cup discharge, take it. Why are you standing like that? There"s an enemy sniper beyond the rock, do you see? Fire! The dushmans are there!
Usta Garib"s wife, holding the spade in her hands, kept crying. Allayar went up to the grate with a fire burning in it, took a burning log out and, turning to me abruptly, cried:
- Death to dushmans!
He threw the log at me. I ran out into street and shut the gate behind me. The log hit the gate. I was standing outside the house, in a state of confusion. After some time I left. I walked home cursing war that had taken millions of innocent soldiers and turned beautiful cities to ruins and billions of peaceful people to refugees.
(20) The Secret Agents
It happened on Sunday. Kalankhan Adalatov and I were walking around the market and I said:
- Master, it has nearly slipped my mind. I, too, have to buy something.
-What is it precisely? - Kalankhan Adalatov asked.
- Birdseed. You see, our hens have stopped laying eggs - I answered.
-We"ll take it for free. At least it will be dirt cheap for us. Your hens will be happy - the Director said.
- Is it possible?- I asked in surprise.
- Why not?
-Well, if it is cheap we will buy a big quantity - I said.
Adalatov took me to the seed and corn counter. We walked around as if picking and choosing the best seeds at a good price. Suddenly Adalatov stopped before a bearded man selling corn. Before bargaining Adalatov turned to me winking slyly. Then he withdrew his trade union membership card and showing it to the bearded man cried:
- Don"t move! I am a secret criminal investigation agent! No use to resist! The market is encircled!
On hearing that the bearded man turned pale, his hands hanging down like those of a cotton doll. Then, suddenly, he picked a plastic bucket, hit Kalankhan Adalatov bump on his head ran towards the gate stumbling and hitting on passers by. Kalankhan Adalatovich took the bucket off his head and shouted:
- Stop him!
We chased the bearded man running headlong like hunting dogs after hares. The distance shortened. When were about to get hold of him he suddenly threw his caftan down, and we fell down on the heap of tomatoes turning it to juice. The woman who was selling the tomatoes shouted attacking us with a flour-sack. She hit us a couple of times, so we turned white: our hair, eye-brows, eye-lashes, faces, clothes and all. The way we looked, even our own children wouldn"t recognise us.
- Thanks for nothing! - I thought. It"s good that there were no bricks or cobbles in the sack.
Looking at the free performance of ours the saleswomen roared with laughter. We looked like circus harlequins. We stopped to apologize to the woman selling tomatoes. Instead of pardoning us, she wanted to hit us with the sack again but presently Kalankhan Adalatov showed her his certificate and said:
-We are secret agents of CID chasing a dangerous criminal.
The woman gave us way in fear. We ran after the criminal again. There were voices coming from all around:
- What"s going on here? Are they cinema produces, sort of? They must be shooting some comedy! What a place to shoot a film at, idiots!
- We ran on and on and then the militiamen joined us in the chase. Suddenly the fugitive took a pistol out of his pocket and shot at one of the militiamen who fell down. The runaway had hit him in the leg. It caused panic at the market. People ran scattering in all directions with cries, shouts and curses resounding all around. Some thought something serious was happening. Someone shouted:
- They are not shooting a comedy, it"s an action movie! They are not militiamen, they are actors! They must be pretending! Good boys! They are acting naturally! It will be a nice movie. That"s another pair of shoes! From now on the whole world will be watching Uzbek movies. It appears, we, too, have good actors and tough producers that do not waste people"s riches!
Presently the criminal took the red faced taxman hostage putting the pistol to the poor man"s head. The latter got scared and, like a little boy, burst into tears. A few minutes later the barking of guard dogs resounded at the market. The special forces of militia have encircled the market.
One of the officers, a loudspeaker in hand, started negotiating with the bandit. The latter put forward his conditions. He demanded two hundred thousand US dollars and a military helicopter. Otherwise, he threatened to kill the taxman. If in half an hour, he said, his conditions
were not fulfilled the taxman would be collecting taxes in hell.
То save the taxman"s life, the authorities agreed to pay the money and let him have a military helicopter as he had demanded.
When the detectives had left to fetch the money, a mullah from the local mosque called the bandit for reason telling him not to commit a sin. The pirate wouldn"t listen. He said:
- Don"t try to push me into the sack and hand me over to the cops, you traitor! You venal mullahs always serve the disgusting rulers by your stupid preaches and by pushing people into sacks.
The mullah raised his hands to the sky and cursed the pirate
At last the money had been delivered. The helicopter was also there. The detectives in flak jackets and helmets opened the case and showed the money to the bandit. Then they closed the case and pushed it to his feet. Sliding along the asphalt the case stopped at the bandit"s feet. The latter, holding the pistol against the taxman"s head, ordered:
- Take the case!
The taxman took the case with the trembling hand, and the bandit holding the taxman and sneering, made his way to the helicopter.
At this point there came an audible discharge of gas from behind the taxman.
Grimacing from the choking vapor the bandit muttered:
- Uu-uu-gh! You brute! Ugh-ugh! You damned taxman!
With these words the bandit fell down to the taxman"s feet. Seizing at the opportunity, the cops dashed off to the bandit and handcuffed him.
Then we returned home.
For three days I didn"t go out. Then I learnt that the state had awarded Kalankhan Adalatov with the medal "For Courage". As for me I was given a diploma.
That"s not all - Adalatov said. He showed me a letter written in English. It was from the Secret Agency Bureau. They thanked me for the capture of the dangerous international terrorist who was under crime detection.
(21) The Free Press
Tornado Buran, a journalist, arrived at out factory anв offered us his services of setting up a free press at the factory, i.e. releasing a small newspaper.
We believed in the prosperity of our business. Kalamkhan Adalatove told the journalist:
- I believe in you, and you, for one, should know the limits.
Tornado Buran thanked the director for trust, and we started releasing the newspaper "Uvada". We published satirical articles, caricatures, poems, short stories and, of course, advertising blocks. People took to the newspaper at once. Tornado Buran placed my poem in the paper. It was published under the name of "The Love of the Store Keeper". I dedicated it to Kalankhan Adalatov"s secretary Zubeida.
One day, as I was walking along the path towards the lavatory I saw her cutting roses for the vase standing in the Director"s office. That was the moment when I had my poem generated in my mind... Sitting in the toilet I wrote the poems right on the toilet paper. These lines of poetry will go down in world literature as masterpieces of all times. Here they are for the reader to see that it is true:
The Love of the Store Keeper
(dedicated to secretary Zubeida)
I was watching from the bushes,
Like a hedgehog in the morning,
And I saw you walk in silence
Knife in hand, and not in mourning.
Like a cutthroat, with no mercy,
You were cutting charming roses,
While the fresh winds in the garden
Were swinging sweet mimosas.
Adalatov"s cut off roses
Were like Robespiere"s and Razin"s bodies.
Are the flowers really guilty?
Killing roses, what a pity!
Cut off roses you amaze
When you see them in the vase.
Al Kizim, store keeper, says:
You will pay me with caress!
When the poem appeared in the newspaper I overnight.became а famous man in Matarak
I was looked upon with ill-disposed envy. In particular, women fell in love with me sighing and making a wry face.
Fame appears to be a bad thing. To avoid the evil eye and curious looks, I would walk around with a welder"s face shield on. But they would recognize me anyway. I even made up my mind to undergo a plastic operation, like Michael Jackson did. On coming home I would reread the poem "The Love of the Store Keeper" again and again and couldn"t stop.
As for Tornado Buran, he was very disparaging. Sitting under Pegasus" wing and using the trident of criticism he pierced managers of collective farms and bankers who tended to skin the farmers alive. They didn"t thank Tornado Buran for that, of course. On the contrary, they started taking revenge on him.
The chief censor arrived from the regional center and started checking the release which Tornado Buran had prepared for the make-up. In the evening we had dinner along with the censor who said addressing Torando Buran:
- Comrade Editor, don"t forget for a minute that you don"t live in America, nor in Canada. Before you criticize someone be sure to consult us. In your feuilleton entitled "Amanov Spitting upon the Sky" you lay structures on Alexander Arkadyevich Amanov, an innocent and honest man. As a conscientious banker he gives credits to people raising their standards of living. I repeat, you do not live in Kirgizia where democracy prospers!
Tornado Buran only smiled saying nothing in reply.
The censor had a drop too much and, taking his clothes off, lay down on the sofa, in Tornado Buran"s office. We wished him good night and left for Usta Churan"s watch-box.
We long sat making up the next release of the newspaper. It was drizzling. Then a snow-storm arose, and the light went out. We suddenly heard the sounds of knocking, shouting and swearing. Someone was calling for help. It was the censor who was sleeping in the editor"s office. We ran there and saw three masked men who were making the censor eat the newspaper. The latter begged not to beat him and not to make him eat the Uvada paper. He said:
I am a censor, not the editor.
- One of the intruders asked another one:
- What on earth is a censor?
The other one answered: it must be a pseudonym. He"s the one who has written the article about our team leader. Give him a thrashing! Beat him!
They started walloping the editor.
- There you are! Here"s one for the feuilleton and for the criticizing Alexander Arkadyevich, you scabby journalist!
So having walloped the censor they left, pleased and content.
A week later the newspaper was shut down, the censor died and Tornado Buran was arrested.
(22) Kalankhan Adalatov"s Secret Life
A work collective without the director is like an orphan. It had been a few days now that our sage and indispensable Director hadn"t turned up at his office. I went to see him and find out why he was shirking work. Kalankhan Adalatov"s wife Tarzana Nikolayevna met me with tears in her eyes.
- You see, Al Kizim-aka , your brother (she meant Kalankhan Adalatov) must be examined by the doctors. He is off his feed and has lost weight - she complained.
. - Don"t worry - I said trying to console her - everything will be all right. After all, a man is not made of iron. Sometimes he can fall ill. It"s natural. Illness is only a guest. It comes and goes.
- God grant, God grant, Al Kizim-aka... Come into the sitting-room. Your brother is there, lying on the sofa - Tarzana Nikolayevna said.
I thanked her and entered the room where the sick Director Kalankhan Adalatov was lying. Seeing me he wanted to get up but I stopped him:
- No, no, you shouldn"t get up, stay in bed.
I greeted him, and asked him how he felt.
- Nice to see you here - Adalatov said - I"ve got something to tell you. But you should promise not to tell anybody the secret.
I gave him my word to keep the secret.
- Then listen -said Adalatov.
. - When you had quit work at the factory and went to work as a swine-herd we won the socialist emulation having exceeded the production plan. As an award to our work collective, the state allotted us a health resort voucher, and, in the interest of justice, I held a lottery. So I ordered the cook of the Factory that he should made pancakes and put a screw-nut inside one of the pancakes which would fall to the lot of the lucky owner of the voucher. I ate the pancake, you know, and nearly had my tooth broken by the screw-nut. I took it out carefully and suddenly a terrible thing happened: the screw-nut slipped and rolled down into my stomach, like a coin into a slot-machine of the 60ties. As a result, I was taken ill with ulcer and have been suffering from pain ever since, like a pregnant woman in childbirth. I am done for, Al Kizim.
- Don"t be a pessimist, Kalankhan Adalatovich, - I said - everything will be all right. Nowadays the surgeons perform such operations with their eyes closed. I myself have read about it in a newspaper. In the West some surgeons had even managed to solder a man"s cut off head to his body and brought him back to life. If you are afraid of surgeons then go to see tabibs, i.e. witch-doctors. They treat patients without performing an operation. There are also wizards and sorcerers that treat the sick with the help of genies. And you talk about some secrets...
- I havened opened the secret yet - Adalatov went on - listen, the point is that I am living in two different phases, in reality and in a dream. It all started when I was thirty years old. One day I saw in my dream beautiful valleys and big rivers flowing down the emerald mountain tops with the crystal clear waters glittering like glass in the sun among the fir-woods and green meadows with innumerable white wildflowers blooming all around. I walked across the meadows through century-old fir-woods, and stopped by the mountain tops where powerful streams were boiling up beneath the high granite rocks. I saw a suspension bridge over the mountain river. A solitary eagle was hovering up in the sky. I crossed the bridge and saw a rustling apricot grove. The ripe yellow pink-tinted fruits were glistening in the sun like the first-rate gold of Bukhara . An old man with a white beard and in white clothes and a white turban was sitting on a carpet there. We greeted each other, and then the man said:
- Have a taste of the ripe apricots. If you like them, take some home for your children.
I thanked him and, picking some ripe fruits from the tree, washed them in the ditch water and ate one or two. The apricots were as sweet as the honey of wild bees. I gathered some apricots into my skull-cap and, saying good bye to the old man, walked back through the fir-woods across the shallow rivers that glittered like silver in the sun amidst the meadows with blooming wild flowers. Suddenly a mounted detachment of the Red Army came out of the fir-wood. The soldiers were in red army helmets and armed with rifles.
The commander saw me and shouted:
There he is, one of those daring fellows of kurbashi Kurshembat! Kill him, comrades! They are enemies of the world proletariat and socialism! Forward, to the victory of Marxism and Leninism! Asia shall not be governed by bourgeois!
Encouraged by the "hurrah" war-cry and waving the swords and shooting from bayoneted rifles the Red Army cavalrymen directed their horses towards me. Pressing my turban to my chest so as not to lose my apricots I ran across the meadow. Shooting from their rifles the Komsomol members were approaching me. Bullets were flying right over my head. One bullet pierced through my pajama. I kept running anyway. Then I reached the wood and hid myself in the bushes.
The Red Army men stopped at the border line for the bushes were impassable for the horsemen. Leaving their horses they the pursued me running.
Gasping for breath I kept running. Suddenly the ground under my feet collapsed and I fell down the slope rolling like a torn off wheel. I only stopped when I stumbled against a girl washing the linen by the river side. She jumped up in fear and stepped back. When I got up and apologized to her she started beating me with the wet bed sheet.
- Stop it! Stop - I said - what are you doing? It was unintentional! I am a stranger here. They are chasing me!
After these words she stopped looking at me in surprise.
Why are you standing like that? Hide me quick! Or else they will come and kill me and you, too!
Presently, we could now hear the voices of the Red Army soldiers, coming from above. The shouted:
- He is somewhere here! Maybe, he"s slid down!
Then the girl took me by the hand and led me, as if I was a little boy, into the thick bushes. We disappeared. The reds lost our tracks and went away. I thanked my savior. She was so beautiful that I fell in love with her at first sight. Her thick tender hair was waving in the wind, like precious black silk. The whites of her eyes were as clear as snow. Her teeth glistened like white pearls. Her lips reminded of the petals of roses. Her face, neck, arms and feet were like ivory. It all drove me mad. We got acquainted. She said:
- My name is Shakhzoda Gizhduvanaskaya. I was born in Gizhduvan, near Bukhara. Ironically, all our family had moved to the world of dreams. We now live in a dream.
- I am Kalankhan My surname is Adalatov. I live in reality. I am Director of Uvada Factory.
. - You are a good, kind and handsome man. Pardon me for beating you with the wet cloth. - she apologized.
- Never mind - I said - They once beat me on the head with a sack of flour. Thank God, there was nothing heavy in the sack
Shakhzoda Gizhduvanskaya smiled.
- You are a joker- she said -are you going to stay in a dream?
. - No- I answered. I have to go home before my wife gets up.
- It"s a pity - she said.
- But I will coma back, by all means, Shakhzoda!
- Take care! Be on your guard - she cautioned me. And saying good-bye to me she added:
- The reds are walking around there.
All of a sudden I found myself by my wife"s side. Lying in bed like a huge cow-elephant Tarzana started scolding me:
- What"s up? Are you drunk again? Your hair looks like black karakul, all dirty and bristling up. Oh, what"s the matter with your pyjamas? What sort of hole is this? You"ve burnt it with a cigarette, eh? Oh, my lord! What have you got in your turban? They are grapes, aren"t they?
. - Yes - I answered - I have brought them for you, taste them. You see, I"ve been in a dream. Just fancy, I walk across the meadow and suddenly I see a mounted unit of the Red Army. Shooting from rifles they chase me. One of them pierces my pyjamas with a bullet.
She didn"t believe me. But having tasted an apricot she said:
- Impossible! Is it true? I cannot believe it! What an apricot! I have never tasted anything like that! It"s like honey! Why did you bring so little? You should have taken more. Tomorrow I will give you a cardboard box so that you may bring more. We"ll make jam for the winter - Tarzana said with a woman"s greed.
- No, we needn"t. There are many reds there. It"s dangerous.
A day passed. When I came home from work my wife made me put on the uniform which I had brought from the army, and before I went to bed she gave me a carton. I fell asleep, and again I saw in my dream the paradise gardens. Again passing the shallow streams and walking through fir-woods I stopped at the food of the mountain tops where the powerful flow of water was boiling and whirlpools foaming beneath the high granite rocks.
Over the mountain river there was a suspension bridge tightened with wire cables. I crossed that creaking and swinging bridge. And again I saw an apricot grove rustling beyond the river and a solitary eagle hovering up in the sky. The old man with a white beard, in white clothes and with a white turban on sat on the carpet saying his prayer. Not wishing to disturb him I made my way back to the suspension bridge where the river was boiling with powerful flows beneath the high granite mountain tops. As I approached the meadow with wild flowers swaying in the wind I saw a mounted unit of Kurshermat"s National Liberation Army. The bearded militants in striped gowns were armed with machine-guns, Mousers and Turkish cavalry swords with a one-edged, slightly curved blade.
The warriors in striped clothes and with hairy chests spurred their fast horses dashing towards me. One of them shouted: