Short story by Gulnoz Mamarasulova (Uzbekistan)
The sun got hot all the surroundings ruthlessly – the basils which were planted on the right and left entrance of the house; carrots, cucumbers, and a number of other crops in the garden plot; a barn where sheep were worried about their water shortages.
The mother was doing housework around here. Her strong forearms were always in labor, her cheeks were burned in the summer sun. There were slices of cracks in her heels that could not see anything except dust and ditch water. Her face was looked exhausted and anxious.
The main door of the house was opened. Zumrad ran to the kitchen, dressed in a simple print dress. It is clear to her that her mother will likely be here.
“Mum, did my brother and sister still come from school?” the girl asked impatiently. Mother could hear the thumping sound of the daughter’s throat in every her breathing.
“Oh, my child, you are still hiccupping! What can I do?!” she said, kissing the daughter’s forehead as she sat near. The anxiety on the woman’s face seemed to increase once more again.
The girl stood up and combed with the fingers of her mother’s hair under her red scarf. Then she turned mum’s hair to one side and then to another side.
The woman was shaping bread on the large soorpa . She was trying to prepare hot bread until her children and husband come home from school and work. Her little child, was only five years old, follows her mother until morning tonight.
“One, two, three, five… – while counting shaped dough little girl asked for her mother: Mum, will you cook kulcha?”
As the child spoke, something else was playing “gilt-gilt” in her throat and those moments throat’s vein frequently swelled.
“Oh, my God! – mother was in tears, her quiet voice and hands trembled because of her intense anxiety. The local doctor said that she would recover soon… The doctor even trusted us but no result… Whom should I ask for help now? What a concern!” the woman whispered in a broken and trembling voice.
Her hands were shaking that was forming a round shape to the dough. Sweat was pouring on her forehead which is always beyond the shadow of the headscarf.
For three days she had no pleasure. For three days she spent nights in front of her sick daughter. Three days… But this trial was seemed to her like three weeks, three months, perhaps three years, and three centuries, probably. The time was very slow, maybe it stopped already.
The apple-tree bore fruits on the branches as the sea corals this year. When fruits became red but had not been ripe yet, the neighbor children had eaten them. Apples were still raw and hard. However the housewife worries about the health of neighbor children, she did not stop them from eating, because of neighbors’ gossip in blaming her as a greedy woman.
A few days ago a part of a raw apple hung on little Zumrad’s throat when she was jumping on the summer wire bed with siblings in the house. Her parents gave water to drink to the little girl and gave bread to eat, all of these actions were to pass the apple slice from a little girl’s throat. But useless! A thrust was heard in her every breath. The next day they went to the local doctor, after that day they rushed to the other one. Unfortunately, they couldn’t help.
How difficult for mother! It appears as if the number of wrinkles on the woman’s face had increased in the last short period of time and they had deepened. Every child has his own place in a family. If a child suffers, the mother will suffer more than him as if thousands of prickles were stuck into her body and spirit trembles. It is not easy for mothers. She must stand a lot of difficulties for every child until baby comes of age. Maybe you didn’t even think about it. Unfortunately, there are children who, sometimes ask: “What did you do for me?!” so claims from parents. Affectionate mother went through many difficulties for their children, we can’t count these suffering.
After making bread, the woman covered it with a table-cloth. She shook the flour in the middle of the soorpa and put it in the cupboard. And the little daughter was already asleep on the bed. “Alas, my poor child is breathing well at least in her sleep. Allah, ease my troubles!” she begged to close her eyes and repeating something.
Until swelling of the bread she decided to cook a meal. Ready ingredients for food, she had prepared earlier, were fried in a hearth pot, then added water. She picked up green beans planted with tomatoes and cleaned them from the bark. She filled two buckets with water and rushed towards the barn. The sheep that knew the owner from afar raised their voice.
“Obedient animals… I’m going to you, have patience!” said the woman groaning with a heavy load.
As soon as she opened the door of the barn, the impatient animals began to turn towards her bucket. She passed through the sheep hardly and poured water into a large container. The sheep put their head in the bowl and began to drunk quickly.
“Drink, animals! Today is so hot… I will bring you more water.”
So she went to the barn several times. Then she closed the door and hung the buckets on the branches of the walnut tree. She lifted the bundle of firewood by the armpits and went back. In the meantime, the tandoor was set on fire, put rinsed beans, and haricot into food.
The tandoor first turned black when it stopped her color was pale. The woman gathered the red embers with the stick in the middle of the tandoor, threw iron under embers as a sheet, to keep the bread from preheating.
The girl was sleeping peacefully as she entered the kitchen with breadbasket. “Her breathing rate is stable…” She wishes her daughter woke up without any illness. Thinking about it, the mistress picked up the bread first and the small round bead on the basket. Her daughter was asleep like a little angel, going towards to her she gently kissed the forehead of her daughter, then rushed to the room of the tandoor.
When it was difficult to breathe in the heat of the air, the mother was baking bread in front of the very hot tandoor. Embers burnt around her neck. Her cheeks were red as apples.
After a while, she carefully removed the heated cans from the tandoor by using handles. The bread was baked with mother’s love smelt sweet, fragrant throughout the yard. Before she took them out of the tandoor she sprinkled some water on them. The color of the bread seemed to glow like tulips. At the end of the process, the kulcha was picked from the tandoor and put in the basket. The woman brought them to the plateau under the apricot tree. During the bakery, she prepared the meal and the mother was continually praying for her daughter’s health. The mother begged to Allah.
“My sweetheart, get up! Your small bread is already ready to eat, she said from the side of the yard. Are you so hungry?”
Zumrad, who was appetizing for the small of bread, immediately woke up. She rinsed her face with warmed water in the sun and went closer to the table cloth. A hindrance, in the throat of a little girl, had not passed yet, that mother is depressed. The little Zumrad hurriedly reached out to small bread that was dedicated to her in the basket.
“Be careful, Zumrad! It’s hot. Don’t let your hand get burnt! Do you need to give bread with butter?”
The little girl giggling nodded. Divided the bread into two pieces and she began pleasurable to eat it. The mother did not know what to do with her throat.
“Mom, let me go to school, okay?” said suddenly the satisfied child.
“Why?” asked the woman, surprised by her daughter’s sudden decision.
“Maybe my brother and sister have also been hungry. I will give them their kulcha that baked for them”, said Zumrad with difficulty. When she spoke, her illness was getting strong.
Because of that the mother’s heart was broken. “How did this hindrance go through her throat and stay? What can a woman do for her daughter’s health at the moment? Whom she seeks a salvation from? Who can help her? Who is who?”
The mother who was suffering from such kind of questions asked the girl who was grieving for her siblings.
“My careful daughter! My little heart, it is time to give permission to pupils for returning their houses. Have patience, they will come now”, she said and wore her sandals. Her daughter was playing the tip of the table-cloth.
“Zumrad, come closer to me, my sweetheart!” she opened her arms to embrace. She cried out in desperation.
Sitting upstairs, Zumrad ran up and threw herself into her mother’s bosom.
Zumrad, who sitting near the table-cloth, jumped up from her place and ran to her mother’s bosom. That moment a miracle happened and the calamity that was left in her throat came out. It was really great happiness from God. Little girl’s breathing has also got improved. The mother who did not understand what had happened began to kiss her face and eyes continuously. Embracing Zumrad, the mother could not stop herself crying. Her lips were continually giving thanks to Allah.