Short story by Vagif Sultanly (Azerbaijan)
Waking up in the morning he went to the balcony and didn’t believe to his eyes: the yard was completely disordered and the garden turned into jungle of monuments.
He promptly understood the secret of and reason for the anxiety filling his soul.
The copper-colored monuments were sparkling under the moderate rows of the morning sun. This appearance unusal for his eyes collapsed his slumber and destroyed the memories of years.
The freshness of the morning had disappeared. The monuments had color of copper and the garden also was smelling like a burnt copper. As this smell filled in his nose he felt heavy breathing and constricting.
He never cared that the time was imperceptibly flowing like a moderate wind and everything was melting and disappearing in the far and inaccessible horizons of years. But now, feeling the color and harmony of the sunset of own life in his vessels he desired to return to that far and inaccessible world.
But this return was not easy; his imaginations had got dry.
He didn’t know the reason for, but the world for him started and ended in this village. As if, living the last days, he thought that the village’s life also would complete together with him and got scared…
Everything he saw in the yard and garden seemed to him strange and alien. He was waking up in late night by whispers filling into his ears. Going to the balcony he listened to the night’s silence trying to realize the source of the whisper. However, as soon as he appeared on the balcony the whispers gradually stopped and the night was filled with silence.
He apprehended going to the yard and garden in nights and was listening to the darkness from the balcony. He was afraid of this darkness thinking that the the garden may turn into abode of genies and satans. Returning to the bed he heard the whispering voices again.
Although he didn’t understand the whispered words, he tries to realize the secret and reason for these whispers collapsing his dream.
In daytimes he was going to the garden and patiently reviewed everything around trying to find the trace and source of the whispers heard in nights.
Not only the house and garden and yard but also the stones and earth, water and even the clouds in the sky had acquired a strange color in the old man’s sight. The birds’ warbles sometime heard in the garden simultaneously with sunrice presently disappeared and now, near the night several crows were croaking and flying over the yard till darkness. Upon darkness the birds flew away and returned the next day in the same time. This event repeated every day.
While the crows were flying over the garden he felt that the monuments were revived and establishing intercourse with the birds and tried to explain anything and this circumstance filled his soul with fear. The whispers of the monuments mixed to each other and destroyed the night’s silence. The crows were flying lower in a circle in order to hear the monuments’ voices.
The old man was watching the circle traces of the crows in the sky. He thought that upon the birds’ flying away, the traces of their wings stay in the air and update every day.
The trees and flowers in the garden had changed own initial appearance and lost own odour. The garden and yard were smelling not of flower but death. Trhe depth of flowers and trees were full of blood and he couldn’t understand whether this blood leaked from earth or trunks of trees and flowers.
Not only the garden and yard but also the ground he was walking over seemed strange for him. He didn’t dare to tread on the ground of the garden as if stepping on a corpse.
…And now, seeing the garden’s turning into a jungle of monuments completely discovered the secret of the anxiety filling his soul within months and years.
He tried to imagine the previous appearance of the yard and garden and remember the land where sometime he planted trees, flowrs and bushes, but failed because his past was destroyed. As if he neither was born in this land nor spent his life and destiny here.
He was fallen into a stupor not knowing how to release from the monuments rising from the ground. The monuments looking like each other had occupied the garden like weed and covered everything.
Sometimes he tried to clean the ground from the newly rising monuments but not completing cleaning a part of the garden monuments appeared in its another part. Besides, the monuments were rising so fast that he could not succeed to complete cleaning them.
His soul was crushed while roaming in the garden. He felt tensity of the garden turning into monuments in own blood and veins. Standing in front of a monument he remembered the times when it was a tree and his spirit and memory ached.
He used to deal with agriculture; he established a large garden, planted varous fruit trees and grew rare kinds of seeds. But now, he was amusedly looking at the trees and bushes planted by him turning into monuments. The garden lost own variety and colors due to these monument and acquired the same color.
He tries to burn the monuments he gathered in the garden but couldn’t light them. The monuments were not lit but their heap increased day-by-day.
The peasants had left the village and nobody was seen. The rusty locks on the doors of the empty yards were trace of absence of life here. He was offended to the people abandoning the native land where they were born and grew.
Before he joined to old people of the village living the last days of own life and spoke in various topics. The number of houses with light windows gradually reduced and he got afraid of thoughts that sometimes this village would become quite empty.
The Earth was whirling in reverse direction. Everything in his world of memories became topsy-turvy and everything in his memory seemed reverse in his memory. He felt that even the crows whispering from the sky with the monuments also flew head over heels. Sometimes he thought that he lived his life quite in reverse and his years passed in reverse direction.
The wheel of the evenings and morning also was whirling in reverse direction; days started in evening and ended upon sunrise. As if, the natural flow of the life was made a not and it was whirling in reverse direction for being undone.
It was still early and darkness was too far. If it was dark, he could see the lights in the windows of the houses and approximately know how many people remained in the village.
However, not having patience for waiting for the evening he carefully opened the yard’s door and went out.
The old man didn’t believe his eyes: the road, pits and ditches were surrounded by monuments.
Carefully stepping on the road surrounded by monuments he went to the end of the village.
He reached the pasture where the cattle of the village grazed since spring till the late autumn. He couldn’t recognize this pasture. The green grass turned into monuments and became an impassable jungle.
The old man observed the monuments’ forest lasting along the river up to the horizons. The forests where he spent his childhood and youth lost own color and freshness and became unrecognizable due to the risen monuments. Now, amusingly observing this monuments’ forest he trembled like a passerby losing own way.
Looking around the old man tried to find any trace in this place where his memories were split but the only thing familiar for him was the sun shining in the sky and everything else had lost its color and freshness.
While the sun was setting he felt missing and being crushed among the monuments.
The sunset reddened the monuments.
The old man slowly returned home. Entering the yard it was already dark.
He went to the balcony and looked at the village houses on the mountain slope through the darkness.
The last house of the village also was lightless.
The village was empty.
Later, when it became quite dark the old man’s soul was covered by loneliness. He was obliged to spent the first lonely night in this village since long years. He was very afraid of it. Maybe, not knowing that the village was empty it would not be difficult to endure till the morning. Any case, he got accustomed to live alone within many years.
Entering home he felt that the walls were moving towards him and couldn’t stay inside. When he went to balcony again the moon was in the sky. The milky shines of the moon were thrown over the copper-colored monuments and made the night light. In this lightness he felt that the village was not empty but lived in silent night like many years before.
The old man’s anxiety gradually increased. If he stood till the morning he would eternally leave the village in sunrise. He was not going to live alone in an uninhabited village among the monuments.
Before going to bed he started to make all ready for a journey. However, he knew neither where to go nor what to take because he had nothing except a set of dress and few money collected for buying a shroud.
He went to the bed but couldn’t fall asleep. His arms and legs, bones and muscles were aching.
The years of his memory passed through his memory pages-by-pages.
* * *
At the crack of dawn he stood up, dressed and taking the black leathern bag prepared from the evening he went to the balcony, slowly went down the wooden stairs and went towards the middle of the yard paved with pebble. Both the house and the garden was evidently seen from here.
Before starting the way he observed the garden, yard and the native house he constructed with own hands and lived in till the present day. There was not any trace of his creature and everything was completely changed and became alien.
He opened the yard’s door and went away and… couldn’t believe his eyes. The road passing through the village was covered by monuments rising from under stones and gravels.
…He hardly walked through the endless monuments. Walking was very hard and sometimes impossible and, he looked for a sparse place of monuments to pass.
Suddenly he felt strange senses in his body and movement of his extremities. As if, his arms, knees and ankles were stark.
Quickening his steps he tried to move away. But his legs were heavy and did not obey his will.
He tried to pull himself together but failed.
He got horrified by the terrible though appearing in his mind: he was turning into a monument.
Translated from Azerbaijani by Javid Abbasli