Rainy sidewalk – Zulfiya Kurolboy kizi (Uzbekistan) / Translated from Uzbek into English by Gulnoz Mamarasulova

 
Zulfiya Kurolboy kizi (Uzbekistan)
 
Zulfiya Kurolboy kizi was born on September 15, 1966 in Jizzakh region. He graduated from the Faculty of Uzbek Philology of the Jizzakh Pedagogical Institute (1990). Her books “Life” (2003), “Angel of Evil” (2005), “Death is nothing” (2011) “Woman” (2019) were published.
Zulfiya Kurolboy kizi
 
 
Rainy sidewalk
(story)
 
She didn’t want to sit in the market anymore.
She picked up her things, which were spread out on the old rug that was laid on the ground, and walked home, carrying her bag on her shoulders.
The thousand-eyed market is behind her. Fat bellies, the noise of frivolous eyes, and the smell of rotten onions are no more.
A cloud rising from the horizon began to cover the city sky. The air smelled of rain.
It was late, her heart was troubled, and her legs were unruly, she could have taken a bus, she had money in her wallet anyway today, but she wanted to walk.
The road was wide and two-way, with all sorts of cars scurrying, screaming wildly like cruel birds.
The woman reached the sidewalk.
The sidewalk was narrow and long, and the bag on her shoulder was heavy.
The woman stared hopefully at the cars passing by on the highway. She wanted to see a familiar car among them. She thought his car was blue, no, dark purple, but all the “cruel birds” were rushing forward, ignoring the woman’s anticipation.
The anticipation added even more anguish to her anxiety, the woman’s grief deepened. She tried not to think about anything. But the bag, which did not want to fall off her shoulder, reminded her from time to time of the market, of today’s frustration.
Today, frankly, her new very large cauldron was stolen in the market.
She didn’t even notice how it happened.
Her heart sank into her boots when she realized it. She blamed herself for being a muddler. After all, a cauldron is not a small thing that someone can squeeze under his arm and run away.
“It looks like ours stole your pot when you were trading,” said a companion next to her.
“Wouldn’t you push me slowly if you saw it?” she said sadly.
The companion was furious at her words:
“Oh, did I do it on purpose?! You mean you didn’t say it on purpose when you saw it?! I was bargaining at the time too!”.
She was silent. There was no point in continuing the conflict.
It is a market. Even if the old ones are sold, it is a market no matter what. In the market, however… the thing rises to the status of a living soul. On the contrary, would she be so annoyed for a single cauldron?…
In fact, the theft is not happening for the first time. In recent times, many things have often been stolen from her. But they were trivial things. The big cauldron was brand new. It has been used twice at most. She had bought it cheaply from a neighbor old woman who had been left without a caretaker, and had been keeping it for a long time, hoping to make more money.
“If we tell Shodi pattachi , he’ll find your pot, he knows very well who stole it!” said her companion once.
She did not answer. Then her friend said bitterly, “Do you want to find your cauldron or not? Or will you be left with nothing?!”.
She wanted to cry. But she did not.
“I want to find it, because I want to sell it for better money. But I can’t bear to face Shodi pattachi again.”
Her friend replied unhesitatingly, “This is a market. Anything can happen in the market!”.
She later admitted that her friend was right, after all, this is a bazaar.
But is it possible to act impudently in the market or not… maybe? After all, what is not happening in the world?
Still, in the afternoon, she met Shodi pattachi. He listened to her complaint in silence. Then…
“When I see you, your things are always stolen, your eyes are flooded with tears! Get married instead. Get rid of household worries! Are you a married woman, or… I’m even hesitant to tell you anything!”
Shodi pattachi is a slightly strange man.
Sometimes, when they can’t pay their bills on time, he stands in front of them and talks so much that they are caught with their pants down:
“It’s as if you’ve become very smart,” he said. “You know exactly how to fool Shodi pattachi. If my wife were like you, I would kick her out of the house by kicking her in the back”. But the saleswomen still don’t pay the tax on time anyway.
There is such a faith in the market. Vendors don’t give a penny to anyone until they’re lucky in the trade and their wallets are full! They think that there will be no abundance in their trade. He will not let go without taking the money. At least he can go to their house and get the money! Because he knows almost all of the marketers, even home addresses. But he also does good when necessary, as her friend said, “He knows very well who stole it!”.
But today he overstepped his bounds!
The woman’s nerves were set on edge.
Until then, she hadn’t even told her closest friends in the market about her life. She pretended to be a woman with a husband, but people still knew everything… No matter how careful she was … she scolded herself for hearing obscene remarks from some tax collector and not hitting him in the face with her bag…
The woman, with her shoulders bent from the heavy load, stopped walking. She stared at the caravan of cars.
 
Here four months ago…
The woman, who could not find money for the trip because there was no trade at all that day, was walking home in the dark, staring at the ground.
First a long beam of light fell on the road, then a sharp brake. She ignored the thought that it was a passing car.
The light pole disappeared, and a tall, handsome man blocked her way.
He is the woman’s husband.
– What would you do working in the market? – he said, approaching her. “You’re in so much trouble, don’t you call me?”
She was silent. It was as if her husband was testing her patience:
– You sold yourself for cheap!
The woman’s heart sank, but again in a calm tone, without revealing a secret she said:
– I don’t need help.
The woman’s condition was reminiscent of a man standing barefoot on the ice in the bitter cold and saying, “I’m not freezing, I’m just shivering”.
– Eh! – her husband looked away angrily.
Her husband had always disliked and hated market women. “Only a weak woman with no hope for the future can work in the market,” he says. “Double-dealers!” he adds again.
Maybe he’s right. It is true that the daughters of Eve, who make a living in the market, lie. Often, even things that aren’t really worth it are praised and sold at a high price. But if the truth were obscure, what would she say if human beings had already been expelled from heaven?! Besides, in her eyes… a woman, in general, deserves to be hated as a person, as an individual – but there are thousands of men and women in the market, not just her. So is it possible to hate so many people?!
 
“I’ll send money tonight,” said her husband.
“I don’t need money,” she said, and fell silent.
The woman wanted to ask her husband when they would break the bond completely. But she could not ask, she did not dare. She was afraid of getting such an answer: “Well, I agree, whenever you want a divorce, I’m ready!”. Her husband stared at her tightly, then got in the car and drove off.
That day, the woman waited for money from her husband until midnight. Honestly, she would not have received the money sent by her husband, she would have sent it back, but she just… she just wanted to know if her husband remembered meeting her, promising her something. But the money did not come that day or the next. The leg of the money seems to be broken. Or someone hit and broke!
The woman sighed. The heavy bag took its place again.
The woman continued on her way.
Her husband was from a wealthy family, an educated, calm young man. She is a future composer. After a two-month acquaintance, they got married. She was amazed that it all happened so quickly. Then she found out that the banker-father had made a condition: “If you do not get married this year, I will find the bride myself!”. Her husband loved his bankerfather and would not go beyond the line he drew.
Her husband loves his banker father, who never strayed from the line he drew. After the wedding, it became clear that her husband was so heavy and arrogant that it was as if no emotion could move his heart. The new bride thought that his brain was only full of numbers in the bank.
If marriage was a blessing for a woman, frankly, it was not easy for her to get used to such happiness. She felt like a butterfly that had strayed into a luxury apartment.
Apparently, her husband thought she was ungrateful, and lately he would often repeat the same sentence: “You are my wife, but remember that you are also a musician. Create without thinking about useless things. There is a piano, paper, pen! Don’t waste your free time. People are ready to sell their conscience for such conditions, but you! ”
Yes, how noble and impassive he is.
And the woman could not digest such a cold nobility. Perhaps that is why her love for music was slowly fading, even though she lived in a close-knit family.
One day she felt that she was not as unhappy as she had imagined. She was pregnant.
But the joy did not last long. Her son, the only joy, was disabled!
To think that my child will pass without feeling the world… It was hard to look into her son’s meaningless eyes, his disabled, sick body. It was so hard… hard… hard…! As soon as she saw him, countless needles pierced her body.
Then one by one two girls were born. They were physically healthy, but could not speak well.
The woman was no longer listening to her heart. She completely forgot about music.
However, she had no idea that a sudden change in her life, a dangerous turn of events, would take place because of her beloved children.
Tutor girl…
“I will hire a special teacher to teach our daughters at home,” her husband said after handing over their disabled son to an orphanage. “I talked to a children’s speech therapist.”
She was on cloud nine by her husband’s such attention.
Soon she came into the house: young and incredibly beautiful.
 
When she came, the woman involuntarily pulled herself aside.
She then tried not to stand side by side with the tutor girl…
At first she did not realize that the teacher had entered not only her home but her life. The woman thought she was a sincere, humble, innocent girl, that is, from those who came to the city like her, seeking knowledge! She respected her. Even now she does not want to deny the girl’s labor. After all, because of that educator, she was convinced that her daughters’ future was bright. Her daughters began to speak fluently.
That is why she respected her so much. She believed in her. Perhaps she would not have believed it if she had heard from others that the tutor flirted with her husband. Unfortunately, this thing happened right in front of her eyes. There were no rumors or slanders involved.
Husband’s vain attempts to control himself…
His eyes sparkle when he looks at the girl…
The educator girl loses herself in excitement… trembles…
It didn’t seem so dangerous at first, it seemed to her to be a problem to be solved with one attack. That’s right, he finds a reason to kick the tutor out of the house, that’s all! But there is no need to hurry for now.
She missed the boat, thinking long… betrayal occurred.
No one warned her about it. Their fears, their silent confessions, exposed this. Such an extraordinary change in her life set the lady on fire, making her whole body tremble. After all, it was meanness, dishonesty!
If the husband is staring at his lover in front of her… If he watches his lover’s every step… If his body is with his wife and his soul is following the girl…
When the opportunity arose, her husband chose that tutor. It’s as if he rudely ruined the future of a pure girl, he’s responsible… If a girl gets hurt! No one in this society will spare him (i.e. her husband)!
The girl was not “hurt” or even ashamed, she changed her position of educator to wealth, that’s it!
“People are ready to sell their conscience for such conditions, but you!”
She later learned that the banker father had also issued a ‘fatwa’: “We need a healthy heir!”
When her husband offered to live separately for a while, she silently agreed, not exchanging anything for anything. She didn’t even argue. What will happen when she completely breaks up the relationship and returns to his father’s house with her two daughters?! What happiness awaits her there?!
After all, it is said that what we cannot change, we must endure without bitterness.
The husband bought her a two-bedroom apartment. They began to live separately. But for some reason he did not talk about a legal divorce. Why?
It was as if she was left alone like an orphan rib.
Interestingly, when they started living separately, the woman realized the value of family happiness, even if it was just a pinch. She began to realize that she could not imagine her life apart from that arrogant and selfish man. “My husband betrayed me, he can never be forgiven!” she said inside. But soon she regretted that she did not kick the tutor girl out of the house by beating her and that she agreed when her husband told her to live separately for a while…
“They live together because their love is as pleasant as the music. But any pleasant music will end anyway, unfortunately, my husband doesn’t understand it now, ” she says when she is afraid of the night, loneliness, shadows on the wall… when her heart trembles… when jealousy burns her…
Her husband had changed a lot.
Look at the power of love, what has it done to a man whose will was as strong as steel, a businessman?
But she didn’t want to admit it either.
“Love?! What kind of love? No, it’s not love, it’s just infatuation. A short melody that sounds when you accidentally touch the piano keys… ”
However, that “short melody” stole her husband’s consciousness so much that he could not see anything, forgot about his children, even forgot about work, and went on a trip to the mountains and the sea with the tutor.
No matter how much she tried to hide her feelings, the woman felt lonely and unhappy. Her heart was burning…
But… has to make a living to survive. She has to make a living and feed her children. Her husband gave her a two-bedroom flat, and he was vanished, as if relieved of all responsibility. What to do? After thinking for a long time, she started working at the school. She taught music. Unfortunately, the salary was not enough for the household. Alas, there are fewer hours for music lessons at school!
Eventually, there was no other option, she hit the market herself.
Her husband did not hate her in vain, the market is not a good place, a place of restless life in which the constant war of the turbulent times continues; and the world, which is quiet and joyful, revolves around it; but anyway, you can make some money here.
The important thing is not to lose yourself.
Sometimes she would sit in the market waiting for a customer and forget where she was. It was as if some mysterious-magical tone was slipping through the colorless faces and the noise of people, slowly flowing into her heart. Then she felt as if she were on some mysterious island, as if her fingers were stroking the white keys of the piano, not the old ones on the rug, and her soul was flying far away.
At the same time, someone appears, shivering from the temperatureless days of a bitter winter or a whimsical autumn, and asks:
“How much is this trough?”
Then the magical feelings that captivated her instantly disappear somewhere, and she is no longer a musician, but simply bargains with a buyer like a salesman, and here, too, he feels superfluous…
By the way, two months ago, that is, after they met by chance on the market road, her husband went to the kindergarten to see his daughters. He treated them to sweets. He gave many more gifts. He promised to take them to the park next time.
That night, both daughters developed a fever. She feels that her daughters miss their father and are suffering.
The woman regretted again that she did not kick the tutor girl out of the house by beating her. Then she dreamed of building a glorious palace on the ruins of the world…After all, she had not completely severed ties with her husband! The next day she did not send her daughters to kindergarten. The kindergarten nurse called and asked how they were, reminding her that her husband’s face looked worried last night.
A woman is a woman anyway. She suddenly woke up. What could have bothered a man who owns millions? Why did he suddenly remember his children? Did things go awry? Or is his relationship with that tutor over? Maybe he saw her real face? (People start to hate each other as they get closer.) By the way, why haven’t they had children so far?
 
Who knows, maybe his condition isn’t what the kindergarten nurse said? Maybe he just came to see his daughters?! But why isn’t he still proposing their divorce? Maybe her husband is wily old fox? Is this also a way to live in peace ?!
Eh! She was angry.
Sometimes she tries to understand her husband, but still can’t. No, he cannot be forgiven! No! No! No!
Repentance, as if her husband is apologizing to her, but she… What if he apologizes?! Is that why he did not dare to talk face to face and went to kindergarten, to his children?
“We are like cold hedgehogs, our thorns preventing us from getting close to each other…”
The woman smiled sadly, imagining herself as a cold hedgehog. Then she dreamed again and wanted to build a bridge, hoping to unite the cliff that separated her and her husband.
With that hope, she walks out of the market on foot, carrying a heavy bag over her shoulder for two months. In this hope, she suddenly stops walking for two months and stares at the road. Oh, now, first a beam of light appears, then a tall, handsome man appears in front of her…
A caravan of cars passed by on the road, but none of them could see the woman standing on the sidewalk, carrying a heavy bag on her shoulder. They could not hear her weeping proudly, which was wandering in the depths of her heart, in some of the streets of her mind.
The cloud that completely covered the sky slowly began to shed tears not making a noise…
 
[1] Pattachi means market tax collector. It is used in the story as a nickname for the hero.
 
Translated from Uzbek into English by Gulnoz Mamarasulova
 

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