THE DOUBLE-TROUBLE / Short Story by Gafur Shermukhammad (Uzbekistan)

 
Gafur Shermukhammad (Uzbekistan)
 
Gafur Shermukhammad was born in the Chirakchi district of the Kashkadarya region of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Studied at the Faculty of Journalism of the National University of Uzbekistan. He worked in the newspapers “Word of the People”, “Rural Life”, in the national agency “Uzbekkino”, in the Union of Writers of Uzbekistan. Member of the Union of Writers of Uzbekistan.
His short story collections have been published, plays based on his plays have been staged, and also about ten feature films, animated and documentary films were shot according to his scripts.
The film “The Rider”, based on the script by Gafur Shermuhammad, received the Grand Prix in the “Honor and Dignity” nomination of the International Sports Film Festival in Milan (Italy) in 2009, was awarded silver medals from the Leaf Fall ( Russia) and Kinoaziada film festivals (Kazakhstan), became the owner of the Grand Prix of the International Film Festival “Sports in Film and Television” (Uzbekistan).
For great achievements in the field of literature and the film industry, Gafur Shermuhammad was awarded the Shuhrat (Glory) medal (2021).
 
 
THE DOUBLE-TROUBLE
 
When your beloved dog is rabid, it hurts a lot. Especially, on such a frosty day of winter…
I was sitting in warm sandal near the bed and having breakfast. Suddenly the door opened and my wife came in hastily. I almost poured the hot tea from the cup in astonishment when I saw the dirty tandoor stick in her hand.
“What’s up, wifie?” I said, defending myself against all odds.
“Get out quickly!” Our dog is rabid!
“What? Are you kidding? Our dog has always been an inoffensive animal, just like cats!”
My wife’s ears seemed to be deafened by fear, she didn’t hear me. She walked to the window without taking off his mud-soaked shoes. I hurried out into the yard, swallowing a bite of bread without chewing.
It seems, it is true that our dog is rabid, apparently. The poor dog is running from one side to another, barking sadly. His tongue came out of his mouth and hung like a ribbon .
– Simba, come here.
The dog stopped running and looked at me. Oh, my God! In a fit of rage, even a tiny puppy looks as wild as a tiger. Simba’s little eyes stared at me coldly, his dirty beak was foaming. Cold sweat came out of my body when I saw his face. I managed to get into the house on time and close the door. If I slowed down a little, it would attack me.
– What a disaster! Where did this trouble come from …
“Quit that, it has happened anyway” said my wife, who had regained her composure. – A rabid animal cannot recover. Get rid of this beast as soon as you can.
But I could not find any courage to get out.
“Let’s wait a little longer, maybe he’ll die himself…”
 
– The children will be back from school soon! – Said my wife. – Until then, call your marksman uncle and shoot the dog.”
Yeah, there was no other way. I took the tandoor stick from my wife’s hand and reluctantly went outside. Luckily, Simba, who was lying on the ground next to the barn, did not notice me. I walked cautiously out of the gate and ran to my uncle’s.
 
When uncle Kadir heard this news, he took his rifle hanging on the wall and cleaned it up. He then fired and put five or six cartridges in his pocket.
“We don’t let your dog bite anyone, OK,” he said, putting on a thick woolen cloak and wearing his ragged fur hat on his hairy head.
As soon as we got home, Uncle Kadir peered through the gate and watched the yard as he fired his rifle. I was standing five or ten paces away, hoping that the sound of gunfire will not damage my ears.
“You can’t see your dog, can you?” Said my uncle, shrugging his shoulders.
We, uncle and nephew entered the yard without losing vigilance. There was no sign of Simba. At that moment, I noticed a burning smell coming from the oven.
“Maybe, poor Simba had thrown himself into the burning oven!”
My uncle took his rifle and look at the oven.
“It’s a disaster,” he said angrily. “Where was your wife? Didn’t she pay any attention to the dog?”
Poor Simba! He was about to die in a rage, now he had burn himself in the oven.
I was so upset that tears welled up in my eyes. Involuntarily, I leaned over the oven. Surprisingly, there was not any dog. There was a loaf of bread, which had been burnt and turned into black charcoal.
At that moment, the door opened and my wife came out of the home.
“Where’s Simba?” I asked her.
“He just ran out to the street,” she said in a depressed mood. “I wish he was dead besides being a rabid! Because of him I accidentally burned a loaf of bread”
– What will I do if he have attacked to people in the street! – I said in a fear.
 
My uncle and I walked around the village looking for Simba. But we could not find the dog. We explained the situation to the people we met along the way and told them to be careful.
“If your dog hasn’t die in some nook, he’ll go home,” said my uncle.
The two of us hid in the shelter of the cage near the gate and waited for Simba. My uncle had a rifle and I had a tandoor stick. My wife and kids were sitting near the window, closing the door firmly. As soon as Simba enters through the gate, my uncle shoots him. If it goes wrong or the dog is slightly injured and tries to attack, I need to protect my uncle until he reloads his rifle. I don’t think I need to get involved. Because my uncle is a sniper who hits a sparrow in the eye.
I stared at the gate and felt sorry for Simba. What a clever dog he was! My eldest son found him somewhere while he was a little puppy. In three or four months, he had grown up and became a real dog. He was a good dog although he was small, he guarded our yard better than any other dogs. If a stranger came in through the gate, he wold attack like a lion! Thanks to him, the chickens of the neighbors and the stray cats that would make a mess in the kitchen in the middle of the night never got nearer to our house again.
And he was beautiful. His long, white hair shone like silver, it was so nice . In the movies, foreign women walk around with puppies like him in their arms like a holding a baby.
It’s hard to lose a dog like that! I laughed when I saw my best friend’s wife and children grieving over the death of their dog. Now I know that it was not easy for them …
My uncle and I have been staring at the gate for a long time. Meanwhile, the clouds in the sky became thicker and the wind began to blow. My uncle was wrapped in a thick cloak, but as I my clothes were not so warm, the cold passed into my bones and my hands and legs became numb. On top of that, I was hungry and wanted to vomit. In the barn, however, the cow, who has been neglected all day, began to moan loudly. As If it’s the only hungry animal here! As soon as we solved Simba’s problem, I would then get into the hot sandal and eat something. On the contrary, there is still no news of this troublesome dog.
Near the evening, my uncle Kadir got bored and stood up.
“I can’t get to the target in the dark,” he said. “But you stay awake. If your dog comes back in the evening, make your way and pour water over it. When water touches the body of a rabid creature, it dies without a word.
Just in case, we sent the kids to my uncle’s house. Then, in consultation with my wife, we put two buckets of water into the house.
Oh, my God! Just after my uncle left, Simba appeared in the yard! He was a very intelligent dog. Looks like he sensed that we were going to shoot him.
Simba saw us looking out the window and slowly approached towards the house. Seeing the poor dog’s condition I began to feel even more depressed. In just one day, his silver hair turned into a thin ash-like wool. His shaggy tail was turned down among his legs and he was crowling like a ghost. His tongue came out from his mouth and was swollen like a drum. He was so tired that he could not bark, and from time to time he growled in a hoarse voice.
“Oh, poor dog, what a pity” said my wife, weeping.
“We have to help him,” I said with a sigh. “Give me some water.”
“Maybe he’s not rabid?” Could we not hurry until tomorrow …
“Do you need more proof ?” I said angrily. “His eyes tell it all.”
My wife grabbed a bucket with water and walked away. I slowly opened the window. Simba was staring at me sadly.
“Agree with us, Simba!” I said, I was so upset. Then I splashed the water from the bucket. Simba didn’t have time to run away. From head to toe, the dog was soaking wet. He whimpered weakly and ran to the gate.
In the evening my wife and I sat for a long time remembering Simba’s deeds and good qualities. We were both in a bad mood. My wife also had tears in her eyes once or twice.
I was so tired. I sat and talked and fell asleep. In the middle of night my wife woke me up.
“It looks like someone is walking in the yard,” she said in panic. “There’s been some noise”
I stopped my breath and listened. Outside, the wind howls, and from time to time from one corner of the yard to the other, the sound of countless bottles is heard. A soft, faint, but mysterious sound that could frighten anyone!
“Turn on the light,” I said, getting dressed.
“What a mess! They turned off the electricity.”
I found the window with some difficulty, and looked out. There was no light, no light. There was strange voice of bottles and a rattling sound. At one point a mysterious noise began to be heard near the window. “May God help us” I said, closing the curtain and getting into bed.
“What was that?” My wife asked anxiously.
“I don’t know … I can’t see anything in the dark.”
Suddenly, a faint sound came from behind the window, and the window seemed to crack. Another squeak was added. The poor woman hugged me tightly. Her body was trembling as if she had fever. To be honest, my situation was not better than her. Those voices did not stopped at all. There was a rabid dog problem all day, and now this trouble in the evening … It’s been a real headache for me.
“Won’t you come out?” Said my wife angrily. “You’re a man!”
What a mess, I didn’t take my uncle’s rifle. At least it was nice when the tandoor stick was next to me. A sane person does not go out with nothing in his hands at such a time. Involuntarily, I got up. Went slowly towards the window and punched the window sill.
“Get out of here!” I shouted snoring. “Otherwise, I’ll open a window in front of you with a gun!”
The mysterious creature seemed to be frightened by my impressiveness, and stopped scratching the window and run away. My self-confidence increased and I felt some satisfaction.
“Don’t be afraid, wife, I expelled the creature away,” I said. “They won’t come back our home!”
Till the morning, the noise in our yard did not stop. Would sleep come to your eyes at such a time? I almost lost my mind at the frightening thoughts. Once I heard from my grandfather that when the evening came, the demons came out to the earth and roamed until dawn. If they met anyone, they didn’t hesitated to attact. Who knows? There are many sins in this world that the human child does not understand. We should sacrifice a rooster!
On the contrary, it was so long night. We lied in bed listening to the mysterious noise as we was holding each other’s hands and swallow our breaths. The unexpected trouble had brought the two of us very close to each other. At last, the wind stopped and the sound of bottles began to be heard less.
Finally, the red rooster in the cage squawked. His squeaky voice sounded as sweet to my ears as the sound of a flute. As the curtain crack began to lighten, I begn to breath freely as if a mountain had fallen from my shoulders.
My wife had fallen asleep early in the morning. I got up carefully and opened the door so as not to wake her. It was snowing outside, and everywhere was white.
Suddenly I heard the familiar voice right next to me! If there was a more cowardly person in my place, his heart would stop. As far as I could see, Simba was staring at me flatteringly in the doorway.
There is no sign of yesterday’s tragedy. His swollen tongue was already back to normal. Countless ice pieces hanging on his long hair, hit each other as he walked, making a croaking noise. At first I couldn’t understand anything and just stared at him. In the evening I remembered pouring a bucket of water over Simba, and I understood everything. The poor dog’s wet hair froze in the cold of yesterday night…
Simba was not rebel.
It turned out that in the yard of our neighbor Bahrom, the dog licked a hot floury soup cooked for cattle and burned his tongue. Who would have thought that the greediness of this tiny dog would cause so much anxiety?
Simba has survived, but because of him, the hens in the cage suffered. Because that day we slaughtered a red rooster as a sacrificial animal and had a small ceremony.
 
* An item which is used for heating the house

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