“Happy holiday! Blessed the Ait!”
“Let it be so! Let your soul be happy too!”
“Once a year, every twelve months, come the desired Ait. Who have seen, who haven’t - but everyone is blessed who lived through to see it...”
Pre-lunch hour. It was windless and hot. Few animals flocked in the shadow near cow-houses closer to smoky fire. Gadflies, mosquitoes and black flies were twining around and buzzing, there is no escape from them.
Aul was full of people. Everyone was running back and forth, crowding, fussing. Everyone had beautiful dress. Their faces were shining expecting an unknown pleasure. Steam was curving above kettles and zher-oshaks - long mud stoves. Fat meat was gurgling and boiling in those kettles. Old men and women were sitting by two in the shadow.
“God be blessed! We have lived through to see this day finaly…”
Near the mud hut in the middle of the aul there were idle people crowded. And some old men and women were in the way there too.
Somebody was sharpening a knife. A dzhigit was leading a fat red bull-calf.
One man came from outside and said:
“God bless your sacrifice!”
“Amen!” the old men said in answer. “Let it be so!”
“Why are you so late?”
“I have just found the animal…Times are different nowadays, it's hard just to take and cut...”
Zhumagasy and Zaikul were speaking aside.
“Go and take part in the slaughter. I don’t need it…”
“What do you say, oi-bai?! You go…I wouldn’t take any offence…”
“Go, you old woman, don’t be shy. Zhymeken has allowed.”
“No, no, you go…Got will take your sacrifice and favore…”
“Stop it…don’t try to talk me into it.”
“I don’t know how to cut an animal… And I don’t know any prayer.”
A beauty left a white otai in the first ray wiggling her body. She had a light-blue zhaulyk with patterns on edges and tassels on her head. Blue plush jacket was all in precious adornments, pendants, stripes and trinkets of different colours.
She stood a little in front of the yurt, looked around and called:
Erkezhan! My dear!”
A good-looking fragile girl of sixteen came out. She was dressed head to toe. The young woman smiled:
“Let's bring some water. There is Aidarly, my dear, dragging…”
Two fops came closer to the girls. One of them gave a pinch to the young woman behind playfully.
“Leave me alone, oi-bai…Such a shame…”
“Where are you going, such a well-dressed girl?”
“I am going make some visits…to compliment on the holiday…”
“Her husband isn’t home and she wants partying, as you see,” the second fop smiled.
Moldagaly was skinning his grey goat in the mud hut shadow puffing and sweating. Uali came closer.
“Let the Ait be generous to you!”
“Glory to the All-Merciful...”
“Have you sold your gimber?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Then sell it to me. I will cut it and prey for my grandmother.”
“Give the money!”
“You will get it in autumn.”
“That’s not the way it works.”
Uali left and Modagaly snorted skinning the corpse furiously:
“He is dying from hunger but do the same…speaks about sacrifice offering. He's lying, that evildoer… He wanted to cheat me, to eat the meat for a song!”
There were three hovels on the outskirts on the wind near the swamp. There was no animals or men around, even no kettle on the mud stove. Even mosquitoes didn’t fly there. Two were sitting in the shadow of the last hovel doubling up, ragged and dirty: a girl of twelve and a woman of middle age. Their faces were yellow; their eyes were exhausted and swollen. They were signing difficult as if their hearts were breaking: “Po-o-oh…” Ait, the holiday that everyone was so glad with, seemed to be a torment for them. Only one thing could be heard:
“Poor we, so poor… So desolate…
A man came closer from the aul side limping slightly. He was also ragged. He had a bag on this neck.
“How is it, Backen?
“What to ask?...Grief, such a grief for us…”
Man felt as if shot and cried.
“Right they say if God punished, even the rich man could die from hunger… How is Zeinep?”
“Her eyelashes have moved recently. But I don’t know now.”
“She must have deceased too…”
He took the bag off from his neck and threw it to the ground. It seemed that there was something in it.
“Have you got something?”
A boy and a girl of six-seven ran out of the hovel, totally naked and skinny. Having seen a rolled skin with blood spots they sprang at it and began fighting.
“Stop it, you, little devils! Here you are…ear, heart…”
“That’s all…for the whole day?!” his wife asked.
“But what can I do if they don’t give anything?! Here is a ball sack of a goat…and that is ear, heart…And that what I took at a dump…and won over dogs. People have no mercy… I asked Ulbalu, the baibishe: “Could you give at least some blood of the sacrifice animal?” But she began crying! “That’s enough,” she says, “that I have been feeding you for the whole year.” When she gave anything, I couldn’t remember…”
You are such a butter fingers… You poor! If I went, I could help washing bowels, we could eat some tripe then… But my damned illness didn’t let me to go again. Oh, God!..”
People were flowing to the aul from all sides. In groups or alone. Mounted or at arabas.
It was crowded near the white yurt in the middle of the aul. Waggons, horses… the youth was everywhere. Gang of some yearlings was going from house to house, gathering presents and gifts. The aul was partying, having lot of noice.
“Let the Ait be blessed!”
“Let the good be always with you too!”
There were about five men near the mud stove. They were speaking about something and shaking their heads sadly.
“Ai-ai!.. Such a pity!.. Such a man has gone…”
Running from one to another, the news came to the crowd near the white yurt…
“Backen had died… With his wife.”
“Ay, poor they!..”
“That's good that they died because they haven't lived anymore but suffered.”
“Poor they… Their souls must be clear and sinless if God took them in the Ait days.”
“That's the life, dzhigits…” an old man with a white beard said thoughtfully. "I remember it has happened many years ago… During the Ait there were racing on the plain named “where the bull died”. There was lots of people and Backen gave to drink kumis to all of them to the full. And now he and his wife have died from hunger… Dzhigits, everyone who knew the deceased and took his food, pray for him. After the meal pray for the soul of the servant of God would be in peace...”
They ate some meat, drank some kumis and went in a crowd to the hill behind the aul where the cloth was waving. The plays were going to began there. Nobody has even remembered about the aqsaqal’s please to pray for the deceased…
The Baiga-racing, fight, joy… If even somebody was speaking about Backen and Zeinem died from hunger, they were speaking only about that “their thoughts must be clear because the Hightest deigned to take them, the poor, in the day of the holy festivity.”
 Muslim religious holyday after the fest.