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19 наурыз 2015 1175

Maylin Beimbet «Kurumbai’s adventure»

Негізгі тіл: Похождения Курумбая

Бастапқы авторы: Maylin Beimbet

Аударма авторы: not specified

Дата: 19 наурыз 2015

            It was a dark autumn day.

            By the evening severe wind suddenly failed and it seemed that the whole world froze having sunk into a dreadful silence because of what it was dinging in ears. The sun went down in the horizon. Purple-red sunbeams spread out like a fan. Knolls and hills being benighted from under by darkness grew dark and darkled gloomily. Thick fog grimly came from the east frightening to cover the deserted endless steppe with its dark blanket.

            It was depressingly and peoplelessly in the steppe. The grass became yellow and brown. Here and there grew black bald patches stumbled by the cattle’s hoofs. Because of these sad pictures it became so drearily that the heart shrank in the breast. It seemed to expect some wonder. Right there where now from time to time a dirty puddle dimly sparkled at the road two-three months ago or so was a meadow full of smells. And now here stuck out only warped bushes like rare hairs on a bold top. It was difficult to believe that just a while ago there swung waist-deep grass and washed waves of the lake.

            Before the sundown on the pass Rysbai dragging the legs there clambered up an absolutely wastrel horse, more truly a raw-boned jade harnessed into a cart without sledges. There sat two in the cart. From time to time when it was lashed by the whip the jade strenuously rushed frontwards, tried to break into a trot but in a while or so it broke again into habitual pace. It even walked somehow sideward, drew the shaft and all the time kept a watchful eye on the hateful whip. No sooner it flew above her and the jade put on pace.

            In front there sat a round-faced, narrow-eyed, dumpy black man with hardly noticeable whiskers. The lower lip evaginated plumply. The man sucked nasybai. Habitually twitching the reigns and waving with his whip from time to time he spat through teeth left and right and keeping silent looked in the distance. It seemed that he was thinking about something. This was the actual aul chairman of the fifth aul soviet, a deft and nimble man – Kekekbai.

            Behind him there sat a young, good-looking dzhigit with rosy cheeks in a worn black overcoat, in a peaked cap and tote a gun. His weapon – a sabre – lay on his knees. His legs were about to train on the ground. He was a volost’s policeman. His name was Kurumbai. But in the Kain’s volost people preferred to call him respectably “Kurele”.

            When the wanderers climbed on the top of the pass sunbeams strengthlessly darkled and the sun disappeared behind the horizon. Thick darkness gradually opened out its wings. The aul was situated behind the pass in a valley. There was seen and swam smoke over the clay-walled huts; there barked dogs and mooed cows. Either from the aul or from the side of pasturage there suddenly heard a song:

            My chestnut puts in weight eating oats.

            Who does not suffer from love in the world?

            When you do not tryst,

            In grief my heart bleeds.

            The evening song, sweet grief of a fallen in love dzhigit touched Kurumbai’s soul. Secret remembrances pressed his breast exiting and bothering: “Do you remember?.. Do you remember?..”

            …Ye-es… then Kurumbai was still very young. Besides he was a usual, by nothing noticeable ordinary aul happy-go-lucky fellow. It seemed that nobody took him seriously. To say the truth it troubled him not very much. But the fact that the youngest Baikubek’s wife started dig in heels frankly touched him. And not only this dirty callet turned her back on him but also mumbled something like: “Don’t you wish you may get it! A snotter but aims at being a boyfriend!” He wished to meet her now. He wondere what she would say. Most likely she would start wiggling her hips at once…

            Since that time if he had any free from labour minute he always thought about women. And he saw such sweet dreams at these minutes that he could not sleep night after night and tumbled in his bed. In Kurumbai’s imagination there was not more expensive and important thing in the world than women. Who owns a woman that one owns everything. Kurumbai thought so. When Shuman from his aul cried and grumbled at poorness and need, Kurumbai wondered and laughed thinking to himself: “He has a wife at home and he can sleep with her. What else does he want?..”

            When he became a policeman Kurumbai hoped in secret to put his wishes into practice. The women who had not noticed him up to now would surely take a great interest to him and he would be able not to catch the first one but choose to his taste. It already passed five months since the time when he did on a policeman uniform. He went around and shuttled for a good bit. In volost Kain there was left no one aul that he honoured with his visit. He even stayed purposely overnight in the houses where were good-looking girls or well-beseen pullets. However he was constantly unlucky. Something hindered him all the time. Either mother who was carefully watching her daughter did not get a wink of sleep, or an aunt led away her niece to the neighbours’. In short there always appeared hindrances for Kurumbai…

            With sadness Kurumbai thought about his constant fails in love and suddenly he raised his head and turned round.

-         You have said that we will arrive till the sundown, - he noticed with a stretch and a yawn. – It is afar enough…

            He fettled his baggy overcoat and tucked up the tails under his knees.

-         Actually it is not so far but do you see how slowly this damned wretch is dragging?! – And Kebekbai discontentedly kicked hurtfully the jade’s skinny gaskins. Poorness completely carried to the extreme. Earlier I would not even see at such a horse. Once I had a five-year-old chestnut heifer. Eh, what a cattle it was! It champed the bit and wrested the reigns!

            With the help of his pointer finger the aul nasybai winkled out from under the lip and flicked the brown chew and fletching up smiled to Kurumbai.

-         Don’t hurry. We will get. It seems that we have good luck today. No doubt we will be into luck…

 

II

-         Kulyashshan, pour in. I am so thirsty that I cannot drink fill at all. He was tired and out of breath after working in the cattle yard, now he ran with sweat because of drunk hot thick tea and harsh sweaty odour spread across the room. His wrinkled forehead and long sharp nose also perspired. Dark trickles dribbled over his beard and temples.

            Kulyash poured out the tea. Meruert, the host’s wife, was sitting between her husband and the daughter having spread out her legs in the sewn on tall boots from out which there stuck out foot wraps, she supped loudly from a bright cup with a brassy thin border. Perhaps she would like to show how much she cared about his husband and how much she was upset because of his tiredness. Having pulled stay strands of hair back under the shaulyk she began speaking:

-         Well, why are you, my poor darling, sweating guts out so much?! There was no good being afraid of costs. If you had hired some people they would have helped you.

            When Nurshan was out of spirit he was just angry with his wife’s words. Now the same thing happened. He cried:

-         You understand nothing, freaking woman! Why must we hire people? Three cows, one horse, two-three sheep – that is all our wealth. By summer all young stock will be cut for meat. And we sow so much that it is hardly enough for fine-chopped straw. Debts – those are more than enough. We have taken fifty rubbles from the bank and already the time comes to return them. And again, you are sitting here poor and bare-footed…

            Meruert went silent at once and drooped. Now first and foremost she would like to disperse bad spirit and anger of her husband. And she started repeating in his tune.

-         What can we do, darling? Do you think I don’t know about our business? I just pity you that is why I speak so. You are already fifty and more. What a worker are you already now? The God grudged, did not give us a son, I wish he would give us even some kind of a freak of nature and then would… I have said that girl-baggage, I say go and help the father to clean the barn but she only grins her teeth but does not move from her place. Is there anything shameful in the work? When you marry you won’t sit idly. There you, my darling, will have to run for wood and carry ash out…

            And she looked at her daughter with reproof.

            Their Kulyash grew up and was a minx and a tomboy. She was their only daughter and the parents made much of her, held dearly, fondled and shivered at her as at a son. That is why she grew up a shirker. Having grown up Kulyash pitied her father and even strove in her soul to help him keep the household but she was ashamed of women’s and girls’ gossip. Self-love and proud did not let her put hands to man tasks, she was afraid that people could start speaking: “Look, there the daughter of poor man Nurshan is rooting in a mess”. But all the same watching how her father was wearing himself out she restrained her pridefulness and assured herself that in vain she was afraid of people’ gossip but she was not able to put into practice her benevolent intentions. She did not feel equal to it. But she could cheer up artfully her parents and disperse their grief and troubles, make them laugh and jolly. It happened that her mother laughed loudly at her tricks and – satisfied – said:

 “Well, the apple of my eye, don’t work. I only wish you would be alive and healthy!”

            Sholdyayak barked loudly in its dog-hole. There heard some rustle behind the door. Somebody scratched the wall. People kept ear open in the house. For a while everybody forgot about the tea. Groaning and puffing Kurumbai dragging his long sabre and the gun like a sheep with a winder and behind him – Kebekbai dumpy like a stub forced their way into the clay-walled hut.

-         We wish your evening would be light!

            The hosts clearly felt alarm after seeing the sabre and the gun. Meruert was especially scared. Recently she heard that Sylkym’s daughter was caught in the same way and taken away with a policeman. Was not the same thing waiting for them?!

            A five-lined lamp hardly gleamed in the darkness and it was impossible to discern the guests. They could just guess vaguely that one of them was the chairman of the aul soviet.

            The guests went to the place of honour, sat down important and polite as if they were matchmakers who came to bring the bride.

-         Aul chairman, am I right? Alive and healthy?

-         Allah be thanked.

-         And this dzhigit – what is he?

-         He is a policeman from the volost.

-         Good luck! Where are you going from?

-         From Bereke’s aul. We are sent by volost’s executive committee. He says that in the lists the quantity of cattle is diminished. He sent us with a policeman to check everything again.

            As soon as they crossed the threshold Kurumbai could not tear himself away from Kulyash. At first his look dropped at her embroidered red taqiya – a round cap at her pale. Then he saw a straight white line – part. Her black hair was combed smoothly. After this he started admiring her clean wide forehead, black eyes, her nose, her mouth and chin. But most of all he was delighted exactly by her eyes.

            He seemed they smiled. Up to now Kurumbai had not seen such ones in his life. But could it be that he had already seen? He remembered that when he had made an overnight stop at Shupak’s his daughter had poured out tea. Hadn’t she had the same eyes? Oh, no! Her eyes were colourless and frozen like a dead fish has. Could they be compared with the eyes of this chamois!

            Kurumbai was unable to tear away his look from the girl. At first Kulyash also looked unnoticeable at him with curiosity. But having met with his bold mean look she became confused and even turned a little back going on to pour out tea and pretending that she did not even notice him.

            When it was just time to make the bed Meruert excused before the guests:

-         Our host is an old man. There is nobody to work in the house. We already cut our lambs and yeanlings in summer. In autumn we do not have anything to treat the guests…

-         Well… it is right… It is clear, - the clearly annoyed chairman of the aul soviet hardly moved his lips. 

 

III

-         Leave me alone!.. What’s up with you? – There heard angry Kulyash’s whisper.

            It was dark in the clay-walled hut. The window through which some gleam could hardly penetrate looked like a washy spot. All were sleeping deeply. Nurshan and Meruert were snoring habitually tumbling and fighting with lice. Kulyash was lying in the corner at the parents’ bed-head. She was also about to sink into sleep but woke up right at that moment. It seemed to her that somebody touched her breast with a hot hand. She became confused and drew the blanket to herself.

-         Don’t touch me!.. I beseech you…

            Kurumbai was sitting nearby on his haunches and shivering as if he had a fever. He rested with his left hand against the floor and with his right hand – carefully as if he was afraid to scratch – he touched the girl. But as soon as his hand just touched the blanket Kulyash shrank herself and pushed it away.

-         Well, it’s enough…

            Kurumbai’s heart sank. He was shivering…

            It was pitch-darkly in the hut. Stars peeped into the window. By their unstable light the stove appeared for a moment as if it swam out from the darkness. A bright cat dreaming carelessly into a ball at the stove woke up, mewed languidly and crept to Kurumbai. Having grazed carelessly the face of the bewildered dzhigit with its tail the cat was about to whip to the girl under the blanket but she threw it also away. The cat flopped softly to Kurumbai’s feet. The dzhigit smiled: “No way, poor fellow! She does not allow approaching even me.” However it turned out that the cat – unlike unlucky Kurumbai – was more persistent. It ran again to the girl’s bed, contrived and all the same whipped under the blanket. Kurumbai thought jealously: “Apyrmai, am I worse than a cat? Does she really think that I am less important than this creature?!” Because of these thoughts Kurumbai felt uncomfortable.  

            Thoughts – like a sea. Kurumbai was offended in his best feelings. “What does it mean? – He thought offendedly. – I am a policeman. I can say that the whole volost respects me. What to say about women – men do not dare to contradict me. The most powerful and disobedient ones – they also tremble before me. For example, Bykiriya from volost Kain was a king and a god in his clan up to the seventh degree. But when it turned out that he was mixed up in theft, then Kureke, it means me, himself caught him at once and drove him like a crummy goat. Is not I who am praised for honesty and frankness, promptitude in obeying and following all the laws? Didn’t I withstand entreaty and asks of different aul magnates, sharkers, bais and troublemakers? Isn’t my command satisfied with my work?.. Then… then why does this girl contradict me? Why does she show me her character?!”.

            Kurumbai wanted to be no longer master of indignation but something restrained him: “It is impossible to manage something with the help of anger and wrath, think a little, it would be good to move to pity and persuade her.

            He lay shyly on the edge, touched her pillow with his head and flushed up, froze, he even seemed that he was fusing, melting like a piece of ice in the sun.. “Oh, my God! – He  thought. – I would be happy so much if I could embrace, kiss, fondle her and clasp to breast this fine beauty in this dark room…” All his creature was caught and his will was paralyzed by this thoughts.

            Trying to calm down the beating of his heart, holding breath he whispered under his breath?

-         Perhaps you haven’t recognized me in darkness. I am…

-         Why not? I have!

-         But we are almost age mates with you. We…

-         And what does it mean? You have found what to brag.

-         I am not bragging… I just say: if we are age mates so it means, there is nothing shameful if we have a lark a little as effeirs the young ones…

-         But I don’t want…

-         No, perhaps you do not understand me. Do you think that I am an ordinary aul boor, a good-for-nothing? You are mistaken. I am on responsible service. I am not absolutely against the women equality. Contrariwise, I am fighting exactly for this… for the very equality. I would like to say… would like to say… - Kurumbai paused. He couldn’t remember what exactly he had wanted to say. To say the truth he did not even know enough what they were talking about at all.

-         Go to your place and sleep, - Kulyash said and turned towards the wall. – You are on responsible service. You have to get enough sleep.

            Is she laughing at me? “You are on responsible service…” Well, of course, she is joking. And if she is joking it means that it is not good to hang back, I have to act… Without saying anything else with some kind of despair he was about to embrace her but Kulyash having understood his intensions lifted sharply her hand. Kurumbai jerked his head like a sun-fisher; he received a blow exactly on his forehead. He momentary cooled down as if somebody bedashed him with some icy water, then he lopped down and shivering, being confused and ashamed crept backwards.

            It turned out that the aul chairman was not sleeping.

-         Well? – He asked. – Is it everything all right?

            Kurumbai pulling the blanket on his head answered with a sunken voice:

-         No… I didn’t have a chance.

 

IV

-         Say, Nureke, what cattle do you have? – The aul chairman began strictly in the morning.

            In the close clay-walled hut there gathered about ten people or so. Both a local bai Karim and a former judge Daut were also among them.

            Nurshan was delaying with the answer. Meruert who was listening to the conversation aside keeping her ears open did not withstand and hurried to help her husband.

-         Our aul chairman, our brother-in-law, why do you frighten our host? You know yourself what we have. One-two cows, one gelt horse… Why are you asking?

-         I am not asking at all and who and what has – I don’t know. I am also not going to check cattle yards. I will writhe down the facts that people will say me. And if you lie me – you have only yourselves to blame. If we check and your lie comes to light in this case your hidden cattle will be attached in behalf of the public purse.

-         It is right, of course. Am I hiding anything? You have already written down that pair of heads that I have. Than me to bother you’d better to give a good shake to Karim and Daut…

-         Bai-bai, Nurshan-ai, you are always stinging underhand, - the former judge offended. – What is it to you? Call your cattle!

-         What are you saying, brother-in-law? – Meruert broke on again. – We have nothing to call!

-         How can it be? What about sheep? Or are you keeping them for your funerals? Where do you spring from to hide the cattle from the public purse?!

-         And where do you spring from? Or don’t you have sheep?

-         I know by myself whom to say about my sheep.

-         But we also know by ourselves!

-         Stop speaking! Write down: Nurshan has two sheep and one goat.

-         Then write also down: bai Daut has fifteen sheep. Write him down as the first one! – Meruert raised her voice.

            The former judge went bug-eyed angrily.

            The aul chairman put in his list Nurshan’s two sheep and one goat. It seemed that he had forgotten about Daut’s fifteen sheep. It must be said that neither Nurshan nor Meruert could know exactly if he had written them down or not. They did not even ask about this: Daut was looking at them with angry gimlet gaze. They were afraid to bring disaster upon themselves…

 

V

            When Kurumbai was about to come back after settling up all his affairs he met Kulyash at the clay-walled hut. He did not know why but she was smiling. And he in spite on the fact that he was angry and roily after his night misfortune also smiled her in reply.

-         Perhaps you have had a grouch on me?

-         No, I haven’t.

-         Well, why are you revenging?

-         Why… revenging?

-         You do not notice the hundred of bai’s sheep but you have noticed our two ones at once. Is it fair? Does it do credit to a dzhigit? And this all without saying about call of duty…

            Kurumbai was confused. He flushed up very red. Only now he realized what a rock he had pulled.

            Leaving the aul Kurumbai turned back. Kulyash was going for water with two buckets and a yoke.

-         What a good girl she is! It is just pity that she is illiterate, - Kurumbai noticed looking after her.

 

***

            When there came a tax list from the volost the former judge Daut was also there. Opposite his surname there was written down “fifteen sheep” by somebody’s hand. Nurshan smiled being satisfied:

-         Never mind, you will pay with everybody…

            Kulyash pouring out tea remembered Kurumbai. She remembered how he had become suddenly confused before his departure, he flushed red up to ears and could not anything to say. The girl smiled to her thoughts and whispered low:

            - All the same he turned out to be a dzhigit! Good job!

 

 

 

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