Одна из причин пристрастия людей к порочному – безделье. Когда б он возделывал землю, занимался торговлей, разве мог бы он вести праздную жизнь?
Абай Кунанбаев

19 марта 2015 984

Maylin Beimbet «Eighty roubles»

Язык оригинала: Восемьдесят рублей

Автор оригинала: Maylin Beimbet

Автор перевода: not specified

Дата: 19 марта 2015

After his morning tea Egeubai decided to turn hand to clean and repair the cattle shed. The second half of November has already been passing but there has been still no snow. The ground was black and frozen. Cold winds were blowing, the real ones, “cara-daul” – “black windstorm” – that was their name there. Tattered clouds were running on the unkind sky. As soon as Egeubai - sweated and red because of hearty tea– entered the shed, he felt a cold wind felt on him - it was blowing from all cracks and he has dried and frozen to bones at once. Frowning he stood near the door, twisted a string of his quilted jacked fated to whiteness, then left the shed, took some steps and saw that the fence tumbled down. “I have to close this hole somehow.” he thought sadly, took the shovel and began shoveling that crumbly manure. A tailless gelding neighed easy in a box stall having heard shovel grinding. “You also want to eat, don’t you,” Egeubai grumbled, “but what can I give to you? I have nothing even to feed my children.” He climbed on the manure pile and began closing the hole. At that moment somebody came to him from behind and said:

“Assalaimagaleikum![1]

Egeubai jumped out of his skin and turned back fast.

“Alik salem... Аh, that’s you, Tnymbai? Haven’t you left? I haven’t seen you for two days.”

“I came back yesterday,” Tnymbai answered, “From the meeting.”

Egeubai got off the manure pile and perched on the shovel

“Eh, you came from the meeting, you say? So what’s there?

“Nothing special. They say that “Alash-Horde”[2] has called for collections...There were five or six delegates and among them there was one man, so imposing and menacing, he must be their leader…They have left to Naizaly today. They gave to the head of the volost an order to collect money urgently. But your ail is poor, what collections can be there? They decided that other auls have to take the rap. However, they still put eighty roubles for each home to give, so...”

“Eighty roubles!”

The shovel felt from Egeubai’s hands. Suddenly he felt shivering and black circles flew in his eyes. “Eighty roubles, oh my God, eighty roubles!...” he repeated almost meaningless.

Tnymbai worried in earnest and even took one step back. He could never imagine that such news could strike Egeubai so much.

Finally he mumbled

“Are there no rich men in our aul? Couldn’t they call for “bais’ collections”?”

“We have also thought about “bais’ collections” but the aulnai[3] refused stubbornly. He say that we aren’t so poor and can whip round. What could we do? We have agreed”.

“Apyrmai, ah!” Egeubai was walking back and forth along the yard.

“Eighty roubles! What on earth is that? Ah?!”

Tnymbai stood a while and then left. And Egeubai walked a while and went home too. His wife was patching some rot clothing. Having caught her look Egeubai said dispiritedly:

“It’s no tea time now! Better tell me where can we find eighty roubles?”

What eighty roubles?”

“The usual ones! The “Alash-Horde” called for collections, have you understood it?! So that’s for its costs...”

“What kind of horde?” his wife wondered.

“Don’t ask if you don’t know. Even I couldn’t understand everything clearly. But the one thing is clear: if the collection is called, shell out.”

“Poor we... unlucky we…” his wife cried.

Egeubai felt into grey thoughts. Lack was everywhere, his house was falling right in front of his eyes, and there was no ray of hope. Month ago when dzhigits of the “Alash” were seen off to the guard service, their aul collected five hundred for Korkemtai’s son and three thousand for Erkebai’s ambler. At that time each house had to give by eighty roubles too. Egeubai was at that meeting too and when he just mentioned that he was unable to plank down such sum, aul’s wits whispered to the Alash’s delegate who gathered dzhigits as if he, Egeubai, was Bolshevik. He was almost seized then. He borrowed eighty roubles and was happy. Then he had to give a heifer of a red cow. His wife has got this heifer last year as a ritual gift from their relatives. At that time he found the way to pay but where could he take those new eighty roubles? Aulnai was interesting about that charge every day too. Dress material that he was taken for his wife cost twenty roubles for arshin. He promised to give money back at autumn but he hasn’t done it yet. He was indebted to Eraly, the merchant, for tea – that debt was also hanging on his neck. They had to slaughter some cattle for winter. You couldn’t live without meat. There were only about eight puds left from those fifteen ones that he has bought last autumn. You couldn't left children without bread. There was empty and poor in his house... And then he had to plank down those eighty roubles for nothing. How not to despair there, how not to howl?!

“Heigh-ho.” a groan escaped from Egeubai’s chest.

“Delegates came to the aulnai!” That ominous news has fallen on the aul as a stone right in the evening and those eighty roubles began flickering before Egeubai’s eyes at once. He has even sweated. It seemed to him that those eighty roubles were his soul and that the delegate was Azrail, the death angel, who came for his soul. His heard began beating fast, went pitapat and he felt some hard lump in his throat. His wife was giving brewed flavoured tea but Egeubai has got only through one tea bowl somehow and without any delight. Then he picked at his milk noodle and went to bed. There was only one thought that was gnawing his brain: eighty roubles! Delegates! No matter how long he was thinking or racking his brain, he still couldn’t find any solution. You couldn’t fail to pay, but there is nothing to pay. Finally he decided to get up earlier in the morning, harness his gelding and went to his daughter-in-low's father to Samalyk. Of course he couldn’t get off anyhow but at least he had a chance not to come across delegates at first. Nothing cleverer couldn’t come into his head. In the morning when the day has only broken down, he woke up his wife, said her to make some tea for him and took the gelding to the well.

Aulnai’s son flew into their yard when Egeubai has just put a tea bowl with steaming tea in front of himself.

“Granddad, delegates are calling for you.”

“What for?”

“I don’t know…They said you not to delay...”

Egeubai dropped the tea bowl. He jumped, began fussing, flung his old patched fur coatty on his shoulders, put his legs into his rawhide boots and ran outside. His wife’s cry followed him:

“Where did you go without your hat, you, poor man? You have already ear pain. You can catch cold…”

Aulnai’s home. Three men in military uniform were at the head of the table. The black pockmarked dzhigit was putting on airs as if pointing out his superiority over other companions.

“Please, have a drink, here is butter, help yourselves, you must be so hungry,” the aulnai was treating diligently.

Egeubai burst into the house startling, greeted everyone confusedly. Then he took a sit near threshold and interested politely:

“Are you fine, aulnai?”

He only moved his lips in return.

“And this is,” aulnai said to guests a little later, “our old man Egeubai. He has to pay eighty roubles.”

“Eighty roubles” – it seemed to become a disease for Egeubai, he began fevering when he only heard those words.

“Now than, the old man, give the money,” the black pockmarked man said.

“Oh-bai, good man, I haven’t money!”

“What do you mean “I haven’t”? I don’t want to hear a word about it!”

“He seemed to be a sly dog,” one of guest mumbled.

“Money, you, old man, money!”, the black repeated.

“But my dear, I haven’t even a rusty kopek. Where am I to get them, from under the ground?”

“I see, you are against the “Alash-Horde”, aren’t you?"

“No, my dear, I am not, Allah save you!”

“We know you…You are the Egeubai whom we have almost arrested once. You have been looking askance at the “Alash” for a long time! Well, how much cattle do you have?”

“One horse and one cow with a calf... I don’t even know how to feed my little children...”

“We may take his horse and give back the rest, may we?” the aulnai proposed.

“That must be right,” the leader agreed. “Erzhan, go to this man’s house and bring his horse.”

A tall fair-faced dzhigit having with weapon hanging everywhere raised from his place:

“Let’s go, old man!”

Stumbling Egeubai dragged himself along home. The soldier followed him closely as if being afraid that the old man could escape. “And why has he been so angry with me?” Egeubai was thinking. Suddenly he remembered that during last voting he was among those who didn’t vote for the aulnai. And he seemed to revenge him then...

The tailless gelding was reined to the delegate.

“No!” the delegate said severely. “It is you who has to bring him!” Egeubai went and took the downcast gelding.

His wife who was staying near the gates and seeing as her husband was taking their gelding off the box stall was wiping tears with her fist and crying behind them:

“There was the only horse but the “Alash-Horde” has taken him too. Oh God, how would we live now, how would we li-i-ve? Oh-bai-ai!...”

1918


[1] Kind of greeting.

[2] Kazakh national organization.

[3] Aul headman.