Bekir Ablayev - A BREATH OF FRESH AIR.
Updated: May 27, 2022
Today I would like to publish the second short story, written by the young Crimean Tatar author Bekir Ablayev. Enjoy your reading.
One day Nadir and I sat down to dinner. It was dark outside the window, the moon had risen. It was Wednesday, which means that I have a rehearsal at school and my younger brother has training. We were drinking tea when Grandpa Abdureshit got up from the table, going to watch TV "News". Suddenly he stopped and looked at my feet. Then he looked at me reproachfully. At first, I was surprised, then I looked at my feet and understood everything … A piece of bread was treacherously lying at my feet. How it got there, I do not know! The fact is that in our house bread has always been treated as a kind of shrine because our grandmother said that the dream of children in the first postwar years, was the desire to eat plain black bread. And here under my feet lay a white piece of wheat. "Raise the bread!" said the grandfather sternly. My brother and I were ashamed, we sat in silence at the table, afraid to raise our heads. Grandfather was very rarely angry with us. After a moment of silence, he continued: "I'll tell you about the famine now, and you think and draw conclusions," said the grandfather. "This story happened in the distant 30’s of the last century. The famine began in the country. Bread, flour and other products disappeared from the shops. People swelled and died in front of our eyes. The children suffered especially.
In Crimea, people also suffered from hunger, but the hardest was in Ukraine. In Ukraine and Russia. From Ukraine, many people, fleeing hunger, went to the Crimea. And several families came to our village Aq-Manay. Two families settled in our house: one in a temporary building, and the other, settled in a barn, converted into housing. He remembered his uncle Vanya Yevtushenko well. His family consisted of his wife and three little children. They spoke Ukrainian, and because we knew a little bit of Russian, we understood each other. We lived very well with them. At first, we helped them as much as we could, shared what we had. I remember how we helped fishermen to pull the net. In those hungry times, many residents of Aq-Manay survived thanks to fishing and fishermen paid us part of the catch for their work. I remember how Uncle Ivan and I went swimming, then walked along the beach and collected fish, which was thrown ashore by the wave.
So time passed, life was slowly getting better… Then the war started, and we went through several hungry years again. In 1943 I was taken prisoner in Austria. In the spring of 1944, I and several of my comrades managed to escape and join the Red Army, where I served until 1951". He learned about the Deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1945 only from letters from relatives.
"They wrote to me that when the soldiers came to our house, Uncle Vanya stood up for us and tried to explain to the military officers, that we were not guilty of anything. But he was threatened that he and his family, along with the Crimean Tatars, could also be deported from the Crimea, for resisting the authorities"
"I have found my family-" continued my grandfather Abdureshit, "- in 1951 after demobilization from the army in the Samarkand region, near the village of Juma, in the sovkhoz Ilyich, where a large part of the Aq-Manay inhabitants went. In addition to the Crimean Tatars, who accounted 90% of the sovkhoz, about 12-14 Russian families lived there (they were dispossessed and deported), four German families in the Volga region, four families of Meskhetian Turks and three Korean families, also came here during those difficult years. I must say that all of us, united by one misfortune, lived together". Among the Crimean Tatars there were many high-class specialists and thanks to special migrants, Ilyich, became one of the richest and leading sovkhoz in Uzbekistan. As time passed, most of the Aq-Manians moved to Juma, built houses, arranged weddings, gave birth to children, but did not forget for a moment about their homeland, about the Crimea. They believed that the time would come when they and their children would return to their native lands, to their native Aq-Manay.
In the early 1960s, Ivan Yevtushenko came to the city of Juma. The same one who, fleeing famine in the 1930s, found refuge and salvation in our home village. So many years have passed, and he has not forgotten the people of Aq-Manay, our family, he was looking for us and finally, found us! It is very difficult to describe the meeting with Uncle Ivan, it was so much fun, so much excitement! He told us that he still lives in the Crimea, that we are very much missing there, that Crimea without Crimean Tatars is not Crimea!
Former neighbors, relatives, fellow villagers gathered in our house all these days. They came to hear stories about the Motherland from the mouth of a man who lives there. For them it meant a lot, it was the first news from the Crimea, from their native Aq-Manay. It was truly a breath of fresh air for them. Ivan Nikolaevich lived in Juma for ten days and all these ten days he was the most welcome guest in the homes of Aq-Manay.
"And wherever he was visiting, he gratefully remembered your great-grandfather Abel, who saved his family from hunger in 1932 … The arrival of Uncle Ivan Yevtushenko in Juma inspired the people of Aq-Manay to fight for their return to their homeland. He went to the Crimea and we remembered him for a long time".
Grandfather Abdureshit, telling us this story, went to his room. And my brother and I discussed this story for a while.
- Listen, Bekir, because the descendants of Uncle Ivan probably still live in the Crimea, Nadir said suddenly: "Write about it!"
Yes, I thought it was worth writing about it, and not only about it! I will certainly write about the fact that we, the happy generation did not have to live through such terrible years, that we are proud to be born and live in the homeland of our ancestors, in the greatest corner of the globe - in the Crimea, and about what a wonderful grandfather Abdureshit we had!