The dark basement was full of hard sultriness – besides the pitch darkness, breathing was hard. Each inhalation from humid and mellow ground had stench of urine – apparently, many captives were imprisoned here before them. «This smell of blood, urine and excrements are eternally absorbed into the walls of this basement and will never disappear...» - he thought. His daughter nestled up to his shoulder embracing his arm – her heart was pulsating like a bird in a cage.
He was beaten within an inch of his life, in his daughter’s sight. Those rabbles even didn’t untie his hands but threw into the basement with undid ropes. His wrists were cut by wire. They did not touch Salbi but frightened her to death. She strained her voice due to feebleness and impossibility of helping her father. Two tall fighters were hardly holding her. She tossed trying to release – her buttons were torn and uncovered her breasts causing wild excitement of the cruel fighters surrounding them.
– I am a simple shepherd… I don’t bear any relation to this war... Let me go – my family worries!.. – but his entreaties did not impact on them; they kicked him more and stronger... – Only don’t touch my daughter, otherwise... – in this situation he worried only of his daughter.
– Otherwise – what? – a fighter having greasy beard stabbed him with the riffle butt. – Say, otherwise – what, son of bitch!?
“Otherwise I will gnaw you with my teeth despite of my tied hands. I will destroy you even if you are made of stone or tin, and will not leave your trace in the world!..” – these words he tried to pronounce at each kick got stuck in his mouth mixed with blood. When an innocent victim is being lynched blamed at murder this victim has to do nothing but become a murderer...
An officer came to the fighters and beating stopped. He came in «Niva» car – “I think, that’s their commander…” – he thought and wiping the blood off his lips looked at the officer with beseeching eyes.
– Kill me, but don’t touch my daughter... – he compassionately said and thought: “He is Armenian, but he is a man, maybe can understand…”
But the officer’s attention was entirely paid to his seventeen-year beautiful daughter. He came to her and poked his hand under her half-open shirt – the fighters meanly laughed. He softly pressed the girl’s breast and opening his trousers’ fly urinated on the bleeding face of her father lying on the floor, and ordered:
– Throw him into the basement but don’t touch the girl, leave her for me! – and went away.
«Rascals!» - he whispered wiping the face.
Dragging him like a sack of hay they brought him to the nearest casern and later his daughter also was brought there. They lifted the little hatch cover in the wooden floor of the casern they threw him into the basement head first. His shoulder was hit on the floor and he felt strong pains in the parts of beating. When Salbi was going down by wooden ladder a puny soldier embraced her back and going up by the ladder opened the hatch and grinned at her:
– I am second in the turn after the commander!
– Foul riffraff ! – Dilgam cursed behind him clenching his teeth.
“Damn me – what a fate I have? Why I tended a herd directly in front of the forest, near to Gizil-Gaya in this restless time? Why I didn’t think that they may appear from the forest and put the screws on us?”... – he tried to move his arm but the arm ached. Saying noithing Salbi undid the father’s hands. She had no words for consoling her father mutilated and profaned at her sights... The Armenian fighter put out his filthy dick at her presence and urinated on her father’s face... Her soul was full of hatred complitely drying her tears.
He was near to go mad of rage: «Undoubtedly, the girl will be raped... Damn me – I involved the child to this hell… Oh my God, don’t constrict me in conscience of honor! You are my last hope, release us from this cruel disgrace. Kill me, or made me blind or deaf – I don’t want to see my daughter’s disgrace nor hear her suffering!.. My dear child, you are not worthy of these torments, you are innocent!» He leaned his face against his daughter’s head and stroked her hairs, - Don’t worry, honey... – a lump appeared in his throat and his hand went down, – “How can she be calm? All soldiers will do violence to her – God bless her...” – he though wiping his bloody face with his jacket’s lap.
* * *
They were sitting in silence snuggling up to each other. They had a lot to tell each other – but the horror had already happened and both of them were aware of own fate. Neither words nor consolations had any significance…
A weak ray of light was flowing through the planks of the floor. There was strong beating in his head near to tear his ear-drums...
– What is your guilt? You brought food for your father... But we could not eat... How could we know that these monsters would appear so deep in the forest? Where were our soldiers, why they did not see them?
– We always tend our herd there, how could we know... – Salbi’s hoarse voice shaked his soul.
– We entered enemy’s trap with our own feet...
...When the narrow hatch of the floor opened, Salbi felt a chill in her soul – she embraced her father’s arm and snuggled up to his shoulder. The puny soldier was going down by the ladder.
- That’s time, the commander calls you! – the Armenian soldier said in broken Turkish language and pulled her hand.
– Daddy, please, forgive me, if you can!
She did not beseech for help – she clearly comprehended that her father is unable to help. She embraced her father, kissed his cheek smelling urine and wiping her tears went towards the ladder. Dilgam hardly stood up and embraced the daughter – he had a lot to tell her but no time. Salbi slowly lifted up and extended her hand to father: «Daddy!» He tried to catch her hand but his hand appeared in emptiness. The hatch closed – Dilgam was hardly keeping his tears. He sat on his knees and started to hit his chest and head with his fists. As soon as steps disappeared he lied on back and cried…
– Damn the day when my daughter was born!.. I was a simple shepherd not hurting even a fly – what was my guilt that you gave me these torments?! Oh God, I swear that you are absent! You are nonentity having neither honor nor conscience... Otherwise, you would leave aside all prayers and glorifications addressed to you and help me. If I had a son I would not care even if he is quartered at my sight – but this is a daughter, oh God, she is my honor and conscience! Now I need your help as never. You are unfair – it means we trusted in you in vain all of these years... These rascals will rape my daughter... If you are present, kill me with easy death!..
– Stinking Turkishman, it serves you right! – the soldiers had fun upstairs hearing his wails.
He stood up and lifting on the ladder tried to open the hatch with shoulder but couldn’t. Getting tired, he fell down...
– Oh my God, be so kind, rescue my daughter! I don’t need your patience after irreparable events… Kill me, kill my daughter but don’t let them to profane her – it is worse than death. A daughter is light of honor and conscience of each hearth – be gracious, don’t turn my light off! Let them to cut my hands, even my head, but do not expose me to profanation of my honor. This disgrace is longer than life, don’t expose me to disgrace, oh God! Be so kind, don’t keep silence! Show your power, don’t let them to profane my daughter… Don’t deprive me honor – a dishonest man cannot serve the God! Be powerful, extend your hand to me, prove your power! Be my friend – don’t let them to asperse your friend. Don’t disappoint me, oh God! Each man may have state of feebleness – release me from this state, I rely on you… – drawing soil he rubbed it into his face, pulled mouth and ears trying to not hear his daughter’s shouts…
– My daughter, my beautiful daughter!.. I called you with my mother’s name for your life’s being as long as hers… But now, there is neither name nor mother nor daughter – everything disappeared together with you. My poor child – you saw nothing in this life… I wished your happiness looking at you when you were roaming in mountain meadows like flying butterfly… You did not look like others – you were light of my eyes, meaning of my life… No, you were not – you are meaning of my life, daughter! I beg you, forgive your dishonest father unable to help own daughter! Damn the day when your mother bore you and I became your father! Probably, namely for this reason, Arabians bury newborn girls alive… A daughter is a huge burden, Salbi, my angel…
Walking in the basement Dilgam stumbled over a bucket full of water. He took the bucket and putting under the light ray tried to see own image but couldn’t. Then, he started to draw water and throw to face – he was crying imagining his daughter’s beautiful face. “Unhappy inhabitant of Khodjaly – you also were exposed to torments… My hair standed on end hearing the horrors happening to you – now, I feel this torture on my own back…”
– Mummy, the God has disowned us, leaving us without support, mummy... – he poked his head into the bucket up to ears and cried. Unless bucket is narrow and shallow, he would drown himself in it.
Dilgam was completely perplexed. Missing the thread of paternity and courage he left his life to the mercy of the bitter fate. Now he was a straw floating with river stream – and the only person able to catch this straw hoping in rescue was his daughter. He was ensured that the God had disowned him and, there is no sense to expect any help from the God. He looked at the water again trying to find mother...
* * *
His mother was famous fortuneteller in the district – she had studied her son a lot of secrets of reunion with the nature. Sometimes, in the way for own deal, she met unknown person on the face of which she read his bitter fate and, sadly returned home saying nothing to son. This gift of clairvoyance became a trouble for them and, as result, they were obliged to live far from people. Her son dwelled in mountains and became shepherd. They lived in marquees on plateau in spring and summer and, returned to the village only in the middle of autumn.
«When you dream something, - his mother admonished, - your thoughts have to be such for the God’s magic hand embodies their realization in your fate. Otherwise, the God would unexpectedly deprive you of everything written in your fate and substitute them with torments. Never think about things disagreeable for the God. The God has a spirit warming the entire Earth. If the God is satisfied with your dream and it complies with the God’s spirit this dream will be undoubtedly realized. A dream contradicting to the God’s spirit looks like a time rushing behind clock arrows – the arrows are running, the time lags behind and the dreams are left unrealized because they are wrong. The God is not obliged to stop and wait for you. Consequently, they say that a godsend you are running behindi s not yours yet and, you have to wait for your destiny. Run towards without stopping and your lagging destiny will reach you. A hear throbbing in hopes and dreams will always hurt. You have to follow after the God’s spirit. The world is terrible only for those considering is as terrible. But there is a way out – a man has to live as set, complying with the requirements of the time. We are afraid of losing everything we have; we are afraid that the God’s spirit may be disappointed with us because everything is in his hands. But when we dream with all our heart, the God treats to us gracefully. Listen to your soul, it knows everything better than you do...»
A couple of years ago he fell down from steep and ingured his leg. At that moment Dilgam was very startled of death. Bandaging his leg his mother said words hearing which Dilgam felt ashamed:
– Fear of being exposed to a torment is worse than the torment itself. The present world is proof of existence of the beyond. Siding with the God’s spirit you will ensure that all of it is true despite of the bitter trials caused by the God. The God will neither betray you nor strike an unexpected blow. Human spirit has particles of the spirits of earth, air, water and light – that’s why, a human being is sometimes light, sometimes cold and angry... The God’s spirit is generality of all of these features. The wind is whispering in the desert’s spirit in certain manner, in the forest’s spirit – in another manner, in the sea’s spirit – in third manner... If the God’s spirit is caught there will be neither storms nor tempests. If you confidently dare to implement any action the God’s spirit will be together with you... – she imparted the divine revelations to her son.
“Is it my fate?” – he was roaming holding his dislocated arm. – Are not you afraid of death, mum? – he loved the passion in his grey-haired mother’s eyes.
– I’m not afraid of death... I’m afraid of dying! – his mother proudly said.
Suddenly an alert sounded; this sound penetrated into his soul up to the marrow – in this moment he comprehended that honor and dignity is in the marrow. A loud tread was heard from the ceiling: «Maybe, our soldiers are there?» - he thought and raised his eyes toward the ceiling. «Oh my God, forgive me, forgive my blasphemy! Show your power, rescue us!» The treads became louder – the soildiers were hastily entering and leaving the casern clanking with their weapons. A bit later the hatch opened and the puny soldier holding Salbi’s hand let her going down till the middle of the ladder and, giving her a dish covered with foil closed the hatch. Before the hatch’s closing Dilgam felt that Salbi’s hairs were wet – she was dressed in a military uniform. His blood ran cold in his vessels – he closed his face with hands and hugging the wall fell onti his knees and cried.
Salbi came closer and put her hand on his shoulder:
- Daddy, don’t torment yourself, I’m fine! – she said. – They did nothing with me, they had no time. As soon as I left the bathroom the alert sounded and they hurrily brought me here. I think our soldiers have passed to the offensive. Maybe, they heard that we are taken prisoner and come to rescue us? – she embraced her father. What will be – will be, dad! Now we are quite helpless like a feather in the wind. Don’t torment yourself for me…
– They really did not touch you?.. – he leaned his face to his daughter’s one.
– No, I swear on the God!
A light ray was falling on his face through the narrow ching in the ceiling. “Oh my God, this light falling from you is powerful! Prove yourself, don’t leave me, you are graceful and fair! Nobody can touch my soul without your will. If you had written a dishonour on our fate, clean it by yourself, God! A ray of hope appeared in his soul. He lifted on ladder and pushed the door but it did not open. He embraced his daughter and lightly shook. «I suppose, these rivers are necessary for people’s seeing the fish an be glad of the life,» - he remembered his mother’s words. – “The God has thousand and one face, and he may be seen in any expression...» - he clearly heard his mother’s voice and felt that the God was closer, even over his head – as if, extending the hand, he can touch him and feel his breathing on own face. «The God is here, together with us, in this dark basement. He will rescue us from death… I saw his face on the puny Armenian soldier’s face – he was graceful while giving the dish. He was the God but not Armenian soldier».
– What is in the dish?.. – he whispered.
– Some meal, – Salbi opened the dish and tasted the meal. – I think it is a rice...
* * *
...There was a quite silence upstairs for a long time. – “Maybe, they are dead?” – there was a storm in his soul caused by fight between rest and worriness. He was afraid that the God expressing own presence near to him would leave him. He did not want the enemy’s return to the casern. They were hungry but did not touch the meal – only drank the stagnated water from the bucket waiting for own fate.
“She is cold!” – he embraced the daughter with the healthy arm and they continued to sit without saying a word. The pain in the shoulder gort stronger. Upon each movement he crincled his face, bit his lips and strongly clenched his teeth.
...The light in the casern was turned off, and he raised himself. His daughter took her head from his shoulder and listened. Her heartbeat intensified – shivering, she embraced her father’s arm. He felt touch of own hand to her soft bosom – “She has no bra!”. He suddenly comprehended that the God had left him in deep thoughts – he did not feel the God’s breathing any more. – “I beg you, don’t leave us here…” – in his thoughts he tried to block the God’s road. Suddenly he heard that somebody was being beaten upstairs. That unhappy man was shouting and cursing in Azerbaijani language – his voice muffled the dull noice of kicks. When these voices started to fill into casern the father and daughter snuggled up to each other.
That was an Azerbaijani soldier taken prisoner – he was in large uniform with white and green spots. Two soldiers dragged him towards the door. There were bleeding traces of beating on his large chest, neck and throat. They put him on the ladder and threw to the basement head first. He lost his consciousness – his legs stack the stairs and he suspended in the air. As soon as the door closed Dilgam dragged the soldier to the corner with help of his daughter. They moistened his face and saw that both of his ears are cut. «Damn you, rascals!» - he tore the lining of his jacket and, moistening it in the bucket pressed to his ears. Dilgam was splashing water on his face – this guy was the God’s personification for them: «This man is our sole hope in rescue, the God’s salvational hand.»
They were standing near to the wounded soldier. Everything became invisible in the darkness. There was not even the light ray flowing through the ceiling. «But the God’s spirit was here… But why his light turned into darkness? Maybe, he does not want to help us?» A soldier upstairs broke wind. «It means that it is night and everybody is sleeping»… He remembered his friend and smiled. «I wonder whether Islam understood that the shepherd has got into trouble seeing that the herd is without control?» Everytime, breaking wind in his presence without any shame Islam said: «Sorry, but what is natural is not shameful!» «He is dull – I think, now he is sitting and entertaining somebody with obscene poems. There’s nothing he likes better than making people laugh with obscene anecdotes and shameful poems. He will not guess that we have taken prisoner. I miss you, Islam! I miss your dull songs, foolish poems and obscene anecdotes… Oh my God, return me to those meadows, mountains and springs. Return with honour… Or, give me an easy death and escape me from this darkness”...
Dragging his feet over the floor he was looking for a thing to kill daughter and himself but found nothing suitable. He could not constrict daughter with own hands. He sat near to the guy and put his head on own knee: «I wish this guy to come to consciousness and kill us – anyway, he is fighter and surely, braver than me…» As if hearing his words the guy moved. Dilgam touched his face:
– Did you come to yourself at last? How do you feel? – he held his neck and leaning him to the wall helped to sit.
– Where we are..? – the guy asked blindly touching his face, – Who are you?
– I am also Azerbaijanian, taken prisoner together with my daughter – we are here since the morning… We are in the basement of casern. Speak quiet, soldiers sleep upstaris.
– Where is your daughter? – he whispered.
– She is in that corner… Salbi, come here... We will whisper for not awaking those rascals... – he seized daughter’s hand and pulled her down.
– Who are you? How you were taken prisoner? – he asked checking the bandage on the soldier’s ears.
– I am a sniper. I was hunting for Vado but myself became his sacrifice... Sometime I wounded his shoulder but he survived, damn him! This time he was prompter than me. He shot me in shin and prevented from running. I had not time even for killing myself – took my dagger. I know him from Voronej – we used to serve together in the landing troops of special destination. He is a contract fighter hired by Armenians. Armenians fear him like death. He had killed one of our general officers. Son of bitch, he is very skillful sniper. I lost this game... – he moaned sitting comfortable. He was a healthy and strong guy.
– This war will be win by the party supported by Russia. Russia does not care to which party the lands belong and behaves according to own benefit. But the justice will triumph upon the God’s will. The God is powerful and we have to rely on him... – Dilgam said amazing own ability to console other person.
– It is foolish to rely on the God in such situations… How old are you?
– I’m forty-eight and my daughter is seventeen…
– They tortured you, didn’t they? – the guy was gradually coming to consciousness and speaking more confidently.
– I am hardly beaten and my shoulder got dislocated when they threw me into the basement.
– Come closer… – he took Dilgam’s wrist. – Is this arm?
– Yes, it is… What do you want to do?..
– It will be painful now – be patient... – the soldier softly touched his shoulder and clavicle and suddenly pulling his arm put it into place. The bone crunched – darkness appeared at his sight due to pain. Dilgam roamed a long holding his elbow.
– Drink it! – Salbi said extending water to him in her palms. The water had taste of blood.
– Does your arm hurt yet? – the guy’s restraint created confidence in him.
– Now it is better but aches a bit, – he carefully moved his arm. – How do you think, what they will do with us? – he asked hoping in reassuring answer.
– As the sun rises, they will shoot both of us… Your daughter may survive, - it was very cruel words for Dilgam, – She will be raped… – his wound ached and moaning he bended. – How were you taken prisoner?
– They imperceptibly reached the pasture where I always graze cattle. I am a shepherd. Firstly I thought that they are our soldiers. They led us through forest, then put into car and brought here.
– Damn them! What will be – will be, the fate is unavoidable!
– I wouldn’t care unless my daughter was here… She restricts my actions... Do you understand me?..
– I do... Only the God knows what these rascals will do with us tomorrow. It is our fate... We are taught that there is only the present and a clever person has to live only with the present time. The life consists only of a moment in which you live – you may not to see the next moment. If you survive till tomorrow, today will be only memory for you.
– I wonder, what time is it – morning, or evening? It is strange that as time till death is shorter as more a man hurries towards it...
“I wish to die and escape from these torments!” – that were his friend Islam’s words. He looked at the soldier in the darkness trying to see a light of hope on his face. But this trial was looking like search of own fate in the God’s spirit. Seeing nothing he directed his sights towards the floor – “Nothing is visible in this darkness expect the death. Devil, I wish the morning does not come”... – the thought filling his comprehension caused remorse. Fortunately, his reddening face was invisible in the darkness. Diamond cut diamond – as if, the God had damned him exposing to trials with love to his daughter and, he was inflexible in this intention...
* * *
Now he had only to rely on his mother’s exhortation: «Each person has a person waiting for him. But there is a thing waiting for each person: it is the Death. When you meet the Death it notifies with own sight that it needs namely you. Hereby, the past and the future loses own significance – a man lives with this moment and since this moment the Death unveils all of the God’s secrets to him, teaches the divine language to him and pulling down a dark curtain onto his eyes shows how the God loves him. The Death entirely retrieves your spirit from your body but you feel that you may live some seconds more. These seconds look like the eternity and, these last breathes become more valuable than the passed life and namely in this moment a man comprehends the real value of the life. A man comprehends that our life itself only is a moment before endlessness. The death rest is very important. Dying is quite easier than waiting for the death – the death eternally escapes you from this torment and you willingly surrender to the death…»
...But now he did not need the divine light any more – he considered the God as feeble and helpless. His fate was contiguous to his mather’s one long since; and now, in order to soothe the storm in his soul before the death he needed to take the decision undertaken by him: «Most probably, the seconds in the heaven run headlong after the clock arrows…» Now he had to cope with the heaviness of honour destroying his soul for easily closing his eyes at the end of his life. He had only to persuade this earless soldier: « I must convince him…» Holding the aching arm he sat at the opposite corner.
– If a man knows about the death beforehand, he would not be born in the world. A man strive for tomorrow for being ready for further inevitability. We would have neither future nor the life itself if we knew what is expected us tomorrow. A man has not be surprised with the events of tomorrow – also has not be sad of expected grieves because a human being is unable to change the inevitability... Dying tomorrow better than dying today. Daily life is needed for preparing to death. It is a law of the life, - as if, the spirit of the dark basement was speaking. The Dilgam’s spirit read his fate from his face:
– Overcoming the bitterness of the death needs restriction of all feelings of love and subordinate them to himself. All loved people turn into intolerable burden on the deathbed. A person with whom you have overcome a long way suddenly falls down and leaves you on the halfway... There are also people reaching you and leaving behind, indefatigably calling you following him, you vainly cry after them, but they don’t stop and disappear – you even have no time to fall down. I love my daughter very much. But only the God knows what will happen to us tomorrow... I even cannot imagine how my daughter will be raped at my sight... Maybe, I would not be tortured if her virginity would be deprived by any our compatriot… - the darkness pressed the spirit of the basement.
– Somebody needs existence of innocent people in the guilty world. I hear the God quietly moaning in this darkness. He has already taken decision «A human being is a child of fight. You should survive your fate,» - he tells me. All of my life has passed in mountains, forests and deserts – particles of each of them live inside me. I know the language of the nature, that’s why my soul is glad in forest, on spring and on bank of river – as if, it acquires wings and fly. But today my soul looks like a forest burnt to ashes… We both are created by the same spirit, that’s why you have to understand my wishes, daughter… The difference between us is only that you are born by the God’s female spirit…
– Daddy! – Salby cried and stood up at the opposite corner but did not pass to her father feeling shy.
– I learned loving you in this world. Only the God knows what is expecting us in the beyond and what will be taught there... But as the separation moment is closer as clearer I see the God. I know that he will take you from me tomorrow...
– Are you raving, dad?! – Salbi’s voice trembled. Dilgam continued speaking monotonously like stuck plate:
– Unless the death exists a human being would treat to life quite negligently and perfunctorily... The God’s visible face is the real life and the invisible one is the beyond. Dying we join to the world’s spirit. The winds and seas are created by the same Spirit, full of the same love, split their grace and exhausting, disappear...
The soldier was amazed by the Dilgam’s words:
– If you are alive, it means that the time of death has not come yet. Let us to choose, at least, our death at own discretion. It is not a time for death lamentations!..
«Poor guy – he knows nothing except military laws,» – Dilgam heaved a sigh.
– Both of you will leave this world not living properly... Do you remember, daughter, once I said to you: «Look at the sun… Don’t tear your eyes away, look attentively… Now look at me. Do you see me?» «No, everything went dark before my eyes, as if I’m blind!» - you answered. A man always running after light sometimes loses sight and returns blind. Now attentively look at this darkness… and now look at me. Do you see me? No, you do not. But the God always sees and hears us. It means that we don’t need to look for anything but only to live in the life gifted to us. A man looking for you will find you by himself…
– Are you a shepherd or a philosopher? A man has to keep silence on the deathbed but you wag your tongue... It is not the time! «The God’s spirit, human fate, the whisper of forest…» – the soldier impatiently muttered.
– The God is expression of our actions – everything what we do is expressed on ourselfes. Probably, my “shepherd’s level” does not allow me see the God in this dark cellar – but looking attentively we may see him even in this darkness. Maybe, he is whispering the way of rescue but we cannot hear him... My mother said: «I am not afraid of death – I am afraid of dying. You will not die from snake’s poison unless the snake bites you – the snake’s sights will not poison you.» The death is alien for us until we feel it. It may be thought that you are not afraid of feeling it, of the death?.. Even the Angel of Death is afraid of the death, guy…
– You are not a shepherd but a veritable religious adviser. I think, philosophizing is in your blood... - Dilgam felt that the soldier was laughing.
It was necessary to express own intention by hook or by crook and, convince the sniper and daughter.
– A man the soul of which is trembling in worriness cannot see the God – as a man cannot see own expression in wavy water. Try not to wrangle with him, nor play with brief time. I asked the death from him, for myself and my daughter. But he sent you… The time of fear has passed – the time of hope has come. Hope not to survice but to die honourably. What may happen has already happened… Before I was afraid of its happening; but now, when it happened, I’m afraid of nothing… Both of us will die – but I’m afraid ofd Salbi’s surviving. Even if she survives I don’t want her to become pregnant from Armenian. She has not to bear Armenian’s child. If pregnancy is her destiny let her be inseminated by Azerbaijanian man… - he excitedly vented the words he tried to say a long ago and calmed.
– Daddy!.. – Salbi hiccuped. A dead silence occured in the darkness. As if, none of them breathed. Couple of minutes later Dilgam heard coming steps. The sniper sat in front of him and holding his cheeks leaned own forehead to his one:
– If I understood you properly, you want me to do sex with your daughter?
Dilgam nodded confirming his words:
– It is most difficult to sustain the first disgrace – it will be quite easier to stand the further ones… - he whispered.
– Are you joking? It is worse that murder, pick of inhumanity! I have a fiancée. Besides, why are you sure that your daughter will agree with it? The God whom you note so often expresses own opinion finally – and it is not a fact that your decision is beneficial for us and the God… - he stood up and passed to own corner, - or you think that it is so easy for me?
– You put me instead of your father, instead of Salbi – your sister, or your fiancee... please, understand me... I am sure that we will die. The spirit of the death is already flying over us... Don’t be afraid of the things amazing you, guy – the God had created a lot of things amazing a man… This world is created for amazing the people – the God also loves it and sometimes he makes fun of us… You have to do it – even for spite the God. You are the God’s spirit for me. My daughter is my fate. The God has gifted you to my destiny and covered it with the veil of the death. In the early morning, he will unveil it for us to see what we want. Otherwise, I will torture together with him…
– But how may you want it, dad?! You may comprehend me only within the frames of my age, and the rest things are only your assumptions... – Salbi was ready to shout but the fear of awaking the sleeping soldiers restricted her.
– A thirsty tree in desert hopes in the morning’s dew. But what we may hope in, darling? This dark night will not bring us to a light day. I cannot bear these rascals’ outraging you – my spirit cannot stand it. The God has sent this guy with an ulterior motive... – he turned towards the wall and covered his head with torn jacket. – This decision is the only light ray of hope gifted to us in this darkness... If somebody dares to reproach us with it and call us mean and dishonest they themselves are the biggest dishonest rascals. I did not grow my angel for purpose of giving her to foul hands of Armenian soldiers... – he wanted everybody to know that he covered his head. – If you survive and bear a child yo will be consoled by the thought that your child is from our brave compatriot but not an Armenian rascal...
* * *
There was set a silence of immense, frozen sea. As if, the arrows of clock stopped forever. The time left behind these arrows, and the destiny passed from today to tomorrow. There were heard the creek of iron beds – this creek broke the icy crust of the frozen sea shaking the deep waters. Dilgam remembered his friend Islam. Islam’s singing sounded like echo through deserts and reached the darkness of the basement fondling Dilgam’s soul. He was enjoying the chill penetrating into his marrow looking at own uncared-for herd and feeling the endearment of the blowing wind.
He felt that Salbi is slowly slipping towards the sniper – the tears appearing in his eyes rolled on his cheeks and fell down to the ground covered with darkness...
He strengthened his mother’s whisper in own ears for not hearing the sounds around. «The death completing the life of rotten tree is graceful. The daughter’s burden is insufferable. A man taking care of honour of daughter, mother, sister and wife dies and gets born several times a day. Dying as slave of honour is the most horrible death. I remember as my father said: «If I did not know the parable that Saint Mary got pregnant with Jesus from the God, I would personally constrict my son-in-law.» When the Gods deprives us of our natives we get angry and offend. We must accept everything as the God’s gift and the destiny prescribed by him. Everything we lose in this world we will acquire in the beyond…»
* * *
...The creak of iron beds got louder – the awaking soldiers were running of necessity. «I think it is morning…» - Dilgam whispered. The soldier at the opposite corner moved. Salbi was silently sitting at own corner…
The awaking soldiers were noisily laughing. The key was twisted in the door and suddenly Dilgam started – the sniper embraced him:
– Forgive me, dad, please! Bless me, if you can… I wish I had such a father-in-law like you – it will be honour for me to become your son! – wiping the tears he returned to his place. The door opened. Seeing Salbi nestling up to the sniper Dilgam settled down.
– Get out! – that was the puny Armenian soldier. – «It means he deals here only with guarding the captives.» – Dilgam lifted on ladder without hesitation. The weak light of casern blinded him. Sniper and Salbi were absent – they were whispering downstairs. The Armenian soldier bended down and cried:
- Get out – I said!
Holding Salbi’s arm the sniper helped her to lift and Dilgam could see his face – he was a swarthy guy with curled hairs. The cut ears made him ugly but his healthy body as if made of marble granted a special charm. Four soldiers pushed him out. The sun was blinding them and they closed eyes with hands. The soldiers brought them to the middle of the casern and started to look at them like at zoo. Several minutes later a vehicle with open roof came – there was a man in the rear seat holding a long rifle.
– Son of bitch!.. That’s Vado – Volodya Krasilnikov... – the sniper whispered.
Looking at nobody and keeping silence Vado fastly reached them and leaned the rifle against the wall. He passed behind the sniper and holding his hairs pulled his head up and taking self-made sharp dagger from bootleg and placed the blade to his throat:
- Pray in the end, Gamlo! – he said in Russian.
The sniper prayed whispering.
– Did you finish!? – Vado asked irritatedly.
– My name is Gabil, I am Gamlo, enemy of Armenians! We’ll see in the beyond... – he said and nodding, expressed readiness to die. Vado passed the dagger over his throat once and released. Dilgam was srtaying between Gabil and daughter and saw this scene with edge of eye. Vado wiped his hand over the rifle:
– Bury him honorously! – he said and sitting on the car went away.
Gabil stayed leaning against the wall. His blood was gushing from his throat to Dilgam. His wheeze gradually stopped, knees bowed and he fell down on his back. Salbi covered own mouth with hand and was trembling with fear.
One of the soldiers took the gun and came closer to Dilgam.
– Look at the sun… - Dilgam said to daughter. – Don’t tear your eyes away, look attentively… Don't look at me. Do you see me in the stain of the sun?
– Everything went dark before my eyes, as if I’m blind! But I see something… - Salbi’s trembling voice was purling in his comprehension. Looking at the sun he saw as his bitter fate passing through bullet hole joins to the stain of the sun and, firmly holding the wall he enjoyed soothing of his soul…