The Black Clouds
Müəllif: Rəşid Bərgüşadlı


He had trudged through tangles and trailed in steeps for two days scratching his face and extremities into blood. The sun was near to setting and he was not able to overcome the plumb rocks. He had hunger collywobles in his stomach. “Tomorrow I will easily reach the troops…” – he entered a familiar cave with these thoughts and emptying the pockets full of mushrooms picked on the road burnt a flame. He took from the internal pocket a flat bottle of moonshine and swallowed – it removed the fatigue and helped him to rid himself of remorse. He felt stick in his mouth – “As is, I have drunk of bile and smell like lathery horse…» His tousled beard hid all light lines on his face making him more terrible. His large shoulders and brawny arms proved him as a strong person. He almost had no neck – as though, his head was stuck into shoulders. His old and narrow dress fitted close to his body – under it he had military officer’s shirt. Although he avoided twists and turns of war, he was accustomed to the smell of blood and death – he was bright, fearless and volitional like a real fighter. “I could become a good fighter,” – he was sure in it and sometimes expressed this thought loudly watching the fighting troops.
Besides everything, the war is ugly also because of the fact that pillagers not wasting the time pillage the dead fighters. When the fights get calm, the Sun illuminates the naked corpses – it is qiute common phenomenon. The most of people think that this action is done by the winner figthers. But they are wrong because the day-time heroes cannot turn into night hyenas. This action is done by pillagers wearing military dress and hang around the attacking troops and, some of them do it with entire family in horse carts. He also was fed by the war – he also wandered following the troops like dark shadow and emtied the dead fighters’ pockets. He often sold the robbed things to fighters. His accomplices robbed in dream even own fellow travellers. But he was more compassionate and never robbed the wounded fighters thinking that it would moderate his sins. He never took the dead figthers’ dress but emptied only their pockets. But the pillagers following him stripped the dead fighters naked. “Thy say that there is a lame necrophiliac pillager among them raping the dead people.” Once, checking the laying fighter’s pockets he saw that the fighter is alive but his leg is torn off and suspended on the skin. Sitting close he started to frankly speak to the fighter consoling him. The fighter asked him to cut his leg off and bury it. He implicitly fulfilled the fighter’s request; coming to consciousness in the evening the fighter cheerfully said that his leg called him to the beyond. At that moment he tried to think about the world above but immediately shook his hand thinking «That’s load of rubbish!» The fighter died in the night and, taking the fighters ring off his finger, he put into sack.
The fighters didn’t think about them in the heat of the battle. However, if the fighter caught any of them they unreservedly killed them. Once he always was near to death – however, he could save his life saying that he was carrying the army’s battle to the troops and furthermore, tearfully implored a little reward from officer. Coming back, he emptied his killed accomplices’ pockets ad collected a lot of money and valuables.
He hated retreating troops. “Troops should either self-destruct or destroy the enemies!" Rivers of blood, ditches full of human corpses, mothers’ tears – all of these notions were nonsensical rot in his comprehension. Both the victory and defeat also were considered by him as nonsense – he was interested only in trophies. The days when he succeeded to collect rich trophies he could neither sleep in nights nor eat for sake of protecting the robbed values from pillagers but it didn’t weaken him. He willingly studied information about bloody wars and was mostly amazed by the fight of Waterloo: «It was a real war... One hundred and forty-four thousand fighters, sixty thousand corpses... I wish I lived in the epoch of Napoleon, Macedonian Alexander, Julius Caesar...» - he thought.
He fired the mushrooms on the flame, swallowed moonshine and lied down crossing his hands under head. «I'll leave before sunrise – I should reach the troops near the morning.» His armpits had fetıd smell. He remembered his family and old mother he left in jurt. Each time of his returning from trip his wife did not want allow him to approach her for a week. Looking at himself with his wife’s eyes he was reconciled with own ugliness. His wife was a pert woman; however, she was dreaded him like a plague. But he lived his wife and always said to her: «It is impossible to find such provident woman like you all over the world». But sometimes awaking in the morning after boisterous drunk night he discovered that before going to bed he had put a bruise under his wife’s eye and hit her back with whip. He returned home very tired after long-time robbery and deeply slept for two days. While initiating the last two children he lied in her bed without saying any word. His wife did not want to sleep with him for two reasons: her husband’s mouth smelled very bad, and he was raving and shouting in dream. Once he was close to the moment of entering the military powers as a fighter; however, sitting in a mat armchair he thought about this idea and told his wife: «A fervent heroism is not for a clever person! A man is unhappy behaving as knight in nights and squirm of dagger wound in daytimes. It is a funny heroism!» But preaching is a profitable deal. He had a passion for this profession and his mother also agreed with it. Besides, the wounded fighters asked him to pray for them before death. But his wife did not agree: «The people silently listen to sermons about necessity of helping each other. Knocking nonsense into people’s head does not suit a man. Such a taciturn person like you never can become a preacher.» He agreed with his wife’s these words – people’s souls would scarcely palpitate due to his sermons. «I don’t know why but inveterate believers always speak blasphemously. I have never seen any priest or mullah dying…» - he said these words about his pious father-in-law teasing the wife. Hearing the wife’s words about himself like “You are a conceited swine!” he slapped her fleshy buttocks.
... He started from own snoring. He felt a drop of sweat flowing from armpit down on side. He dreamt that a devil was riding him pulling his bridle as hard as could. He deserted the fight but was glad to it because he was exposed to strong firing and the bullets riddled the devil. Remembering the devil’s state he smiled: «Not everybody can destroy devil and remain safe and sound».
– Those rabbles will outstrip me. I hope they will postpone burial the corpses... – he thought sheathing the dagger. Dealing with dead fighters he had never killed anybody, but just in case, always carried a dagger. “I wonder whether the troops had moved far... Oh my God, help me, do not leave me with nothing!» He left the cave and started on a journey through sinuous path.
When the Sun appeared behind the horizon he accelerated his steps: «I have to reach before those moles had undressed the corpses…» Suddenly he heard tread of horse's hoofs and immediately hid behind a hornbeam. “Probably, that is a deserter… Or a fighter haunting the pillagers…” He carefully looked to the side where the tread was heard, and saw a horse with saddle and bridle having slipped down. Nobody was riding the horse. He showed himself to the animal trying to calm it. The horse was afraid but seemed as needing him – snorted and stopped. «A horse needs an owner. It does not matter who rides it – the owner has to feed and water it opportunely, and treat with compassion». He stroked the horse’s mane: “My first trophy is successful. Now I can load you with sacks of trophies as more as I want.».
Taking breath, he turned the horse back. Suddenly cannon shots were heard behind the mountains. He got taken aback due to anxiety and unexpectedness. “Killing people is very easy for a gunner – he only ignites the fuse and all other events happen themselves. But killing a person with spear or sword is a real torment…» – now his brain was working more rapid, and he urged the horse more strongly. Suddenly a hare appeared in front of him and as if not seeing the horse ran towards it. “A poor animal, he is afraid – probably, thinks that the troops is hunting it. His form should be destroyed under the legs of troops and children are dead». The horse started hearing a noise and it attracted his attention. He heard a groan behind the raspberry bush and, tying the horse to tree, he rushed towards the bushes. The horse’s owner was lying on the earth. Provided to be, the horse had dragged the owner for a long time and his leg got stuck in stirrups. There was an arrow stuck in his chest. The wounded fighter was wheezing choking own blood. He had blond hair and light face. The pain tormented him and insulted his fighter’s pride not allowing die. The fighter was asking for quarter with his eyes. “He needs a prayer,” – he felt sorry for the fighter. He regretted not knowing any prayer. «A prayer consoles a man and facilitates his death – I wish I knew a couple of prayers!» He bowed towards the wounded fighter – the latter was trying to spit out the blood collected in his mouth. This spittle was his last word, his last answer to this world. He took the arrow from the fighter’s chest; his wheeze increased and he sighed swallowing the air like a cool water. “I wish the beyonds were not a legend – I wish the dead people continued living there”. Searching the corpse he found some money and the fighter’s picture with a young girl. He looked at the fighter on the picture and the corpse: «He is smarter without uniform. Probably, that is his fiancée or wife…» He closed the corpse’s eyelids. «He looks very sad like a person feeling pangs of conscience…» He put the money into pocket and stood up leaving picture on the corpse’s chest. The fighter’s lifeless face had a frozen question specific for all corpses: «But I was alive short ago…»
...Getting down of the hill he appeared in the dust raised from under the legs of the fighting troops. He stopped the horse and took it to the secluded nook. He was interested only in the corpses of dead fighters. The fighters’ abuses split around like spangles of flame. The congealing corpses were warmed by the sun from above and the earth from below. “Fighting in heat is a wild torment but a war in snow and frost looks like children’s game.» He rode towards the dark shadow of the rock. «Nobody can see me here!» He took bottle from his pocket and emptied it: «I drink for the heroes dying in this mountain. They roar – even mother cannot recognize them. I am sorry for you! I am sorry for your parents growing you!».
A part of the troops retreated. “Now the black powers will leave the battlefield!” He was looking forward a moment for searching the pockets of the bloody corpses. The wounded fighters were groaning. «I wonder, how many heroes will not see the moon this night? » The moonshine pestered his soul and softened his heart, and he felt pity for the fighters lying on the earth. His deal was profitable but risky; however, sometimes he dreamt that he pillages in people’s sight and, he started at this moment and cannot come to consciousness the full day. He drank as more as could for getting rid of pangs of conscience; however, alcohol sometimes disserviced him. His dead father had fostered hate to religion to him. But sometimes he had impact of his mother’s sights full of fear of the God. When he extended his hands towards the God his father’s hatred crossed his way. He needed only consolation from the God. The eyes of dying person made him anxious. “Once I also will feel this torment. Yeah, the God does not need my prayers but I should deal with religion – at least, theb god is fair...” – the god was waiting in his weak-willed soul for a long time and at last left it.
Hearing the horse’s snort he turned back. The animal was afraid of appearing in the battlefield again. «Don’t worry, henceforth neither spear nor sword will wound you. A war is a triumph of evil but I will not allow you becoming victim of this triumph, - he said stroking the horse’s mane. – The evil exists as long as evildoers live and, the wars last longer than the evildoers’ life. That is, they started!» - he turned back hearing the joyful voices of attacking troops. The white powers were following the black ones.
– My sin is nothing in comparison with the war’s barbarity! The God created me when wanted and will kill me when wants. I am not an idiot for poisoning my life nehind the curtain of prohibitions. I do not bury the corpses – I am not entitled. I rob them – if this action has some trace of sin it is reverses of fortune and one of the simplest sins in this perishable world. As nobody needs me except my family, it is not bad to live for the sake of my family. Everybody should take care of himself… Destroying the evil and dying together with is a senseless deal. – stretching the saddle and stirrup he sat on the horse and raies his head for seeing the god. But he saw only the carrion-crows flying in the sky.
– Come down, my colleagues… Flesh is yours and values are mine. I am an innocent culprit like you!
He rode following the troops towards the dead fighters becoming victims of unintelligible ideals…

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