The Mountain and the Wall

The Mountain and the Wall by Alisa Ganieva

Book: The Mountain and the Wall by Alisa Ganieva Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alisa Ganieva
to share with you, comrades! Our torments have ended! Recall how, not so long ago, we used to haul earth by the jugful to the terraces of our meager fields. Recall the desolation of the winter, when the snows closed us off from the world, and the shepherds descended to their winter pastures. Am I wrong?”
    “You’re right!” exclaimed the beautiful Raisa Petvrovna.
    “And now we can say good-bye to all that! The Kutan lands have already been prepared for us; we can be on the road by tomorrow.”
    “On the road where?” Old Kebed, leaning on his knotty cane, frowned.
    “To the plains!” the chairman exclaimed joyfully.
    “To the plains!” laughed Raisa Petrovna.
    But the hall was silent. The faces of the villagers expressed dull obstinacy, nothing more. Only cheerful Mukhtar stirred in his seat, and Marzhana gazed dreamily at the ceiling. Would they really go? Would it really come to pass that instead of the many-tiered stone village, blending into the surrounding mountainside, instead of narrow covered passageways and blind alleyways of stone, she would see broad streetslined with spacious brick houses with sharp-peaked roofs, and would breathe in the fresh fragrance of a new, free life? Would it really come to pass! How she had dreamed of this day! She gazed at Mukhtar with eyes aflame.
    “No, we cannot abandon our homes and our land,” answered Kebed.
    “We will not abandon them under any circumstances,” voices rose on all sides. Loudest of all was the voice of Ali, Nasyr’s red-bearded father. “You mean to destroy us! All the people who moved from here onto the plains died of malaria!”
    “Let Gadzhi Muradovich speak! Give Gadzhi Muradovich the floor!” begged Raisa Petrovna.
    At last the room fell silent and everyone looked at the bald chairman, who stood with his plump fingers pressed firmly onto the polished tabletop.
    “All of you, everyone here, has been duped,” he said sternly, swallowing the endings of his words. “Where did you get this unverified information? Instead of spreading panic among the people, you need to sort things out with the ringleaders, the slanderers and plotters. And you, Ali, don’t try to change the subject; we know that you still have rams that you have not turned in. Turn them over to the kolkhoz by tomorrow, or we will take them from you by force!”
    “But I was planning to invite you over and serve you those rams,” Ali objected, smirking, “at my son’s wedding. He’s marrying Osman’s daughter, Marzhana.”
    Everyone looked at Marzhana. The girl’s lips quivered, and she dashed out of the club. Raisa Petrovna rushed out after her.
    “Don’t run away, Marzhana! Don’t go!” shouted the young teacher. They ran until they could run no more; finally they stopped, breathless, at the spring.
    “ Akh, Raisa Petrovna!” exclaimed Marzhana, and she burst out sobbing on her teacher’s shoulder. The black and chestnut plaits intertwined like streams from two waterfalls.
    “I know that you love Mukhtar,” said Raisa Petrovna, stroking her student on the back. “You don’t have to marry Nasyr if you don’t want to.”
    “I don’t!” whispered Marzhana. “I’ll jump off the bridge before I marry him.”
    “Good for you,” Raisa Petrovna praised her. “I can see how disrespectfully the men here treat you; I can see how hard it is for you women in the mountains, how you have to haul water on your own backs. Don’t repeat poor Kalimat’s mistake; learn to stand up for yourself…”
    Shamil sighed, glanced again at his watch, and flipped to the last pages:
    The great bulging red sun rose on the horizon; the summer air filled with the chirping of birds. Marzhana leaned joyfully out of the window and gathered in the first hints of the new morning. Behind her now was her hard life in the dismal mountains; behind, too, crude Nasyr with his idle, insolent sneer; behind her now, the gossip of the village, the disapproval of her relatives. Ah, how shrilly

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