At the age of nineteen my grandfather was meant to marry the most beautiful girl in the aul. They were engaged, and the wedding day has been appointed. But a week before the wedding the beauty has disappeared. She has run away, or rather was led away. It was an ordinary event for that time. Abduction wasn't a blood-thirsty ceremony, but the usual lifetime trick often organized with a consent of parents in different delicate cases, or if the groom was too poor to get rid of bride price. It was the most terrible shame you can imagine.
The shamed groom has left the aul and returned only a year later. He was not alone, he returned with the new bride. She was an orphan and cripple, and furthermore she was halfblind (years later she has became absolutely blind). "Here" - said grandfather to his father, - "She won't run away. I've chosen the ugliest girl in whole neighborhood". And she didn't. It would take quite a while to describe their life. A bitter tale. In the 21th while the hunger she buried her five sons. Also she lost her husband during the war. The grandmother has lived with us. I was her guide, I was leading her to her old friends or to the shop. I've always been with her. She used to say, "Be happy, son. It wasn't me who you led today, it was yourself wondering your life". This intricate formula which sounds very harmonic in Bashkir like a certain spell I usually remembered in the minutes of blindness, when I was walking on the razor's edge, and every time I entered a new life.
I don't know why the grandfather thought she was ugly. How many legends she sung to me (not told -- sung), how many songs!
The grandmother had a passion, if only it could be named like this. She asked me to bring her pebbles from the river. Each one she kept for a couple of months, she read long prayers shaking it in her hand rhythmically. A thousand prayers for each pebble. It shined in her hands. By the end of her life there were a whole box of pebbles - shiny, with different pattern. "Cover my grave with them" - she used to say. Absorbed the heat of her hands and long prayers, they should keep her rest and memory. She always underlined this part about memory.
The grandmother died when I was in army. I came to the aul and hurried to her grave. I thought I will see her grave covered with familiar pebbles, but there was unidentified grass on it. A noble, light green carpet of grass. I couldn't believe they forgot her request. I looked closer. No, pebbles was there, covered the grave with thick layer. But where this grass came from? Could pebbles have sprout? What does it mean?
Перевод Елизаветы Флоры