The Queen's cow

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: April 18, 2016

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Submitted: April 18, 2016

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The Queen's cow

(A story)

Timur has never dreamt he would see such a tiny village located on the edge of a rocky mountain somewhere right in the middle of the walnut forest that rarely found anywhere else on the planet. They arrived at Akjar village at midnight which was one hundred kilometers away from the center of the region.

“The journey is now complete. We have reached our destination. Today you are staying at my house,” driver Askar said.

Carrying his suitcase, Timur followed Askar.

“Saikal, I brought a guest to our house. A brand new teacher arrived at our school,” Askar announced.

“Welcome to our home! Come in, please,” said his beautiful wife covering her head with a floral scarf.

“You will surely have time to look around the village in the morning. I am more than confident that you will fall in love with this place. You will see.  After living here for some time you will never want to leave the village,” Askar foretold.

The next morning due to the long trip that he had made, Timur woke up close to the noon. He stepped out of the house and froze for a moment, because he could not believe his eyes. Askar's big garden was full of apple trees that barely lifted its branches rich in red, golden and green fruits. On the other side of the fence there were wild apple trees with relatively small apples, red, yellow and dark blue wild cherries, big walnut trees occupied and surrounded the whole place. Timur reminisced his dean's saying: “Arstanbap – a heaven on earth, it is a motherland of a mass walnut trees and various other types of trees.” Listening to sounds of thousand different birds as they roam across the forest, the city boy felt himself in a state of euphoria. Tall and beautiful trees swaying like ladies blocked almost all the houses in the village.

Upon finishing their lunch Askar brought Timur to the school. All the eleven teachers were at work counting down the days before the start of a new school year.

“We are so excited about your arrival. Young teachers do not often come to our village saying that it is a very remote area,” school principal Kasymbek said wearing a pair of spectacles, who is around his 50s.

“I have been informed about your advent in advance. Today I would like to take you to a place where you are going to reside and introduce you to Mother Kairynsa. You can come to work starting from tomorrow,” the school principal said. A lovely writing: Katar-Jangak secondary school #18 in the school's entrance grabbed Timur's attention.

Mother Kairynsa was in her 70s. Her two daughters had their own families and the mother had her grandson Aibek near by her side who studied in grade 6. They had prepared a tiny two-room house for Timur close to their grand house.

With the arrival of September a new academic year has started. Timur began to teach English lesson to the pupils from 5th to 10th grades. He employed his knowledge gained at the university, his professors' advice and teaching skills obtained from an internship while teaching at school. Timur even launched an additional class for more active students.

“Dear boys and girls, it is beneficial to learn Russian, English and other foreign languages besides our mother tongue. The more languages you know, the more you are a human. If you study English, it will be helpful in your future,” Timur advised before his lesson. Whether it was Timur's hard work or children's strong interest in English, they started to demonstrate tangible progress.

Timur did not limit himself to only teaching a foreign language, but also he learned the life of the village and its people. Sometimes when he was bored, he would come to Askar's house and chat for a while.

“I will marry you here and make you stay in this village. Saikal, start looking for some good girls,” Askar joked.

“ Teacher might already have his girlfriend,” Saikal said.

A family with three daughters and a son lived in front of Mother Kairynsa's house: their elder daughter Sairagul studied in grade 6, then Kayirgul in grade 2, a six-year old Nurgul and little Talant.

One day when Timur, Mother Kairynsa and Aibek were having a meal and he asked:

“Mother, I have not seen your neighbor's husband at all. Does he work somewhere far away?”

“Are you talking about poor Zymyrat? Her husband was a jack-of-all-trades master. As soon as he finished building his house, he got sick and stayed in a bed. They took him to the hospital, but it did not help. He died in the hospital. I thought that his parents also barely made both ends meet. Since everyone has his own family. On the other hand, Zymyrat is a very practical woman. She works very hard to make her children live better. Tomorrow when her daughters grow up, they will assist their single mother. May God give a long life to her children. Her daughters are very smart with good behavior. Poor Kaldarbai master, it is his fault that he died. Zymyrat receives social benefit from the government that do not cover her food or clothes,” Mother Kairynsa sighed.

One day Timur returned home late after his extra lesson. He heard someone talking very loudly in the grandmother's house. Then Aibek came in and invited him for dinner. When Timur approached the door, Ashyrbai the veterinarian was telling stories about cows to Mother Kairynsa and her grandson. The veterinarian seemed drunk and Timur did not want to join his company.

“Mother, we, the Kyrgyzs, do not respect cows at all. Let Indians respect cows very much. They worship these animals as their God. If cows graze in their yards, people let them stay there until the cattle feel full and leave by themselves. If they lie on the roads not only people, but also cars do not disturb them by not blowing their horns. Indian people respect these animals because of their milk. If you think, Mother, cows are walking factories. What about our Kyrgyz people? We prepare our sticks as soon as they enter our fences. The cows living in India must be so happy,” Ashyrbai said and drank a cup of vodka wrinkling his face and smelled his old hat after a gulp.

“Mother, I want to tell you that Indians do not eat beef at all. I have already mentioned that they worship these animals like their God. Indian cows are lucky indeed. However, we do not do so and instead we eat a lot of beef with fat. Butchers say that unlike lamb and horse meat, people buy more beef. Mother, I think that cows living in Kyrgyzstan are so unhappy. If you have noticed, cows are sacred animals: they deserve special respect and attention. I believe there is a reason of a saying “If you kick one cow's horn, other thousand cows would feel the pain.” If cows smell the blood of a cow after it was killed, a herd of grieving cows gather and never leave the place. To be honest, even people's grief do not reach that epic level. Our Kyrgyz people do not consider it as a serious issue, only Indians understand it well enough and even try to share the animals' grief,” Ashyrbai the veterinarian assured.

“What are you talking about?”Mother Kairynsa asked in a shock.

“Oh my God. If you do not believe me, ask the Teacher.”

“My little boy, have you invited Timur for a meal?” Mother Kairynsa asked her grandson Aibek. I imitated as if I just stepped in and made a noise while entering the door.

“Here comes the Teacher himself,” Ashyrbai the veterinarian greeted and shook my hand without standing up from his place.

“Brother, I am telling here about how Indians worship cows and they found it unbelievable. I cannot blame Kairynsa: she has never left this town in her life. If a person does not have education, how could she possibly know these things,” Ashyrbai assured.

He asked me, “By the way, Indians speak English, am I right, my brother?”

“You are absolutely right, Ashyrbai brother! India has been Great Britain's colony for about 300 years and therefore, English language is considered to be their state language,” I answered.

“Did you hear Mother Kairynsa? A man of science is always informed about everything. If only I had lived in India, I would be extremely happy. I would treat their sick cattle that they worship more than anything else in the world and become a respected, but more importantly a rich person!” Ashyrbai uttered living in his dream.

“Let's take me as an example. Today I gave an injection to Mother Kairynsa's cow for free. And she gave me a bottle of vodka and 5 som. It is not fair. If there was an Indian lady instead of her, she would pay me 5,000 rupee, right my brother?” Ashyrbai asked expecting some kind of support from my side. I nodded my head agreeing with his point.

Right at this moment the following episode from “One hundred years of solitude” by Gabriel Marquez came to Timur's mind:

“Breed my cows, shouted Aureliano II with so much joy in a state of euphoria. Breed! Life is short anyway,” he reminisced these lines and smiled. At this very moment Ashyrbai the veterinarian reminded him Columbian Aureliano II.

“The happiest cows on earth are Indian cows. Only Indians know how to truely respect and value cows, but we do not!”

 Aibek asked me a question after Ashyrbai left the house:

“Teacher, is it true that Indian people respect cows that much?”

“Yes, the population of India consider cows as the sacred animals in the world.”

“Is it also true that Indian people speak English?” Aibek asked being so curious.

“English and Hindi are both considered to be India's state languages,” I replied satisfying Aibek's hunger for information.

 

* **

 

Days have past in the blink of an eye. Timur's English class became students' favorite class. The number of students registering for his class exceeded day by day. School principal Kasymbek made a habit to shame other teachers setting the young teacher Timur as a role model to others.

“No matter how well do you study English, you cannot go far without knowing mathematics,” Sooronbai opposed.

“No one is attempting to oppose you. I am only trying to say here that you should start making some effort to instill students' love in math. From now on I do not want to hear as you compare the subjects favoring one from another,” the school principal warned Sooronbai.

As New Year's Day approached, the school students began to prepare for the New Year celebration. For the students of the elementary school Regional Education Department has showed a great support providing them with candies, fruits and other special presents. When only 3 days were left before the New Year's Eve, the school celebrated their New Year's Day celebration. A really interesting, but more importantly an exceptional event happened for the first time in the life of this school. Not only Father Frost and Snow-maiden congratulated the school children on upcoming brand new year, but also Santa Claus came to join their team this year. The difference between Father Frost and Santa Claus was that Father Frost had a long winter jacket and the latter had a short jacket. One more difference was that if Father Frost congratulated the kids and their parents in Kyrgyz language, Santa Claus congratulated them in English language. Santa Claus's visit to this school became one of the unexpected and memorable events for kids and the guests. Santa Claus quizzed high school students in English language and gave notebooks, pens and books as presents for the winners. The students spent quite a good number of days preparing for this special occassion. The celebration went really exciting and interesting. Songs were sung in three languages: Kyrgyz, Russian and English. Thus, now school children were more than ready to take their wonderful winter break.

 

* **

 

Zymyrat has been working as a cleaning lady at school. Since most of the times especially in the morning and in the evening she is at work, sometimes her little kids would wait for their mother at Mother Kairynsa's house. When Timur returned from the school's New Year celebration, he found the youngest daughter and a son of Zymyrat at an old lady's house. Mother Kairynsa and the kids had a meal together and after that Timur asked Kayirgul and her brother to come to his room. He gave candies to both of them and said:

“Kayirgul, I am going to the city tomorrow. I decided to pay a visit to my parents and relatives during the break. If I tell you a secret, won't you reveal it to anyone?” Timur inquired Kayirgul.

“No way. I will not reveal it to anybody,” Kayirgul looked at her teacher with a suprised face.

“I own one secret and know it very well. And I would like to share it with you now. There lives a queen in Great Britain and her name is Elizabeth. English people call her “Our Queen” and respect her very much. Her grand-grandparents had been ruling Britain since the ancient times. Royal rule is considered as the nation's symbol and as a tradition that the generations keep it as a heritage from their ancestors. Every year boys and girls from different countries across the world send letters to Queen Elizabeth telling their holy secrets. I believe you would also like to send one to the English Queen, would not you?”

“Does Queen make all the kids' wishes come true?” Kayirgul wondered.

“No Kayirgul. However, she personally reads all the letters and only she decides who to send an answer. I want to tell you a true story.

One day a royal family was about to have lunch and gathered at the table. All the other family members showed up, but only Queen was absent for some reason. After a little while of waiting, a senior household servant knocked her office's door and gave a quick look. When he came in, British Queen Elizabeth II was crying sitting at her desk. With an unbelievable surprise the senior household servant inquired:

“Your Majesty, what has happened to you? Is everything all right with you?!” The Queen answered in the following way:

“Yes, Richard. I feel myself all right. In African country called Congo hundreds of children are suffering from hunger at this moment. I just heard this information from the radio. If they are dying of starvation, how could I swallow any food? My dear Richard, I beg you to buy food for my salary and make sure that those children receive it. I really want you to do that!” announced Her Majesty.

“Look at the Queen! Have you noticed what kind of a generous and caring woman she is.” Kayirgul thought for a while and asked Timur:

“I do not want to distract the Queen with my minor issue, Teacher. She must have other tons of work to do,” Kayirgul said calmly.

“Of course, it is your decision, but if I were you I would bet and ask the Queen for a cow,” Timur suggested.

“It would have been wonderful if we had our own cow. We beg for milk and yogurt from other people,” Kayirgul expressed and looked at her brother with pity and love at the same time. “Would not it cause any problem for the Queen to make my wish happen, what do you think, Teacher?” Kayirgul asked Timur.

“You should give it a try and write a letter. Perhaps she will read it. She is the Queen of Great Britain! Of course, I cannot guarantee it. But how about if you secretly write a letter to the Queen without telling it to anyone and bring it to me in the morning. I will translate your letter into the Queen's language and send it from the city. Who knows, maybe we will have a good luck. Now do we have a deal? Make sure that no one knows about this letter except two of us, ok?”

Kayirgul nodded as a sign of her answer “yes.”

The next day early in the morning  Kayirgul brought her letter addressed to the British Queen. Her letter sounded in the following way:

“Dear great Queen of Great Britain Elizabeth,

I am sending my warm greetings from Kyrgyzstan and also would like to congratulate you on upcoming New Year. I decided to reveal you one of my secrets. My mother being single is taking care of her three daughters and a son on her own. My elder sister and I go to school, whereas my little sister and a brother are too little to go to school. Never in her wildest dreams did my mother imagine that one day we would buy our very own cow. However, we cannot afford money to buy the animal. Many people in the village own a cow, but we do not. There were a lot of days when we asked other people for milk and yoghurt. Your Majesty, I decided to share with you my particular wish. If you have money, could you please buy a cow for us? When I grow up and start working, I give my word that I will pay you back.

Yours, Kayirgul Turdumamatova

 Katar-Jangak secondary school #18.

A student of the second grade. Akjar village, Kyrgyzstan”

Timur translated Kayirgul's letter into English in front of the girl and left the town. Right upon the arrival he went directly to Aleksandr's house, with whom he grew up together in the orphanage.

“Welcome, my friend! How have you been? You have not writen to me after you have left the city?!” Sasha questioned Timur giving him a big hug.

“Can you believe, my friend, that I have been loaded with tons of work there. As you know I have been sent to a remote village. As soon as winter break has started I was on my way back to the city. You will not believe Sasha, if you find yourself in the village that I am currently living in, you would feel yourself in a heaven. It is a beautiful place with divine nature. If you look around you will see snow-capped mountains everywhere. In fact, I now believe that Arstanbap is a truely fertile land and a real heaven. The person who has not seen Arstanbap before, should not say that he had ever lived in this world. Our dean Mr. Saparbaev was absolutely right by saying these words. God willing I will invite you and Natasha there, so you can see it with your own eyes!” Timur elaborated more about Akjar village, Arstanbap, his school, simple villagers and their astounding hospitality.

Aleksandr's wife Natalia was so excited about Timur's visit. Over the meal three of them reminisced their orphanage, its director Japar Sadykov and his wife Sonunbu. They decided to visit the orphanage and see their teachers who brought them up to be better people.

“Sasha and Natasha, you are my close people. I do not have anything to hide from you. I came here to discuss one issue with you and want to hear your opinion,” Timur said handing Kayirgul's letter to Sasha. After reading it, Sasha gave the letter to his wife Natasha. Three of them not only grew up together in the orphanage, but also studied together at the same university in the same department of Foreign Languages. The only thing was that Natasha studied French language. She and her husband even dream in Kyrgyz language.

“My dear friends, what do you think about it?” Timur asked.

“C'est la vie, Timurchik! I understood your point and you have my full support. You will make Queen Elizabeth roll over in her grave,” Natalia joked.

“What about you, Sasha?” Timur asked being impatient to hear Sasha's point of view.

“If my angel supports the idea, where would I go. I bet next time you will not bring a letter addressed to Mother Theresa,” Aleksandr laughed.

“Thank you, my dear friends! I knew you would support me. Now let me explain you our further action,” Timur announced.

 

* **

Timur returned to Akjar when only a day was left before the start of the school. Besides other minor presents he brought a Kyrgyz-English dictionary for Aibek and a floral silk scarf for Mother Kairynsa.

“My mother gave you this scarf as a gift,” Timur said.

“Thank you very much, my dear! How are your parents and relatives?” Mother Kairynsa asked for other news and wanted to chat a bit.

 

* **

One day an interesting story occurred. Timur and Aibek tied up their cows outside, gave them hay and cleaned the inside of the cow shed from manure. For it was freezing winter the sunshine rarely gave any warm and therefore they would tie the cattle up outside and give them hay and take them to river to water during the lunch time. In the afternoon not to make the cattle get cold outside, they would feed and tie up in the shed. As soon as Aibek cleaned the cow shed, he went inside the house to watch TV. The weather had a bad mood and was ready to snow. The surrounding was covered with white snow and the ground got icy.

On spur of moment Timur heard a child's cry from the street. He opened the gate to learn who was the owner of that poor cry and saw Kayirgul in the street. She was carrying a three-litre enameled pot wrapped up with her mother's large silk scarf. As she froze because of the severe frost, her cheeks and hands turned red and her eyes were full of tears.

When Kayirgul approached, Timur blocked her way and asked:

“Kayirgul, what has happened to you? Are you cold? Why are you crying?”

As soon as she noticed him, she started to cry even more louder.

“My mom has sent me to ask for milk and I slipped on the ice on the way back home and the next second my milk was all over on the road. Now, my mom will get so angry with me!” Kayirgul cried even more.

“Please, stop Kayirgul! Do not worry! You should not cry for that matter. It does not really cost your tears, believe me. Now I will ask Mother Kairynsa for milk,” Timur took Kayirgul's hand and entered the house.

“It is said “A person who has its people, never stays hungry.” One day Zymyrat's daughters will grow up and they will certainly have a wonderful life. In such cold weather, your mother should have sent your elder sisters to ask for milk?!” Mother Kairynsa said. Kayirgul did not make any sound.

“Her sisters are ashamed to ask for milk in the village,” Aibek intervened.

“Sit still there! No one has asked your opinion!” Mother Kairynsa said harshly. After the old lady's hot tea, Kayirgul got warm and Aibek following her grandmother's order carried a pot full of milk and took Kayirgul to her home. For Zymyrat did not have her own cow, sometimes she would ask other villagers for milk and yoghurt. However, even those who had their cattle would get less milk themselves in winter. In such cases it was a bit difficult for Zymyrat to fulfill her children's needs.

* * *

Cold winter packed its clothes and left giving its turn to spring. Trees sprouted their leaves and Arstanbap turned into a green world. The villagers planted seeds and potatoes. Various fruit trees bloomed all at once. All the birds built their nests in the trees. The nature enjoyed the symphony of life and tranquility.

After the 9th of May (Victory Day) Timur finished his class and was preparing for the additional lesson. Suddenly English classroom's door opened and Aibek came in with a great rush. His breathing revealed that he ran so fast as if someone was after him.

“Teacher, an English man brought a cow with a calf to Zymyrat. Ashyrbai the veterinarian sent me to bring you to the spot as soon as possible. He asked to hurry up!” Aibek rushed.

“Come on, how do you know that he is an English man?”

“He is speaking the same language, as you use while conducting an English lesson.”

“Let's go then. How did they bring a cow with a calf? By foot?”

“No, Teacher. They brought the cattle in a lorry. It is a very big and black cow and its calf looks like just her mother!” Aibek expressed assuring Timur that all what he has told him was true.

“Teacher, also a cow and a calf both have ringing bells tied around their necks with red ribbons. More interesting thing is that when the cow or its calf walk or turn their heads, those bells ring,” Aibek said being so excited.

When they reached Zymyrat's house a crowd of people was already there. Among them Timur's eyes identified Ashyrbai, Mother Kairynsa, Zymyrat with her daughters and neighbors.

“In my experience being a veterinarian for many years, this is the first time I have seen such a well-bred cow. Look at the height of the animal! Our cows are goats comparing to this one!” Ashyrbai admired checking out the cow going in a circle.

“Here comes our translator! Hey brother, we have no idea what this guest is talking about. So quickly translate it for us,” Ashyrbai asked Timur.

“Welcome to our village, dear our guest,” when Timur welcomed the guest his eyes lit with excitement as if his mother gave birth.

“Hello! Oh, thank God that you came. I was having a headache trying to think the ways how to hand over the Queen's special request,” a blonde English man said. Timur and the guest communicated for a while. The guest took a white paper out of his briefcase and handed it to Timur. While reading the paper Timur nodded and again they continued their conversation in a completely unknown to the villagers language. They talked in Sheakspear's language fluently and freely. Next, Timur walked toward Kayirgul who was standing near her mother and whispered:

“Queen of Great Britain Elizabeth II has sent this cow and its calf for you,” Timur announced. Her eyes lit because of unexpected excitement. Her unexpected happiness made her body react in many different ways: looking at the cow and its calf, and then the guest and her mother and then Timur with a smile on her face. Her childish pure happiness infected her surrounding. Her happiness right at this moment seemed big enough even for the whole world. 

“Zymyrat and Kayirgul, our guest has asked an audience with you two,” Timur took them toward the English man. There was a big crowd of people and they joked about the cow and its calf. When four of them reached the place where no one could disturb them, Timur and the guest started to communicate in a completely unknown to the villagers language again. Then Timur asked Zymyrat:

“Zymyrat, Kayirgul wrote a letter addressed to the Queen of Great Britain. I translated it and sent it before the New Year. This man wants to hand over the Queen's present for you and head back to the city as soon as possible. Kayirgul, please write down your first and last name right here and today's date. The guest will give the Queen's letter to you and I will read it for you later. I asked him to stay for a meal, but he insisted on leaving earlier,” Timur said showing Kayirgul where to sign. After receiving the signed papers, the English man gave Kayirgul a new and very beautiful envelope.

In the meantime, having nothing in her mind Zymyrat seemed just awakened and began to hurry up.

“Let me at least serve quick tea, if our guest is in a hurry,” she said looking at Timur. He translated Zymyrat's request. The English man smiled and seemed to express his gratitude in his own language.

“Zymyrat, the guest is really grateful and asked to leave earlier since the road was too long.”

The English man approached Kayirgul and said something in his mother tongue, where Timur translated: he said that everything was included in the Queen's letter. The guest sat back on the seat of a lorry that he brought the cattle in and left in a rush.

“Zymyrat, it will be a good idea if no one will know about the Queen's present except three of us. Please, tell others that some good people helped you. Our guest had asked for a favor to do so. The Queen does not like to announce her charity activities. Now, give me a time to read the Queen's letter addressed to Kayirgul,” Timur took a beautiful envelope from Kayirgul's hand and opened it very carefully.

“Dear my lovely petite daughter Kayirgul,

I was thrilled to receive a letter from you. Believe me, it is the first time that I am receiving a letter from Kyrgyzstan. It turned out that I am not only the Queen of people of Great Britain, but your Queen as well and I am very proud to be one. I want to thank you for that. After reading your letter I could not stop myself from learning all the things about Kyrgyzstan. Your country made me really amaze and admire. Famous Tyan-Shan and Pamir mountains, Issyk-Kul are all amazing places. By the way, I truely believed the USSR's astronaut Aleksei Leonov when he said that if you looked at Issyk-Kul from the space, it really looked like a human's heart. Even from the map it does remind a human's heart.

My lovely little Kayirgul, I want to thank you million times for your saying about paying it back to me when you grow up and start working. I wish you knew that how much strength and hope you gave me by saying these words! The queens never take back their given presents. This action does not correspond to the Queen's title. Accept it as my present for you, please. I would like to ask you to study well, always please your mother with your good behavior, love and respect your sisters and a brother. I strongly believe that your cow and calf will certainly love Kyrgyzstan's fresh air and beautiful land.

Your Queen,

Elizabeth”

News about Zymyrat's possession of a cow with a calf traveled so fast within the village and exactly for about a month people talked only about this news. Even people living in the neighboring villages made a special trip to see the cow with their own eyes. However, no matter many people's constant questioning the owners, no one knew about a real story how the cow came and who gave it to Zymyrat's family. As Ashyrbai the veterinarian predicted Zymyrat's cow gave a lot of milk comparing to other cows in the village which she noticed when she first milked the cow. No word could describe the cow's patience.

“It is not just an ordinary animal, it is a well-bred cow. We should start thinking about how to breed this well-bred cow. I have never seen such kind of an animal before,” Ashyrbai admired.

“Hey Zymyrat, it is said that some people have bad mouth or bad eyes. Can you take away those ringing bells and put koz monchok (an amulet worn to protect against evil or disease) instead? A lot of people are coming everyday to see the animals. Protect your children's wish and well-being,” Mother Kairynsa came to Zymyrat's house one day early in the morning and advised.

On the same day Zymyrat untied red ribbons with bells and put koz monchok to the mother cow and her child in places where no one could notice. Zymyrat and her daughter prayed for the Queen's long life and thanked her thousand times. However, in reality all these things were done by abandoned Timur, an orphan who was brought up in the orphanage and started his teaching career from Akjar village and who had never had his parents' love. But no one even thought about that it might have been their Timur. From the very moment when Timur saw the Queen's letter, ringing bells in red ribbons tied up around the cows' necks, without any hesitation he knew that it was all Natalia's ideas...

 

The story was translated by Meerim Mamyrbekova.

Jalalabad city, Kyrgyzstan


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