The Foreigner

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A mysterious foreigner shows up in the village of Akrabat, Turkmenistan. I apologise for people who find this politically incorrect about Akrabat, Russia and Turkmenistan overall. I didn't find very much about Turkmenistan, only the internet was my reference, so I had to make the scenery up >

The room was dry, a burnt out shell. Devoid of life, but not of humans. Faded charcoal from explosions was bathed against the walls of what was once known as the only English classroom in the village of Akrabat. Posters of the English alphabet and European countryside that once adorned the concrete walls, shredded and devoid of the colours it once possessed. The ceiling, non-existent from the blast; only the walls remained. Crowds used to herd the tiny room, in which those both young and old would listen to the teachings of Dr Todd in heavily accented Turkmen, despite the lessons meaning only for children. Broken, burnt chairs and desks lay scattered all across the floor, much like the bloodied villagers whose bodies lay along the tiny streets of Akrabat. Since war had started in Turkmenistan, all the children of Akrabat had disappeared one by one. Children; blown away by sleeping mines, waiting to attack those who dared to wake them up. Children; lying around the village piles, either in pieces or with frenzied gunshot wounds. Children; taken, and never seen again. Dr Todd was his name. He, the only speaker and teacher of English had been also taken away.

~*~*~*~

The villagers were fascinated by this strange, light-haired foreigner who spoke their language. Arriving in the village one normal day, a strange sight appeared from the horizon: a man. Carrying only a backpack, the villagers were surprised at how someone could survive on so little. As the stranger began to edge closer and closer to the border of the village, the women stopped their chores and stared in fear. The men, carefully eyed the stranger from their livestock. The villagers were not used to having foreigners visit Akrabat, and told their children to stay away, which the children largely ignored and ran towards in curiosity. The villagers were convinced that he was possibly a Russian. One by one, the foreigners' feet began to delay and came to a holt. He looked up from the pebbly ground and saw the cheerful, browned faces of children - laughing and shouting their greetings to the stranger. The foreigner smiled and squatted on his feet so that he could see their faces clearer. As the children approached the foreigner, they noticed how strange the man looked: Golden hair; with occasional strands of platinum blond, rounded eyes; coloured like the morning sky, skin; pale, but bleached by Turkmen sun. A handful of the children tugged at the strange clothing the foreigners was wearing while another few, fascinated by the unfamiliar face, asked him a handful of questions. The first question asked was from a young boy, no older than seven. Gazing at the seemingly friendly foreigner, he asked him in Turkmen, "Who are you?" It took a few seconds for the foreigner to think of a response. He opened his mouth: "My name is Dr Todd."

~*~*~*~

"Eyes" Dr Todd exclaimed in his English, pointing to his brightly coloured irises. "Eyes" the children repeated, sitting on the floor around the Doctor. "Ears" he exclaimed again, this time pointing to his ears sunburnt by the Turkmen sun. "Ears" the children repeated again. "Well, let's see if we can remember what all of these words are in English again" Dr Todd reverted back into accented Turkmen. He pointed to his nose. "Nose!" the children shouted in English, in an almost deafening manner. Dr Todd pointed to his ears. "Ears!" "Very good" he said in English, then proceeded to point to his eyes. "Eyes!" Dr. Todd laughed, "Very good class, you are learning English much faster than I thought. We will learn about colour in English." Dr Todd started to walk to the open concrete door, facing the village marketplace. "I will see you are tomorrow, bright and early" Dr Todd sang. The children exited the door noisily one by one.

 

Dr Todd turned around to expect an empty classroom, but turned to see a young girl, with rounded eyes. Dr Todd looked at her concerned. "Is something wrong Mahira?" The girl walked up to him slowly, hands behind her back. When she stood at a reasonable distance between herself and her teacher, she shyly revealed a medium sized box and gave it to him. "Is this for me?" The teacher asked quietly in Turkmen. Mahira nodded. "Please open it" she pleaded. "My mother made it from the wool my father gathered from his herd of sheep." Dr Todd looked at the box and then the girl, who was looking bashfully at the stone floor "Thankyou Mahira" he whispered. The box was a simple wooden box; carved from a tree that had fallen in a dust storm. There were no decorations. It was a simply polished box. Dr Todd began to pry the box open and lifted of the lid. Inside lay a traditional Turkmen garb, bright red with vertical yellow stripes with a matching belt. "Wow!" Dr Todd exclaimed, taking it out of the box, revealing its full length. "Mahira, this is magnificent. Please tell your mother that I am very thankful that a foreigner like me has been accepted here." Mahira looked at his sincerely, seeing that his eyes met hers in an honest fashion. "My mother wanted me to give this to you in exchange for something." Mahira tried to not whisper quietly. "She was wondering if she and some other villagers who are not children… If they could also learn English?" Dr Todd was surprised, not from the fact that his gift was a bribe, but the fact that others in the village showed a keen interest in learning English. "Of course Mahira, tell your mother and her friends they are most welcome to come to the same classes as you." Mahira smiled, revealing a mouth that was missing a few teeth. "Thankyou Dr. Todd" she said as she ran happily out of the room and sprinted down toward her parents farm, almost knocking down a man carrying a basket of cotton. Dr Todd smiled and put on the garb and walked over to turn on the old radio sitting in the back of the classroom.

"Just coming in now, we have news of a strike and Ashgabat. It seems that Russia wants to revolt and capture our country. Be warned, action may occur in the following cities: Ashgabat, Akraba-"

Dr Todd switched off the radio, disgusted by the news. Sitting at his desk, he looked out the high rise window and listened to the noises of the marketplace.

 

"13 Manat for 3 sheep!"

"Have you heard about Dilya? She's pregnant with her third child!"

"Please, I don't want to buy your maize."

"20 Manat for 20 chickens?! You have to be crazy! What about 40 manat?"

 

He propped himself up at his desk. "Why would Russians want to attack Akrabat? It's nothing but a small village nowhere near Ashgabat." Dr Todd dismissed the thought and ignored the warning of war in Akrabat.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Days went by and nothing was heard of. Dr Todd began to wear his garb every day to his English lessons. His English lessons were so popular among the villagers that the small, concrete room began to strain. To prevent further destruction of the classroom, Dr Todd initiated two classes: One in the morning and one in the afternoon. Dr Todd was teaching one of his afternoon classes when one day, one of the older students, a Shepard man in his late forties, ran into the classroom, bloodied, panting and screaming "RUN! THE RUSSIANS ARE HERE!!!!!!" Before being shot in the head three times. His corpse fell in the doorway, making a pool of blood on the floor.

People began screaming and tried to run out of the classroom, only to be shot at. Scruffy looking men with machine guns suddenly appeared and stepped onto the corpse. The room fell silent. The men barked out an order in Russian. Dr Todd stood up and talked, in a calm manner, in Russian to the men. The men laughed and grabbed Dr Todd by his garb. One of the men turned to the remaining, alive students and barked out in Turkmen "This man? You think you know who he is? His name is not Dr Todd. His name is Dr Todorov. He is traitor to Soviet Union and deserves to die." Dr Todorov looked at the men and said in Russian "You have no right to capture me, I am a Bulgarian national. I have never been involved with you Soviets." The man holding Dr Todorov sneered and dropped him onto the floor in a violent manner. "YOU SUPPORTED OUR MONARCHY!" The man shouted in Turkmen, so that the villagers could understand. He picked up the Bulgarian off the floor and whispered in his ear: "you studied in Moscow before our revolution, you still have links to our country." Dr Todorov looked at the villagers, a variety of ages as well as reactions. "We are taking this man away" one of the men barked. "You can't do that!" One of the younger villagers shouted. Dr Todorov tried to see who it was, but was knocked out by one of the men. All he could see was a face that strongly resembled Mahira. The men ignored the young  girl and picked up the almost seeming lifeless corpse of Dr Todorov and started to move towards the doorway. "No!!!!" She screamed running towards the men, in an attempt to save Dr Todorov. A couple of villagers also began to retort against the kidnapping of their teacher. "Silence! You!" One of the men slapped Mahira across the face. She stumbled back, knocking a few tables and chairs. The men carrying Dr Todorov proceeded to exit the building as another group of men carrying machine guns entered the classroom and loaded their guns.


Submitted: October 15, 2013

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