Spring 2004 (12.1)
Beautiful Day (1972)
V Odin Prekrasniy Den (in
Ibrahimbeyov's short story, "The
Pistachio Tree" was published in Azerbaijan International in
our previous literary issue, AI 7.1 (Spring 1999). The Azeri
version of "Pistachio Tree" along with these stories
published here are also available in Azeri Latin script. Search
Magsud Ibrahimbeyov was born in Baku
on May 11, 1935. He is recognized as writer, dramatist and scriptwriter.
In 1960, he graduated from the Construction Department of the
Politechnical Institute. But in 1964, he began focusing on literary
studies and writing and attended Master courses for screenwriters
and directors in Moscow in 1964. Since then, he has written many
novels as well as screenplays for 12 feature-length movies and
11 documentary films.
Ibrahimbeyov has been a member of Azerbaijan's Parliament (Milli
Majlis) since 1985. He is President of the PEN (Writers') Association
in Azerbaijan. He has been awarded The Order of the Red Banner
(USSR), The Order of Glory (Azerbaijan), and an award from the
Pope at the Vatican (2002).
His major novels and stories include: Wish He Would Stay with
Us, To All That is Good - Death!, Story with a Happy Ending,
Bit of A Spring Holiday, and A Comfortable Place in the Square.
His novel There Was Never a Better Brother along with An Owl
Flew By and Love Song for Baritone and Orchestra, are available
in English in paperback, published by AZ&S Company: Baku,
1997 (414 pp, small format).
Magsud also is known for his stage plays such as Mesozoic Story,
A Man for a Young Woman, To All That is Good-Death! His new play
The Oil Boom is Smiling at Everyone has recently been staged
at the Baku Drama Theater.
"On A Beautiful Day"
was translated from Russian into English by Arzu Aghayeva and
edited by Betty Blair.
Art: Vugar Muradov. Visit AZgallery.org for contacts.
Judging by the morning, it seemed it would turn out to be a bright,
sunny, hot day. And this same morning, Vasif Rafibeyli - a 32-year-old
chemical engineer (a positive person and, in general, a rather
successful one, at that) - saw a flying saucer. At first, he
didn't realize that what he had seen was a flying saucer.
There he was, shivering from the morning chill, standing on his
fifth floor balcony - all eyes. Slowly and silently, the large,
silvery disc approached the city at a low altitude from the direction
of the bay. In the pale, rose-colored dawn, it was possible for
him to see it quite clearly.
On the unidentified flying object (UFO), you could distinctly
make out dark stripes, girding it like a spiral and two or three
strange symbols, looking much like hieroglyphs, painted in black.
The UFO descended even lower and seemed almost to touch the rooftops
of the buildings.
Vasif stood, watching, as he clutched the banisters of the balcony.
His heart was pounding from excitement.
The cat Pakiza was also sitting there on the balcony, watching
the flying saucer with the same attentiveness. She was a very
inquisitive and observant creature.
Now the UFO hung motionlessly over the roof opposite Vasif's
building, and you could see that it was reversing itself and
moving backwards very slowly, revolving on its axis.
Vasif saw it with his own eyes from the balcony of the house
in which he had been born. The UFO was hovering above the very
street that he had known since childhood - the street by which
he had first gone to school, then to the Institute and later
to work. It was hovering above this ordinary Baku street - originally
of cobblestone, which had been repaved with asphalt.
The UFO hovered over this very ordinary street on which a tramline
used to pass which later was replaced by a trolleybus route.
The flying saucer passed over the grocery shop and the milk store,
above the traffic light, which was controlled by electronics
automatically. All this - on a very ordinary summer morning in
And thus, a very unusual phenomenon entered Vasif Rafibeyli's
A strange sound came from Vasif's throat and, suddenly, he ran
back into room. Grabbing a notebook and a pencil from the writing
table, he ran back out on the balcony and quickly copied down
the strange hieroglyphics, noting the dimensions of the UFO that
he estimated by sight. The flying saucer was huge - twice or,
perhaps, even two and a half times the size of the six-floor
building over which it was hovering. The air was filled with
the faint smell of hot metal.
Rather spontaneously, Vagif reached up to feel his hair that
was standing on end. From the material of his silk shirt, he
heard a faint crackling sound. Had it been dark, he sensed he
would have been able to detect faint blue sparks coming from
it. Pakiza cat gave a long meow and the hair on her back stood
straight up. Her eyes flashed as she rushed back into the apartment.
Never before had Vagif ever experienced the delight of such a
phenomenon. He could not take his eyes off what he knew, beyond
a doubt, was an extraterrestrial spaceship. In the meantime,
the UFO continued slowly revolving on its axis; the whirring
sound intensified, reminding him of bees hovering around a beehive
in cloudy weather. The surface of the UFO must have been very
hot, maybe, even scorching, because the tar on the roof of the
building opposite theirs had begun to melt. Already within two
to three minutes, the tar began to trickle down over the white
Vasif rushed back into apartment. This time he ran into the bedroom
to wake up his wife.
Art: Vugar Muradov. Visit AZgallery.org
"It's morning! Come on, get up!" he begged, trying
to speak as calmly as possible in order not to frighten her since
she was still half asleep. "Come out on the balcony!"
"You'll see." Vasif hesitated and then added, "Right
in front of us, hovering above the building opposite ourswell,
there's a space ship!"
"It can't be true! Wow, great!" His wife immediately
jumped up and started getting dressed. She slipped a dress over
her nightgown and ran to the mirror and started wiping off the
night cream on her face.
"Hurry up!" Vasif insisted. "Come out on the balcony.
Why do you need to put on a dress and make-up?"
"But you, yourself, just said that there was a spaceship
in front of our house! "Or were you just kidding? So, do
you think I should appear naked in front of guests? Would I go
out naked?! And, please, don't shout.
"You'll wake up the kids."
But the UFO could not be seen. It had disappeared. Only the smell
of hot metal lingered, but the air was no longer full of static.
Pakiza returned to the balcony. The narrow stream of melting
tar, flowing down over the wall of the building opposite theirs,
was the only proof that a UFO had been hovering there just a
few minutes earlier.
"Rush to the kitchen," Vasif said. "It may have
moved to the back of the house. Run!"
But from the kitchen window, the saucer could not be seen either.
The mysterious visitant from outer space had disappeared.
"Can you imagine," Vasif told his wife as he nervously
paced back and forth in his shorts in the bedroom. "It has
finally happened! Some celestial form of civilization has managed
to have contact with us. Where could it be from, I wonder. I
wouldn't be surprised if we learn that it has come from a different
galaxy. The shape of the UFO was so unusual.
Unbelievable, I saw it with my own eyes! Today marks the first
day of a new era for mankind."
"Great!" his wife replied. She had already crawled
back into bed. "Listen, why did they come so early?"
"What do you mean, 'early'?! This could have happened a
thousand years before us or after us."
"Look at the clock, it's half past four," she noted.
I thought, somehow, that there would be a formal ceremony. I
thought they would be met somewhere - maybe at the airport. But,
instead, they arrived at dawn, even before the street cleaners
had started to work. It doesn't seem right. And why did you wake
up so early?" she asked, stretching.
Suddenly, she shivered. "Who are you phoning so early?"
"Your dad. He'll never forgive me if I don't break the news
to him first."
His father-in-law, half asleep, could not understand at all what
was going on. Gradually things started to clear up.
"Very interesting," he said. "Thanks for calling."
He hung up the receiver and turned to his wife, who had been
listening intently to the conversation.
"What's the matter?" she asked. "Tell me what's
"Vasif has just seen a flying saucer," the father-in-law
said, after a pause.
"Where did he see it?"
"Up in the air, where else. He saw it and called me up."
"Oh, my God!" said the mother-in-law. "What's
going to happen? After all, he has kids! Poor Sanubar!"
"What do the kids have to do with this?" the father-in-law
said in defense. "He just saw a flying saucer, I don't see
anything wrong with that."
"But did you stop to think why, out of nowhere, he would
see a flying saucer?" she said in a small meek voice. "I'm
sorry, but you're talking as if you've never heard our relatives
or friends telling that they had seen something flying around
in the air. It's purely anecdotal.
"I'm going back to sleep," he said.
"I know," she said. That's convenientBut still you're
a very callous person," she said with a sigh. "And
this, despite the fact that you carry the responsibility for
both our daughter and our grandkids. As for myself, I've stopped
reminding you about me a long time ago."
"You're keeping me from sleeping."
"Whether I'm keeping you awake or not," she said in
a much quieter voice, "it doesn't change anything. I think
something strange is going on with our son-in-law. I've always
told you that there was something weird about him; and this call,
I think, will convince you as well. He has bad genes."
Without saying anything, the father-in-law got out of bed, gathered
his blanket and pillow, and settled down on the sofa in the living
room to go back to sleep "Egotist," she said, calling
after him. "Pick the blanket up off the floor." She
leaned back on the pillow, engrossed in thought.
This was the reaction about the UFO, supposedly of extraterrestrial
origin, which Vasif Rafibeyli first announced at the apartment
of his father-in-law.
Outwardly, this knowledge did not manifest itself in any way.
He was simply a man walking down the street with a business-like
gait. You couldn't even detect anything unique about his smile.
Simply, there was a subtle or, you might say, a smile-difficult
to discern-etched all over his face.
Just to look at Vasif, no one would have ever guessed that he
knew something to which when compared, all state secrets of the
world would fade. He was the person who had just witnessed an
event this morning, which would probably change the destiny of
Outwardly, this knowledge wasn't evident at all because Vasif
was an extremely well-bred person and absolutely knew how to
conduct himself in the street. But, inwardly, everything was
singing. As they say, he was enjoying life in a big way. He was
thrilled with having discovered the UFO. Besides, he was in a
hurry. He felt he didn't have the right to enjoy this alone;
he needed others to enjoy it, too.
He didn't wait for the elevator. It took him just seconds to
run upstairs to the fourth floor. To his surprise, his announcement
was met with rather cold stares in the lab, even after he had
disclosed all the details of what he had seen on the space ship
and after he had showed them his notes and sketches with the
"Why didn't you take a picture?" Sevda asked, blushing.
She was Vasif's colleague whom he always liked simply because
she was able to blush at the most innocent topic.
"Because I've never taken a photo of anything in my life,"
Vasif said, suddenly feeling himself redden. "I can't take
photographs. And, besides, I don't even have a camera."
"Wonderful," said the junior research assistant Mursal,
glancing aside. "By the way, Vasif, you didn't forget to
warn Hajiyev yesterday that we're running out of hydrofluoric
acid, did you? Well, thanks."
It wasn't that Vasif's mood turned bad or became worse. No, simply
it changed. The feeling of exuberance began to fade. However,
since there was a lot of work to do, he was distracted from thinking
about the impressions that he had had earlier that morning.
Two hours later, Vahid from the polymeric shop poked his head
through the door and asked cheerfully, "Which of you guys
in this lab today, in a state of half stupor, saw something green
with a tail and horns?Hi, Vasif. Listen, were you serious about
that? Come on, tell me about it! You know how much I love such
stories. So, you were standing there, minding your own business,
when suddenly this thing flew up to your balcony and said"
"It didn't say anything," Vasif said and laughed. "Come
back during break, we'll chat about it. But right now I'm busy,
as you see."
During lunch break, Vahid brought all his polymeric team to the
canteen and, forever winking at them, he proceeded to clarify
with Vasif if it were true that he had seen a "tray"
with a chicken on it and had not started drinking a bottle of
chacha on it in the air.
Everybody, including Vasif, laughed a lot because this Vahid
from the Polymeric Lab was so good at imitating how Vasif was
unable to reach the "tray" from his balcony and, how
in the end, it moved away, swearing like a villain in an extraterrestrial
language, unknown to science.
It was so much fun, but still Vasif could not figure out why
Arif Musayev, a researcher from his laboratory, who in the past
used to address him as "Vasif Muallim".1 But today, he had suddenly dropped
this deferential prefix and for some reason started addressing
him in the singular2.
Anyway, this thought flashed across his mind and then disappeared.
Vasif continued to watch Vahid who had entirely flown off the
handle. Vasif thought to himself that Vahid was a very gifted
person and had a very valuable talent; that is, the ability to
make people laugh - even those who weren't in the mood.
Vasif, himself, didn't have such a talent and, in general, that
made him sad. Then he proceeded to think about how unfair life
was. Some people, already at birth, were endowed with special
talents, which later on would assist them tremendously in life;
for example, with extraordinary vocal cords or a sense of humor.
Others just had to rely on their wit and hard work throughout
Vasif was starting to forget about the spaceship but after break,
they didn't let him forget about it. The news spread throughout
the whole institute and Vasif had to retell the story over and
over. Some of those who approached him brought up the subject
in a low voice, glancing around cautiously and looking at him
"It's an absolutely weird story," he thought to himself
sitting at his work desk, looking through the results of his
morning measuring. "I admit that on the face of it, the
news about a UFO may seem unbelievable. But I swear that I saw
it myself. I didn't hear it from someone else. I saw it myself.
I've always told the truth, then why doesn't anybody believe
me? And I know for sure that all those people whom I've told
have always treated me with great respect and trust. So what's
The telephone of the internal system rang, distracting his thoughts.
It was the director's secretary asking him to come see the boss.
In addition, the deputy economic director was also in the office.
The director - a tall guy, slim for his age, with a slender,
nervous face - stood up to greet Vasif as soon as he entered
the office. This formality was carried out a little more hastily
"How are you doing?" the director asked. "Today
I read your report. I just finished it and I have to admit, it
seemed very interesting to me."
Vasif was astonished. Usually because of the overload of work,
it took the director at least one and a half, or two, weeks to
read the reports; and he had turned his report in only the day
"Very interesting," the director repeated and proceeded
to analyze the virtues of the report thoroughly, elaborating
on the details. He went on for about 20 minutes. Then he stammered
and, after a pause, obviously embarrassed, he asked:
"Is it true?"
"I was told you had a dream about something?" the director
said, glancing sideways.
"It wasn't a dream. I really saw it," Vasif said, deciding
to stick with the story. And he told the director about what
he had seen - repeating the story for the umpteenth time that
day. Nevertheless, Vasif somehow sensed that the director didn't
believe him despite that he listened carefully and the well-wishing
expression didn't leave his face.
In conclusion, Vasif showed his notebook with the symbols that
he had copied.
"Well, well, well," the director said looking at the
pictures, "how interesting. Well, of course I don't have
any grounds not to believe you. But I'll tell you frankly, I
would be much more pleased if you said that all this story was
told you by somebody elseAnd nowI know you as a very serious
and thoughtful scientistBut extraterrestrial space ship? Still,
it's not believable, you'll have to agree. And this topic is
so hackneyed in science fictionYou must be fond of science fiction.
I also like to read in my free time. Especially this writer,
I always forget his name, it starts with "Sh". He writes
very well, I always forget his name, it's on the tip of my tongue,
but I can't remember it"
"No, noI'll tell you when I think of it.
"And then you know how difficult the situation is at our
institute. You remember how much people complained when you were
appointed Acting Lab Director. Even take this professor Akhundov.
He's not an intelligent man, absolutely far from science and
a trouble maker. Can you imagine now what a trump card he has:
the person claiming to direct the lab has seen a flying saucer!
My dear, I hate to remind you about the situation that has, unfortunately,
developed at our instituteBut I liked your report. Great job
and I think that your calling is in this stuff. And not in UFOs."
"Simply, let popular scientific magazines deal with these
saucers, but we, scientists, don't have to do that, we have our
own problems. How's everything at home? I'm glad. Stop by, I'm
always glad to see you."
A melancholic Vasif said goodbye and headed for the door.
"I remembered it!" the director called it. "That
writer's name is Yefimov. He writes very interesting stuff."
Outside the director's office, the secretary looked at him with
curiosity and whispered something to the typist. In the corridor,
the deputy economical director, Mubariz Mammadov, caught up with
"You know how I treat you, why do you need that?" he
said in one breath, gasping from the fast walk and asthma, "Why
do you need that? I was sitting in director's office this morning
when suddenly this Javadov came, Akhundov's nephew, you know
him, what a character he is.
Then Javadov said with mean grin, 'There's your pet Rafibeyli.
He's seen a flying saucer. And not only did he see it, but he's
been telling everybody about it. And you wanted to appoint him
Lab Director!' Can you imagine? Of course, I immediately stood
up for you, I told him it couldn't be true, that all that was
malignant gossip and talk. You have to give the director credit:
he didn't even want to listen to him. But facts are facts. Why
do you need this?"
"But I really saw it," Vasif said in utter despair.
"I saw it and can't do anything about it."
"Wonderful that you saw it," Mubariz Mammadov picked
up, "Good for you. But why do you need to tell about it,
do we talk about everything that we see?"
"For example, the other day in our courtyard, a husband
hit his wife. It was just one of those usual married couple's
quarrels. She scratched his face and he left her with two bruises.
And all this happened right in front of the eyes of the neighbors.
And I saw it, too, I, myself, was pulling them apart. She made
a complaint to the police. I was called as a witness and I said,
'I've known these people for many years, and I'll never believe
that they're even capable of fighting. It's impossible.'
"And they told me, 'How can you say that? Here are the scratches
and here are the bruises.' And I replied, 'It's impossible that
these people would fight, I'll never believe it.'
"And what happened in the end? They made up. And now they
don't greet any of the neighbors who were witnesses to the police.
You're a serious person. Why do you need to tell people that
you've seen a UFO? They're from a different planet and will fly
back home, but you will stay here. Why do you need this? Why
do you need to compromise yourself?"
He walked slowly along the street, nodding absentmindedly at
his acquaintances, of which there were many in this section of
town. Quite by accident, without even thinking, he turned up
a side street and after a few blocks, suddenly appeared at the
Cemetery of the Honored Ones [Fakhri Khiyaban]. He walked past
the monuments of famous scientists, composers and poets and read
the short inscriptions on their gravestones.
He stopped in front of the grave of a poet whose short and dramatic
life was known to every school kid. The impartial faces carved
in marble and granite with their wise, all-understanding expressions
looked calmly at him.
The day was fresh like spring. It smelled of grass. Not a single
cloud was in the blue sky. For the first time since morning,
Vasif didn't feel tense. He walked slowly, becoming reconciled
to himself. His thoughts were calm and no longer troubled him.
He smiled to himself, remembering Vahid, and the talk with the
director. It all seemed so trivial and humorous now.
He came back out onto the street and, having remembered that
he had promised to call his wife after work, he went up to a
payphone. She said they had been invited to dinner at her parents'
place, and she asked him to pick up the kids from the kindergarten.
In the meantime, she would run to her parents' to help out.
There were guests at his father-in-law's place-mainly relatives,
both close and distant. At the entrance, Vasif was met by Aunt
Mirvari, who rarely ever made an appearance, except for funerals
or premature births or in situations requiring expressions of
condolences and moral support. She blandly smiled at Vasif and
asked about his health and, at this, the expression on her thin
face became sympathetic with wet, sorrowful eyes.
"Well," she said, "Thank goodness, you look good.
Take off your coat, my dear. Everybody is waiting for you to
sit down at the table."
Dinner was unusually quiet. The first course was eaten in absolute
silence, as was the vodka toast: "For our prosperous youth".
"Listen," Rashid suddenly said, loud enough for the
whole table to hear as he vigorously chewed on something. Rashid
was the son of Uncle HasanVasif's mother-in-law's second
cousin, whom all the relatives knew as a rude and ill-bred person
- as was everyone else who came from Asaman.
"Listen," he said, "So, is it true that you've
seen something extraordinary? Tell us about it, please."
"Rashid! Why do you need that?" Vasif's embarrassed
mother-in-law said. "Vasif has come tired from work."
"I think it's better to ask a person straightforward, rather
than whispering behind their back. There are no outsiders here."
Rather coldly, Vasif said that he really was tired and didn't
feel like saying anything.
Personally, I believe you," Rashid said, encouragingly,
not stopping his chewing for even a second. "I can believe
anything, but some of your relatives," at this he alluded
to Agha Dadash, a rather portly, impressive-looking person about
whom rumors had spread among relatives for many years that he
was involved with governmental circles. "They don't believe
it; they say it's a figment of your imagination."
"It's not true," Agha Dadash protested. He cleared
his throat and continued in his thick baritone, "I only
said that if there were any certificates or, at least, some witnesses
who could attest to this phenomenon, then our dear Vasif could
get a corresponding award or even, in due course, receive a special
pension as the first person in Azerbaijan to see a flying saucer."
People at the table started quite a scientific debating about
the possibility for extraterrestrial bodies to enter the airspace
of Azerbaijan. In the end, the relatives never arrived at a consensus
and so they decided to play cards.
"Let's go home," Vasif whispered in his wife's ear,
taking advantage of the situation. "I'm tired today."
His wife got surprised. "But how can we leave? What about
tea? Mother will be so offendedToday, I intentionally read all
the newspapers - not a single word about your flying saucer."
"But how can it be written in newspapers if it only appeared
this morning?" Vasif said in a tired voice.
"I knew you would say that," she said, "and I
listened to radio all day long and the radio didn't mention a
word about it eitherWhat kind of fruit jam do you want?"
Vasif noticed that his mother-in-law had pulled her uncle on
her father's side away from the card table. He happened to be
a psychiatrist, and she was eagerly discussing something with
him. The conversation was carried out almost in whisper, but
still Vasif whose senses were heightened could catch some phrases:
"very bad signs, you're saying 'it's nothing', but I've
observed it in him in the past as well"
Vasif understood they were talking about him, and again everything
became boring and unpleasant.
"I'm going to leave, I'll go by myself," he decided
and stood up.
"Vasif, dear, tell us," the mother-in-law called to
him in a tender voice, "Forgive me, but I still haven't
asked you why your aunt in Kirovabad3 died so unexpectedly. When this misfortune
happened, you were in Moscow and I've always wanted to ask you."
"The official version," Vasif said, "is that she
had a car accident."
"Aagh! And as a matter of fact?"
"People said different things," Vasif shrugged his
shoulders with indifference. "But to you, I can say that
during her lifetime she suffered from a simple form of schizophrenia
and had other complications. We have grounds to think she committed
suicide," Vasif continued, gaining some inspiration.
Having slandered his innocent aunt, he was just about to proceed
on some of his other relatives, when he caught the psychiatrist's
"Alright," he said, winking at Vasif, "let's drink
some tea. And as for your aunt, may she rest in peace. Let her
alone. I knew her very well. We graduated from the institute
together the same year and then we worked together. God grant
us to be as calm and balanced as she was."
At the dinner table, those who weren't playing cards continued
"All chemists," stated Aunt Mirvari, "drink alcohol.
All of them! Take any chemist: they all drink alcohol. And how
can they not drink it if it lies around in every room. I had
a friend who didn't drink anything but alcohol. He said it didn't
give heartburn. And his head was clear in the mornings and it
was 100 proof alcohol. God knows what else can appear in your
dreams if you drink it."
"Vasif doesn't drink anything at all," said Vasif's
wife angrily, "neither alcohol, nor cognac. So you, Aunt
Mirvari, don't think like that about him."
"God forbid," Aunt Mirvari said, "I didn't mean
Vasif. We were just talking."
"What a stupid thing I've done," Vasif thought to himself.
"Why did I have to tell everybody about it? I'll never do
such stupid thing again. I need to find some way out of this
idiotic situation," he finished up his tea and smiled at
"I just played a joke on you," Vasif said loudly. "I
made a joke and you all believed me immediately. I would never
have thought that it would have been so easy to play a trick
"Of course, joked! Judge for yourself. How can a flying
saucer appear out of the blue?"
"Oh! Thank goodness. Otherwise, you scared me - an old woman
- to death! And I'm not a stranger to your wife - you're my closest
people. I remember once I came here about 20 years ago and she,"
Aunt Mirvari pointed to Vasif's mother-in-law, "was punishing
Sanubar. As soon as I saw that, I put my hand to protect the
child and she hit my arm twice. I still remember that - as if
it were only yesterday."
The mother-in-law was watching Vasif. She was still suspicious.
"Of course, he joked," his wife said happily. "Vasifka
is a joker, there's nothing that he likes better than making
"Good joke!" Rashid shouted at the card table. "Three
Aces against your three Kings! How do you like such a joke?!
You think I already forgot how you punished me with your square
last Sunday? I remember everything! Jokes continue!" he
proclaimed and gathered all the color chips of frustrated Agha-Dadash.
That night they decided to leave the kids with the mother-in-law.
Vasif walked silently in the street beside his wife. The sky
was clear. The stars above were shimmering with a mysterious
light - those stars whose light rushes for many hundreds of thousands
of years to Earth for an unknown purpose and, in the end, arrive
at different times.
For some time Vasif kept peering into the sky and then he started
looking for a taxi. He failed to get one. But his bad mood disappeared
and he walked along calmly, chatting with his wife.
"Zema called me today. You know, she turned out to be so
mean. I told her you had seen a flying saucer. I didn't know
at that time that you were just joking. She thought a little
and said that if you started inventing such fables, then soon
you would start to cheat on me, and that I should start keeping
an eye out on you. She thinks if her husband goes to meetings
on Saturdays and holidays, then you're like him, too. Of course,
I didn't say anything to her, but I thought to myself, 'My Vasif
is not like that, he's the best.'"
By the time they reached home, it was quite late.
"Where are you going?" his wife asked in surprise when
instead of entering the front door, Vasif crossed the street.
With the light from a flashlight, he started to look for something
on the opposite sidewalk next to the wall. "What are you
looking for there?"
"Well," Vasif said. He ripped off a piece of tar from
the asphalt, which in the morning had flowed from the roof right
in front of his eyes. "Nothing special."
"A piece of ordinary tar," Vasif said. "For some
reason, it melted this morning and flowed down here from the
"You've really become weird."
"But still I'm not going to cheat you," he laughed.
"I'm terribly worried that our neighbors' roof will start
leaking because of this piece of tar."
Vasif was going upstairs looking at the piece of tar in the dim
light of the front door. It was ordinary black tar-sticky, smelling
of oil and dust. Vasif twisted the tar in his hands and thought.
He almost didn't listen to what he wife was telling him, because
he was being overcome by weird thoughts, vague thoughts flowing
in his brain slowly, aloud, and uninterruptedly. He felt a strong
desire to stop them even for a moment, to lock them in a finished,
When in the end, he managed to do that for a split of a second,
he understood that he would never again see the world the same
as before. He felt he had become different todayThose seconds
passed and his thoughts again hid in the depth of his consciousness,
from where you can extract them only in the sleep or in the minutes
of highest spiritual awareness.
As they reached their apartment entrance, they heard the phone
"Who could be calling us so late?" his wife said in
surprise. "Do you have the keys?"
"Hello," Vasif said, "No, no problem, we go to
bed late. 'Not on your life!' he thought to himself, 'I won't
tell you'. No, no, I haven't seen anythingIt was a jokeyou know,
an innocent anti-scientific joke"
"Strange thing," the despondent voice on the phone
replied. "In addition to me, three other people saw the
space ship this morning and all of them are refuting their words
I can't understand what's going on."
"So, you saw it?" Vasif asked cautiously.
"Yes, I did," said the voice. "I'd like to meet
up with you tomorrow morning and talk."
"Do you like beer?" Vasif asked.
"Yeah! Good beer!"
"I have a of genuine Khirdalan beer," Vasif said. "If
you can come over right away, please do. I'll give you the address.
"I'm coming," the voice said.
He moved away from the telephone and suddenly saw Pakiza who,
because of the light was sleepily narrowing her eyes, lying on
couch. He went over and picked up the cat in his arms.
"But still did you and me see something this morning? Yes,
"Who are you talking to?" his wife asked from the kitchen
"To Pakiza," Vasif said, "who else? I think she's
the smartest cat in the city." He went to the fridge and
checked if the beer was sufficiently chilled.
"Muallim Vasif" literally means "Vasif Teacher".
In other words, he addressed him with respect.
In Azeri, adults generally address each other in the more formal
plural forms until close relationships are established. This
relates to the verb forms when "you" is used as well
as to pronouns.
Kirovabad was the Soviet name given to the ancient Azerbaijani
city of Ganja, located in north central Azerbaijan today.
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