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"Petrichor" short story by Jumanazar Yuldash, Uzbekistan


‘I beg you, please never leave me alone…’

He unintentionally whispered as he held his wife’s hands both firmly and in a kindly way, and he rubbed them on his eyes. Having heard this crying-like exclamation the patient who used to be groaning a minute before regained consciousness. She caressed hair of her husband who was kindly kissing and rubbing her hand on his forehead.

‘Oh how can I quit you, my madman?’

The man who went into ecstasy of seeing his wife’s consciousness automatically kissed her forehead.

‘Just recently doctor was here. He said that you would not wake up in a short time. However, thanks to my God, my prayers seem to be reached to him’.

A weak smile appeared on the pale face of woman. Afterwards for some reason she sighed and army of thoughts conquered her mind.

‘You… never ask for my recovery’ she said utilizing all strength she possessed.

‘Why you are uttering these words?’ the man shocked.

‘Because… I do not know why but for some reason God does not gave us what we asked for but the very opposite one. For instance, now you absolutely want me to live but maybe until tomorrow I will have been perished and fairies will be dancing around my spirit in the heavens’.

‘What should I do then? See, you are in a bad situation and I simply cannot keep calm without paying attention. At least I must pray for your sake’.

‘You would better… ask for my death’.

The situation was really uncomfortable for the husband and even it cannot be described with the help of words unless the reader have been in a such situation. Inclining his head, he was completely dumbfounded by the last utterance. From his condition it was possible to know that he was imagining his life alone. Finally, he managed to say a word:

‘Do not repeat this anymore…’

Apparently, woman suddenly realized that she started talking about unhappiness, therefore she did all her best to explain what was the real meaning of her words.

‘I assume that you misunderstood me. I do not choose passing away, contrarily, I want to live, only to live happily with you, my lover, and I can imagine my future in the dim: you and I shall hand-in-hand go to forest after the rain to collect mushrooms, with a wide smile in our faces. Yes, I can see the very scene! Yes! 

A light, tired but happy smile appeared on her pale white face which had been revived a bit but still showing traces of illness. With the most sudden and hopeful gaze she stared outside the window. Due to the fact that her place was inconvenient to look outside, she intended to see the view standing up on her feet. Unfortunately, hands of her husband did not let her move.

‘Please, look at the window. Haven’t it rained recently?’

‘It haven’t rained since you are in bed. Why are you asking?’

‘Honestly, I wish it was raining right now and we could go to collect mushrooms together. But I don’t know the reason. Give me a word, please, shall we go to the forest when I recover from illness?’

‘I promise you, darling. We will go as soon as you are well, but please, get over your illness as soon as possible. Your contemporary condition is the most unbelievable pain for me, darling’.

‘Why you are always being pessimistic, as I said you, I will never let you stay in this world alone. It is not my fate. Let us change the theme, I don’t know why but I am really eager to converse with you’.

Now for the first time a couple of loving hearts felt the initial sweetness of ecstatic moments after surviving prolonged days of misfortune and these moments seemed not to come to an end forever. While dreaming about endless delight a man always lets his painful breath out unintentionally; the whole world, especially, his lovely friends look very gorgeous to his eyes and at that time he will be ready to do anything for his friends.

Now the husband was staring at his wife with the same happy and positive gaze that he suddenly realized it was impossible to stop himself from expressing his feelings.

‘A conversation?’ he questioned holding her hands firmly. ‘Darling, if only you had known that not only conversing with you, but deserving your attention also is the biggest joy for me. Oh, if only you had known that, dear!’

He put palm of his woman on his chest as if he was intending to let her listen his heart beats. But woman pulled his hand back with a quick act as if she touched the fireplace and stared at him smiling mildly.

Eyes could not help looking at each other’s deepest sides and lovers smiled at the same time.

‘I know, even I know very well and every morning I thank God that I am not a blind one. Do you know why I do so? Because God had not deprived me to see you’.

‘Oh darling… We are extremely happy! Have you ever thought whether there are others who are as much contented as we are? If yes, how many of them exists? Very few or so many in quantity?’

‘To my mind, probably there are not any blissful couple except us’.

They both laughed with joy. Husband stared at somewhere so long. Those who had tasted the real happiness and those who had realized what a magic it is usually dwell in the same way: with a smile in their lips, staring at one particular point as if they are obliged to look at that side forever or like a thinker who aimed to reveal all the secrets hidden in that tiny area of room they gaze. In this period of staring, for sure, others’ opinions on happiness seem very interesting to them.

‘For you what is the happiness itself?’ he asked keeping on staring at the same point.

After a while he accidentally recognized what he had said, so he felt somehow embarrassed from his question.

‘You may consider that question as a ridiculous and childish one. But please, do not be shocked, do not be disappointed from me for giving you this kind of weary question. Simply this question came to my mind and I transformed it to my speech. You do not need to answer it’.

‘No, I answer with all my heart. The only thing surprised me is your embarrassment. Because this question should be asked from everyone. It is the greatest question in this world. I commended it a lot, sorry, now I have to answer to this properly. For me every breathe I take is happiness, my ability to cry, to laugh and to see is the great joy, and in general, my existence is happiness. Everything related to me in this world is delight. Breathing in the fresh air, listening to the song of birds, lying underneath the initial beams of sunlight, watching the flight of beautiful butterflies, smelling lovely perfume of flowers – all things I have mentioned is happiness, I even consider pain and sorrow as a type of joy’. Having finished her speech, woman looked at her partner who was analyzing his thought. At that moment she found herself eligible to repeat this question. ‘So, how would you answer it yourself?’

‘I can only state my answer in short. Your existence and your belonging to me is happiness. Right, I am madly devoted to you, darling. I adore you even though you hate me as you hated the most awful man in the world. Maybe my words seem very simple to you. But I want you to know this: you are second half of me. I cannot be perfect without you’.

Woman broke into laughter unintentionally.

‘You spoke like…’ she said and paused for a while. She understood that continuation of her words would harm her husband’s soul.

‘Like what?’ he asked seriously. His facial expression revealed that he was eager to hear the rest of her speech.

‘You spoke like a fake lover!’

Woman smiled sweetly. Her husband once looked at her and then he aimed his glaze at the window.

‘It is still cloudy…’ he said with a sick voice.

His spouse was still staring at him regretfully. Husband had already realized this, however he went on looking at the window intentionally.

‘Look at me’ said she. And he obeyed. ‘I let you down, I know…’ she held his hands and kissed them. ‘Sorry… Please, forgive me…’

He, as well, replied to his wife by holding her hands.

‘No, I am not upset with you. I never be sad because I am not allowed to be sad’ he smiled to prove his words. ‘Do you know, it was not your words, but my own behavior offended me. My attitude and ridiculous sample-like words seemed to you like an artificial one, so it is my own fault, not yourself. I cannot hide waves of feelings I have. I really want to express all the words I possess in my heart. I want to share all the joy and all the sorrow I have with you. Therefore, I reveal you my secrets’.

‘Forgive me for offending your soul, I am so sorry…’

‘No! Please do not say that feel sorry. I am not allowed to be angry with you. It is sin’. He kept a bit silence. ‘Do you know, God lavished us with a great joy. All we have to do is to deserve this joy and enjoy it. Now imagine, if you carry on quarreling and offending each other without any reason, if we do not stop asking for forgiveness, how God will again bless us?  He would be upset from our ungrateful attitude. I am afraid of this… I am afraid of living these happy days no more. I am worried that God might possibly retake what he gave us. If I tell you, I have read a book yesterday. The author of that book was a person who denied the God. A minute, please…’ he quickly stood up and took a book with red cover from the shelf. ‘It consisted of such frustrating things that I shocked while reading. Surely it is written by a murderer of happiness’ he started reading the lines which he highlighted before:

“I cannot spend all my life fearing of Great Creator who supposed to be able to deprive me from happiness I have. I would rather live unhappily or die. God wants us to live in fear. He is an egoist. The best way is to disobey his rules and to pass away” – ‘I cannot read more. These are words of a wicked person who teaches to quit bright side and leads people to the darkness. Can it be really true that people follow him and accept his thoughts?  Isn’t it a whole of malice, it is? How this person, whose words stink the smell of secularism and materialism, can be able to someone’s attitude towards the life. God will never punish those who are not grateful of their happiness. God is the most generous one. He only wants to give people all the best things because whoever in this world want to harm his or her own children? He will forgive all of our sins if we understand and feel sorry for what we have done. He will even forgive this atheist author, if he feels really sorry. The greatest sin is to criticize openhanded God. But why he does not understand this?!’

‘Can you give me that book, please?’ suddenly she said.

She took the book handed to her and looked for a while. Flipping through the pages she started to read some pieces of it. The more he read, the more sadness and horror appeared on her face… Having read the last page, she closed the book and whispered something. She passed the book to her husband and turning her head back, said: ‘Let it burn…’

Man gazed at her astonishing, but he did what he ordered: he threw the book away to the fire. It started to burn better. Then he looked back at her. The woman accidentally became apathetic to everything, it was difficult to know exactly where she was looking at or what she was thinking about.

‘What you asked for while whispering?’ he asked. ‘I hope you haven’t asked for the death of author’ he laughed.

Now, hearing this sudden question she gained her consciousness and glared at him seriously. Man felt embarrassed at his weird and unlucky joke.

‘How can you assume that? How do I dare to ask for someone’s death?’

‘No, I was only joking, sorry’.

‘You said that you were not allowed to be upset from me. This rule not only works for you, but also for me. Therefore, no need to say sorry. I asked… I asked from God to forgive this sinner. I think, we don’t have to hate these kind of people. Contrarily, we must feel sorry for them. How cannot you feel sorry for those who failed to find the right path? They resemble to the yellow autumn leaves. If an evening breeze blows a bit, they abandon their branches. The reason why they sink in the ocean of sins is that they have lack of patience and ambition’.

Painful silence filled the room. They both were sadly thinking about something. At first husband recognized that there was inconvenience and found it very annoying.

‘Why we are keeping silent. See, we are happy people. Sadness does not fit us. Why not we cheer up or remember something. Because we are not this kind of individuals. What is the difference between us and unhappy people if we carry on keeping silence?’

‘You are right. We got even much sadder. But these kind of people…’

‘Okay, please, let’s stop discussing them. Because they are not related to our life in any way. Why not we look back on any of our more delightful times which are wort to remember. There is no need to think about this kind of issues while we have lots of sweet memories, I think. On the other hand, the world is getting much darker and darker day by day. All we have to do is to burn and tear up this darkness conquering the world.

‘Yes’ she said smiling.

Her husband did all his best to find any worth-to-remember story they had. It did not take a long time. He found what he wanted but it was not a story they both took part in but he was very impatient to tell her something he had had in her mind for long time. Unfortunately, he had no suitable situation to retell it. Now it was the very right time he wanted so he took his wife’s hands in order to let his words out.

‘Actually, I was going to speak about the funniest moments we had. But now I want to tell you something I was dwelling on for a long period. Do you still remember once we made a trip to mountain? At that time something unknown happened and weather turned bad. So as to find a dry shelter we had climbed up to the shanty on the peak of mountain. A wrinkled old man with grey hair had welcomed us. Even though he was not extremely glad to have guests, he did not seem so sad as well from our visit. He invited us to drop in. He even gave us a cup of tea and to towel to dry ourselves and took his sit in front of fireplace and went on reading a book. While we were sipping tea and conversing with each other he had glanced at us so many times both secretly and openly. When we talked about something interesting, he also had smiled and I think, our conversation was more intriguing than book for him. In order to behave as a polite man, he was pretending himself as if he was not listening to our discussion, however my eyes had recognized it already. For some reason the old man sighed while listening to our nostalgic memories. He put the book and gazed at hearth for a long time. He light of the fire revealed that he was hiding his tear drops on his face. He was whimpering with no sound. (You hadn’t recognized it.) At that time, to be honest, I felt very unusually embarrassed. I felt so sorry for an old man that… I contemplated that my future will duplicate this old man’s fate. Do you believe in seeing one’s future or past on another one’s life? I had seen… Then it ceased to rain. We abandoned his old house expressing our gratitude. I overthought about him. But I had not searched for him until I knew that I had to see him again. I had revisited that are to find him and investigated everywhere we stepped on. Unfortunately, I could find neither him nor his shanty. I don’t know why, but I wanted to tell you this…’ – he stared at somewhere for awhile – ‘I… I love you to death!’ As he was going to cry, put his face into the embrace of his wife, – ‘I… I…’ – he could not help himself stop crying, – ‘Why?... Why?’

Early drops of the tear appeared inside the woman’s eyes.   

‘It will never happen… Trust me, dear. Because I have told you…’

Suddenly thunderstorm broke out. Thick black clouds veiled the whole sky.

Woman hopefully looked at the window.

‘Look, my dear, it is raining…’

‘Yeah, it is raining’ he also stared hopefully.

They both glared at window for long, until it stopped raining. Despite they both were in tears they were trying to hide it from each other.

It was raining no more.

‘Can you help me stand up?’ she could not do it by herself so she asked for a help.

She went to the door counting on the shoulders of her helper. While walking she looked at her partner. He was trying to hide his eyes for some reason. His eyes were weeping. She paused for a while, wiped his eyes and smiled with sorrow. Then she took her basket.

‘Shall we go?’ she said happily.

‘Let’s go!’ her husband as well said in the same way, forgetting all the pains and tortures of his soul.

Laughing happily, they stepped into the wood spreading dewy petrichor.




Translated from Uzbek into English by Shokhrukh Usmonov

  About the author


Jumanazar Yuldash was born in 1997 in the Khiva district, Kharezm, Uzbekistan. He is an undergraduate student of Philology and Uzbek Language faculty at Urgench State University. His stories were published on the pages of national press. His works were included in several collection such as "Song of the Rivers" ("Jilgʻalar qoʻshigʻi"), "Common hearts" ("Mushtarak dillar"), "Garden of Creativity" ("Ijod gulshani"). He is a participant of the  Zaamin seminar (2018). Winner of the creative festival "Spring of Uzbekistan II” ("Oʻzbekiston bahori")  in Khiva in 2019. Author of the collection of short stories named "Petrichor" ("Yomgʻirdan soʻng").



Jumanazar Yuldash

Jumanazar Yuldash

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