Турусбек Мадылбай

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Turusbek MADILBAY (writer, translator; Kyrgyzstan) is the Editor of the online journal “The New Literature of Kyrgyzstan.”  Madilbay is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2008 Dobraya Lira International Prize for Best Tale, the 2006 International Russian Prize for the Best Novel, as well as a recipient of the American Award for outstanding work in promoting reading and cultural values, Soros Foundation prize.  His books include [The Sufferings of Young Berdi] (2008), [Phoenix] (2008), and [Wall] (1990); the documentary tales [They Always Came Together…] (2004) and [Coronet for the Noble Man] (2003); and the encyclopedia [Ketmen-Tobo] (2002-2014).  He has also translated works by Oscar Wilde, Alexandre Miln, Arthur Konan Doyl, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Guy de Maupassant, Paul Verlaine, Antione de Saint-Expury.

Turusbek Madilbay is awarded the title of honorary fellow in writing by the University of Iowa in the creative activities of the International Writing Program during the Fall semester 2010.



                                     Sólo queda el desierto…

                                                                        F. G. Lorca[1]





A hot desert wind.

It blows up in a squall, and a whirlwind carries away all,

that turns up on its way.

It, as a tornado, lifts a pillar of sand.

It, as a storm, suddenly, clouds all the sky by lustreless shroud,

And sun grows dim, shining as a reddish disk among brown haze.

The worst of it is the silence in the desert,

When for many feet around you there is not а soul to be seen:

Nothing is stirring, nothing is uttering a sound

To find somehow your bearings in an environment.

And you go in unknown obscurity;

Nothing shows you which way you are going.

Where is the south? Where is the north?

Whence you have left and where you go?

What waits for you ahead

And whether something waits for you in this infinite space at all?

Who needs you and whether somebody needs you in this silent uncertainty?

Whether to go forward, whether to come back –

Nothing foretells of any hope.

Whether you will tear the ground by nails

Or you will lie motionless, gazing on infinite blue height –

Nothing will change in this sublunar world.

And then you will cognize eternity …

I was walking in the desert and thought.

I thought much and continuously.

I thought how all suddenly has turned out in this way

that I find myself in the desert.

I thought how all is fairly arranged in this world:

Yesterday you banished the native father in this hot hell,

Today you have found yourself in the middle of shiny cold dunes.

Whether in this the validity of the Most High?

What you will give, that you will get back,

What you will do, that you will eat your fill,

What you will grant, by that the people will thank you certainly.

We are only creations of our own acts:

We make kindness, we receive good deeds,

We make evil, which on the rebound will reach ourselves without fail.

How much you have given, so much you have taken;

How much you have created, so much you reap.

Each of your steps is measured,

Each of your foods is already in the boiler:

Nothing will decrease, but nothing more you will take already.

You have the right all your due to eat at once,

But also you have the right to prolong your pleasure.

You have the right to run as a racer by this life, leaving a sparkling trace,

But also you have the right as the turtle to drag youself along

prolonging thus days.

You have the right to fly up high into the air, illuminating by your light all

that is below, on the ground,

But also you have the right to cut your wings to smoulder slowly

burning down as a dim fire.

You have the right to sing loudly, for all to hear your swan-song,

But you also have the right to wheeze out last damnations to mankind

a dissatisfaction with life.

We weigh exactly as much, as how much we give back.

We are the creators of our immortality and our own decay…

So I thought, stared in despair and grief at infinite, boundless distance.

All in this world is fair:

And the night comes in time,

And the morning comes without delay;

And the sun shines in the hot summer,

And severe cold brings the frosty winter;

And songs, that have been composed, sing,

And weeping at grief lament;

And a breast heaves stealthy sighs;

And hoarse plaints are heard at midnight;

And pigeons coo on the roof of a high house,

And the snake quietly makes its way on beams to their nestlings;

And the clocks strike, hurrying the people to hasten with work,

And the chimes beat off the night watch

And morning awakening from slumber;

And the ringing sound of bells is heard,

inviting idle people to an evening prayer,

And the strings sing plaintive songs;

And above all of it reigns the peace and silence

at the indispensable hour shuddering from roars of lightnings

and thunder-storms.

Such thoughts come not each day,

And not each day the people are driven into deserts,

That here, in impenetrable stillness, slowly,

in complete silence to recollect the life

And to think, as you lived:

Whether you acted correctly, and whether fairly judged;

Who was a friend to you, and who was an enemy to you;

Whom you loved, and whether you were dearly loved;

Who hated you, and whether you forgave your enemies;

Whether held you the memory of the dead,

and whether you keep in mind death;

Whether you have brought up your children to respect adults,

And whether you appreciated grey-bearded old men for your good deed;

Whether you was unfaithful to somebody,

and whether the friends and relatives betrayed you

that you could then forgive them;

Whether you sang to your son a lullaby,

And whether your relatives mourned over you when you left to fight;

Whether you was sad for your lost youth,

and whether you was pleased at the odoriferous freshness of morning;

Whether you worked in the sweat of your face

bent over raised worked ground,

And whether you ate the bread enjoying fruits of a horny hand;

Whether you defended the homeland, rearing up by a breast lathered horse,

And whether you rushed with the joyful tidings of a victory to your kinsman…

The sun was sinking below the horizon.

Today for the first time I met a sunset in the desert.

It is growing cold, and I even had firewood to kindle a fire.

It is one more property of desert:

In the day-time here stands intolerable heat,

At night the terrible cold penetrates the bones.

I sat at the edge:

In the distance howled jackals, but their howl was not terrible to me.

And I myself desired to howl;

Somewhere hard frost was cast, but I was not cold from it,

And in my soul it was cold from loneliness;

Around stood the awful darkness, but not from the darkness I was blind,

But from the comprehension of my own insanity.

You may hear and not hear,

You may see and not see,

You may behold and not understand.

And our blindness is not that we would like to see

but that we did not behold;

And our deafness is not that we would like to hear,

but that we did not hear;

And our muteness is not that we would like to tell,

but that we did not say;

And our weakness is not that we would like to make,

but that we did not accomplish.

And one thousand times we shall be sorry for being forgiven,

But what is made, is already made,

And what is created, cannot be overlooked.

So I sat and I was giving way to bitter meditations.

And nobody could help me in this world

Where everyone makes mistakes knowing that he will be forgiven,

Where everyone is ready to be deceived for himself is ready to deceive,

Where everyone commits sins knowing that he will be guilty all the same.

And having achieved the  top of greatness, you will be overthrown,

And having achieved all riches of this world, you will be a beggar,

For there is nobody more terrible than a mean-spirited…

So under the howl of jackals and the wail of the wind

I thought lying on cold unsteady sand, but not trying to fall asleep:

I was not thirsty for sleep, but meditations,

And if I did it earlier in a palace,

maybe, I should not ponder today in the desert.

The night has passed, has come one more day of sad thoughts.

I continued to sit silently and to examine distant bare country

where by red flowers were scattered not burnt out ephemeral plants,

And pherula and poppy blossomed in all power of sweet smell.

In narrow gullies here and there were seen poppies.

By bright spots green feather-grass showed,

And red phalanxes were mad from the inexhaustible heat,

not knowing where to put the surplus of their forces.

I sat carried away by sad meditations,

And I did not notice how from the nearest dune an easy wind drove the sand.

By small trickle as a golden snake it has run away

from the top down to the foot.

The yellowed clouds scudded low above the desert.

Dim shroud as if a curtain has closed in the distance.

The day grew dim, the sun grew dull and around all darkened.

The storm approached …



[1] There will be only a desert… F. G. Lorca