The waves, like unbridled horses, were rushing to the shore and after breaking against the rocks, were rolling back. Esmira was watching it and turning over the pages of her past. Even the hardest things of those days now seemed sweet to her. It was because her youth and her maiden dreams remained there, in those years.
There was a time when Esmira, in love with her native Shushi, Aghdam and Stepanakert1, came here only on a visit, while now the Caspian shore became her address. She lived in that city of winds, thinking about her native Karabakh, and did not know whether she would come back to her native land some day. Today also, she came to the Caspian Sea shore, holding the hands of her grandchildren.
The children were playing noisily on the sandy shore. Little Shaig left the children and ran up to her and said:
– Look there, granny! Look there! !
Esmira as if woke up from her sleep.
– Yes, Shaig. What's up?
– Look, granny, how beautiful it is! It looks like that someone hung a picture in the sky,- Shaig said, pointing his finger at the rainbow.
– Yes, it is beautiful. Go and play, – Esmira replied vacantly, remembering her youngest son, Ujal, and the first day of his life. She never forgot that day…
* * *
The sun was setting over Stepanakert and the shadows on the streets became longer and longer.
The streets of the town were full of people and the town seemed to be returning to life.
Hamid left work and told the chauffeur: «Go home and I will take a little walk.» He went down the steps, left the courtyard and walked downwards.
Passing by the booth of tinsmith Vartan, he turned to the right; several Armenian "dyghas2" were standing not far from him, arguing about something animatedly. They fell silent at the sight of Hamid.Horse cloth craftsman Ashot3 came out of the gate then.
– Come up, Hamid-kirva4. Why are you on foot?
– It's all right, Ashot. I just wanted to take a stroll and came to your street; I had not been here for a long time. I remember that there were dense orchards here when I was a child and I used to come here with the boys to eat fruits. Then your Armenians were resettled here, houses were built for them and the orchards were cut down5.
-Yes, kirva, I remember those days pretty well. We were resettled from Iran and your musurmans received us with open arms here. I will never forget it. Let's go to my place, kirva, I will treat you to a good wine, my son has brought fish from Sevan.
– Not Sevan, but Goycha6, Ashot.
– It makes no difference whether it is Sevan or Goycha, kirva, both are ours.
– There is a difference, Ashot. Goycha is the native land of my grandfathers and my ancestors gave it this name. Since when did it become Sevan?
– Don't take my words wrongly, kirva. These mean creatures are making an uproar, it is as if they want to unite with Armenia, that is why you are getting angry. Let me sacrifice myself to your children, kirva, I am just an illiterate and uneducated horse cloth craftsman and I used the word 'Sevan' offhand.
Hamid was thinking the whole way why Ashot spoke that way. That son of a bitch even did not say hi to him in the past. What happened now? Are they scared of me and my position?
Deep in these thoughts, Hamid did not notice how he reached the door of his apartment. He rang the doorbell. His neighbor's daughter opened the door.
– Where is madam Esmira?
He had not yet taken off his shoes when his wife's alarmed voice came from the room:
– Call a doctor quickly, Hamid, I feel bad.
His neighbor, Tukaz khanum, came out of the room at that moment:
– She has to be taken to hospital, sonny, the labor has begun, the baby may die!
Hamid calmly took the receiver and called the hospital, the medical vehicle arrived in about ten minutes and his wife was taken to maternity hospital. It was midnight. Hamid was still walking up and down at the hospital doors. Suddenly a nurse came up to Hamid:
– Let your eyes see light, muallim, you have a son.
– How is Esmira?
– ОShe is also well. Go home. You will come tomorrow.
Hamid went home, feeling happy. He was very happy. God did not give him brothers and sisters, but gave him three sons. How could he not be happy?
* * *
Morning came, the town was just warming up, the sky became clouded and it started raining. ТSuch rains were common here. The skies cleared soon and the sun flooded light over everything around. Esmira was watching this when she heard the voice of newly employed nurse Zayka, an Armenian:
-Esmira khanum7, I am bringing the baby to you, it is time to feed him.
With Zayka's help, Esmira rose from the bed and started feeding the baby with her breast. She looked at the baby attentively. Good lord, he resembled her so much. Esmira took her eyes off him, looked out of the window and saw rainbow. There was a quiet smile on her face; everything was beautiful in that morning – the town, the sun, the rainbow, the baby, the people …everything.
There was a nameplate on the baby's hand and she remembered that the baby had to be given a name on that day.
«should wait until Hamid comes and we will choose a good name for him»,- thought the happy mother.
She heard Zayka's gentle voice:
-Give me the baby, khanum, that's enough, the doctor does not allow baby's long stay with the mother during the first days.
The mother stretched out her hand and gave the baby to the nurse who passed to the next room and put the baby to one of the vacant beds.
Zayka was a nurse; she was admitted to work at the hospital a few days ago. Her interest in the surgical department was not accidental. It was a task by her father, a member of Armenian secret committee. The task was to get access to that department of the maternity hospital and poison non-Armenian newborns, mainly Turks, with chemicals. Undoubtedly, Zayka would cope with that task. According to her father, her mother, working in the same maternity hospital for many years, dispatched many Turkic children. Now Zayka was to continue her mother's job.
When it was time to feed the child, Zayka took the baby and walked towards the ward where Esmira stayed. Simultaneously, another nurse was carrying a newborn to the next ward where Haykanush8 was.
Esmira took the baby in her arms and looked at him closely:
– This is not my baby, Zayka!
– That cannot have happened. I will check it now, – Zayka replied and walked to the room where the newborns' beds were located.
Meanwhile, the baby Esmira was holding in her arms was crying. She did not wait until Zayka would be back and started feeding the baby with her breast. The baby hungrily pressed himself against her breast and calmed down. Less than a minute later, a heartrending cry came from the corridor:
– Take away this Turkish cub from here. Where is my baby?
On hearing these words, Esmira ran out to the corridor with the baby in her arms. It was Haykanush, who gave birth to a son on the same day as Esmira, who was shouting.
– I am holding your baby, sister, – Esmira said, approaching Haykanush.
Haykanush looked up, with stark terror in her eyes, and said:
– By my faith, I did not feed your baby with my breast milk. I beg you, tell me the truth. Did you feed my baby?
– Yes, I fed him. He was crying. There is nothing wrong with that.
On hearing this, Haykanush threw the baby into Zayka's arms, and, as if a great tragedy had happened, ran into the ward, crying. She said to Zayka:
– Take him away, he is damned, he drank Turkic milk. Oh my wretched baby! If Robert learns this, he will shoot me, you and this cub that drank dog's milk.
Zayka took Haykanush's words seriously. When she was still a child, every day her mother whispered to her ear that the Turks are her enemies9. She silently put the baby to the bed and left the ward.
Meanwhile, Haykanush did not calm down. On seeing Zayka, she became angry again, She flew at her and seized her hair, shouting:
– I will throttle you, you ruined my baby.
Zayka was not weak. She pushed away Haykanush and threw her down to the bed. Haykanush, feeling Zayka's strength and understanding that she cannot overcome her physically, resorted to cunning.
– She said, "Don't reproach me, sister. It's your fault that this cub drank damned Turkic milk. No matter how I educate him, he will hardly become Robert. Last night alone, my Robert kidnapped and burnt alive three Turkish children in Martakert.
Haykanush had no other way out. She understood that anyway, Robert would be told that his son had been fed with Turkic milk and he would take them to the country and kill both her and the baby noiselessly somewhere in the forest. The only way out was that she should kill her baby herself. But how could she do that as it was her own baby, born from her flesh? She decided to ask Zayka for help. Haykanush knew that she was a member of a secret Armenian committee and knew that she also mortally hated the Turks. However, she gave up that idea later. Her eyes flashed with anger.
* * *
It was one o'clock in the morning. Zayka was sitting talking to Suraya, doctor on duty. Zayka went to the kitchen to bring tea and when she came back, she saw Suraya fall asleep. She raised the dozing Suraya, took her to one of the wards, put her to bed and hurried to the surgical department where Fazil, a young Azerbaijani doctor, was waiting for her. By gaining confidence with his help, Zayka planned to get access to the medicines. They went into the room and closed the door.
Zayka came back to the delivery ward early in the morning. Doctor Suraya was not there. Shouts and crying were heard from the newborns room. She met the infuriated Suraya at the ward entrance:
– What have you done, bitch? Who is to answer for this nasty act? Where are you coming from? Are you in cahoots with Haykanush?
Zayka pushed away Suraya and went into the ward. The baby, who had turned blue, lay on a white sheet and Esmira was weeping over him:
– "It is my fault,- she repeated sobbing.
Zayka immediately understood who had killed the baby… Haykanush was standing at the wall in silence.
The chief physician came after a while and ordered to take all the newborns to another ward.
Supporting Esmira by her shoulders, Suraya repeated with trembling lips:
– Fancy that! What these khayasyzs10 are capable of!
* * *
The sun was setting slowly; dusk was falling over the Caspian Sea. The children noisily crowded near the car while taking their seats. The little grandson, Shaig, was looking closely into his granny's mournful eyes, as if trying to read her thoughts.