My delightful Sherofet apa (way to address an older sister) gave up her only bedroom to welcome me not only in her tiny apartment and also into her large life. On the weekend we traveled under the tunnel of death across the breathtaking Fan Mountains to Khodjand to visit her sister Salomet. The sisters do not clutter their rooms with furniture, but have plenty of comfortable mats and pillows for people to relax on. You can sit and eat on them and then make them into beds later. The area is famous for Lake Karakul, which is so enormous, that it is called the sea. As soon as we reached the shore the boys ran in, but the ladies just sat on the beach. This was the moment I was waiting for – to be able to revel in a long envigorating swim. But Sherofet apa was always scared of water. It was a great privilege that she trusted me to give her the first swimming lesson on floating, breathing… Sherofet enjoyed the new sensation although she never took of her long dress.
If I had to introduce apa Sherofet to you in one sentence, which would characterize her essence I would say she is somewhat of an angel on emergency call. The first call happened at breakfast. Sherofet turned pale and left the table in a hurry. The doctor, also one of the relatives, said that her daughter was in an intensive care . Six months pregnant Mehri had an emergency and her bleeding spleen had to be cut out in the middle of the night. Sherofet apa spend the day running errands between different city hospitals to round up some blood for a transfusion. Needless to say the heat of the day was oppressive. Sherofet cooked a clear meat broth for her daughter to drink as a first thing after operation. When we received the good news that Mehri was transferred to a room, we visited her with her two little sons and a huge watermelon. There were 6 patients to a room, so it was a sort of a communal event. When Mehri was released Sherofet apa got another call this time from her 80 year old aunt from the village. Her aunt felt sick and discouraged and asked to see Sherofet. It turned out she was fasting and became weak as a result of it, but the hearty visit cheered her up. And then an old diabetic neighbor requested Sherofet to come. She was also recovering after an operation in her apartment and her relatives were sitting all around her, but she missed her caring neighbor most. Although not in clear mind she did respond happily to Sherofet and was urging her to eat all what was there.
Right now Sherofet , Salim and Salomet went to Rigor for Iftar, which also marks a year of the death of their middle sister. I am staying with Madina, who is 21, so she would not be lonely. Sherofet thinks that not leaving anyone alone is a clear mark of Uzbek/Tajik culture. It is the eastern togetherness, which sets it apart from the western ways.
By: Galina Wood
Program: Eurasian Regional Language Program
Term: Summer 2014