World Literature

The curse of the dragonflies – A short story from Uzbekistan

Mokhira Eshpulatova shares her story based on real events

The story of a woman who suffers a lot as at the young age she had caused death of beautiful dragonflies for her fondness of catching the fragile creatures

Mokhira Eshpulatova

Mokhira Eshpulatova is an Uzbek writer. She was born in Khatirchi district of Navoiy region, Republic of Uzbekistan on October 25, 1995. She graduated from Navoiy Pedagogical University. By profession she is a teacher of Uzbek language and literature.


The curse of the dragonflies

The lazy sun of March began to set on the horizon. Bashorat, who was watching the sun from the hospital window, sighed deeply. “It was dawn lately, now it’s getting dark. It rises again in the morning and sets again.  It will happen again and again, but without the warmth, without the hope” she thought. For the last few months, nights have become fearful for Bashorat. And in the nights spent alone she would have only one thought in mind – death. She never felt sorry about her life. Perhaps, this character was inherited from her mother. She was just worrying about her foetus which was growing day by day under her heart, waiting to come to earth safely. She had waited to have a baby for years. “This one should live, at least this one, otherwise I can’t tolerate anymore” she thought. Concerning about her sister’s health, Yorkinoy ran to the hospital empty-handed. She had been helping her sister with food, clothing, and other personal needs but she couldn’t do anything to stop her pain and inner fear which disturbing her sister most. The “outside world” brought the girls together, who had grown up quarreling and compromising each day. Like many sisters, they became more sincere after getting married.

“It’s time to injections,” said the nurse. Bashorat looked back from the window with her tired eyes.

– Again? She asked frowning as she remembers the pain of that bitter medicine.

“What do you mean? Your medical treatment has just started. You should take it three times a day till the birth of your baby.

“Hmmm,” she said, lying on side hardly. – Well, I can handle anything for hold my baby at last.

“Don’t worry, sister, everything will be OK,” said the nurse calmly.

“God bless, she said in a weak voice. Bashorat has heard many of such words of soothing. Hope comes when you are weak, but it becomes very strong and sturdy like camel thorn. Bashorat hoped again that all would be well.

“I haven’t seen your sister today,” said the nurse, spraying the medicine into the air from the syringe needle.

“She’ll come, you know, she has a family and kids too.”

The medicine was flown slowly, and Bashorat covered her head with a pillow and remained silent. “It’s noting, Bashorat, you’ll have much worse treatment than that too” she thought as she recalled the birth process.

The night had set, and Yorkinoy hurried in, asked about her as usual, and tried to cheer her up. She told the news she had found out here and there. For her sister’s sake, Bashorat pretended to listening to her sister attentively, giving her some questions and smiling at respond.

“I feel bad, my sister, I’m seeing my parents and my brother in my dreams.”

“What’s the matter, why bother?”  Yorkinoy asked a silly question, even though everything was as clear as crystal.

“How’s my brother?” He seemed worried. I don’t know, he said that he would come to see me. Maybe that’s why I’m dreaming of him a lot.

– Yes, he wanted to come. You know, there’s a lot to do. But he will come.

“He’ll come. If I don’t leave before he comes,” said Bashorat in a weak voice.

“Don’t talk like that, understand? – Said Yorkinoy in fear. – Everything will be fine, absolutely. God please, you will recover, and you will be able to hug your child safely. Please don’t scare me like that.

“God please” said Bashorat, looking out of the window at the sky. You mean, like, God wanted three kids to die without seeing the world, right?  After all, isn’t He kind? The worst pain in the world is losing your kid, why am I being given this misfortune again and again? – Bashorat was speaking continuously and she did not even know where this power came from. She felt like a bowl full of aches and pains. Every word of useless consolation was “shaking her bowl of patience”.

“Bashar, my dear sister, I know you’re very tired.  But don’t blame God, just be a little more patient, be strong,” said Yorkinoy. She took Bashorat’s hand, and cried too. Bashorat saw and felt it, but did not respond with a single movement. Her eyes were fixed on the sky, and the sky was black.

“Yorkinoy,” she said in a pleading voice, “Tell my brother to come. I really want to see him. I didn’t him want to see me in a situation like this,” she said, caressing her belly cautiously, “but, I’m afraid that…” she could not continue her speech. She decided not to speak about it because of sister’s earlier request.

“All right,” said Yorkinoy, swallowing. “I’ll tell him.”

That night, Bashorat’s condition worsened. But it was too early to give birth. There was a pain inside her like a cat’s scratching with its sharp claws, and her bones were like splitting from each-other. Bashorat was feeling the pain in her body, and her sister also felt pain, it was a pain deep in her heart. Yorkinoy was not screaming like her sister. She was crying silently. According to superstition, in order to make the process easier, a woman should see her husband before giving a birth to the child. But that was not possible in their situation, because Bashorat’s husband was abroad. So, Yorkinoy called her brother again. She was a little relieved to hear that his brother was on his way to the hospital. Bashorat’s pain stopped. She was given medicine to calm down, and with the help of that medicine she could talk to told Yorkinoy.

– My brother …

“He’s on way”

“You’re cheating on me like a child.”

“No, no, that’s right!  I talked to him a while ago, and they’ll be here by the morning.

“I’m afraid I won’t make it until morning.”

After those words Yorkinoy started to cry.

“Bashar doesn’t talk like that.  Don’t scare me. I have nobody to rely on but you. Be strong, my dear sister.”

“Let me talk to my brother!”

Yorkinoy dialed the phone numbers with her trembling hands. When she heard his brother’s voice from the other side, held it to the ears of Bashorat.

– Alo, aloo.

– Brother!

“Bashar, sister, how are you?  I’m on my way.”

“Brother,” she lost her words as her feelings were mingling with each other.

“What do you say, mommy?”

Bashorat, who missed her brother, kept her eyes closed, not knowing what to say at first, but after a word she sobbed and cried.

“Nothing- I really wanted to hear you say that.” Bashorat was barely audible, and her frequent, short breaths could be clearly heard through the phone.  Sanjar used to call Bashorat a “mommy”.

“Mommy you’re my sister, be strong.  We’ll remember these days with a smile, you’ll see” said her brother.

“Brother, I want to be your little sister again. How you cared for us…how you worried about us…

“You’re still my little sister. I can still protect you from any trouble.”

“Remember, you hit me once?” I loved catching dragonflies of different colors flying along the stream. And you…

“Bashoraaat,” said Sanjar, worried that her thoughts were distracted.

“And you,” she continued with a sigh, as if she could not hear his brother, “would not.”  You asked not to torture them. And I didn’t do what you said. Instead, I grabbed a lot of them and put a thin stick in their back so that they could fly freely, but not so far away from me. I loved watching them fly. They fluttered their wings, made a croaking noise and dropped dead. Little did I know that I was hurting the dragonflies by watching them dance. They also had a mother, didn’t they?


“Brother, I was cursed by those dragonflies.”

He did not understand what Bashorat was saying. She was talking obeying her emotions, not her mind.

“Mommy, mommy, don’t talk like that” said her brother, realizing this.

“Tell me brother call me “mommy” as before. I see our parents in my dreams.  They have a new doll in their arms, just like the one I took for my little girl, and they’re gesturing and saying: “Come on, it’s for you…”

“Mommy, sister, don’t frighten your brother.  I’ll go ahead.  I’ll give my niece some of the best toys, just be strong!”

The Bashorat was strong. Although she was in pain, she did not cry behind her brother. She was operated on when her condition worsened. Just after midnight, they called her brother, who was traveling at high speed on the highway.

– My sister.

“Brother,” a crying voice came through the phone.  Her voice echoed in the hallway or in an empty room.  Sanjar’s heart pounded. He slammed on the car’s brakes. The car left a trail on the asphalt road about 10 meters away and stopped loudly.  He was afraid to ask questions.  He tried his best to move his tongue to ask what had happened, but his heart sank at the possible answer.  Noticing this, Yorkinoy burst into tears.

“Brother, we have a niece, she is healthy, thank God… but my sister is not well. They took her to the intensive care unit, brother…  Tell me what to do, brother?” cried Yorkinoy.

“What to do?” This question was running through his mind. He always found a solution to everything. He has always found a way for his sisters, not only as a brother, but also as a parent, so why is he watching the loss of his sister like a flower?  Sanjar got out of the car. His sister was unconscious and cannot hear or speak. Now it can be a dream for him to see the eyes that are waiting for him.  He was staring at the sky, burning with painful thoughts. The weather was cold and the sky was cloudy.  Lightning flashed from everywhere in the sky, piercing the heart of the cloud, and in a moment when the lightning flashed, it disappeared again, showing for a second how dark the sky was. The only thing Sanjar could do when he was helpless was to put his trust in Allah.  It was a source of strength, a way, a comfort. He wrote on the side of the road, on the crevice of the thorn, which he had always carried with him, in order to offer his prayers, which he had lost on the way.  He performed tayammum with soil.  Then he began to pray in his usual but slightly trembling voice. When he opened his hands in prayer, his voice turned to a trembling cry.

“Oh Allah, You are the owner of all property – Malik al Mulk! You are the Hakim, the Salam, and of course the Musavvir. You make our bodies, souls and destinies beautiful!  If you want something and you say, “Become,” it becomes. There is a believer walking near you.  It is up to you whether she stays or leaves!  You’re Razzakh (Razaq), who doesn’t let anyone to leave this world before they are cut of their rizkhi (Rizq)! I ask you for the good end. After all, no one but you can give us goodness as much as you want. ”

… The doctors ran in all directions to save Bashorat. Yorkinoy sat at the door of the intensive care unit, squeezing her tear-stained handkerchief until dawn. She would whisper something sitting in her seat, and what she said was no different from his brother’s.

It was a beautiful morning.  Finally, they saw each other, and while the father was enjoying the news about a baby and sharing it with his colleagues from the distance, Bashorat sniffed the little baby in her arms. She stared out of the window. Spring had finally entered her heart.  The dragonflies also will appear soon.  They’ll start dancing beautifully in the river near their house… Bashorat will be still enjoying watching them with her daughter. But this time she will not touch them, she will not hurt their wings.


Story translated into English by Hilola Mirzayeva

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