Archive for July 1, 2008

“A Taste of Warmth” by Irina

The following is another narrative story written by one of my students named Irina. Nothing has been editted and she gave a short vocabulary list at the end if you don’t know some of the words.

A Taste of Warmth

This story happened to a little Korean boy at the end of 1930s. His family like many others just arrived and began the fight with harsh Kazakhstan conditions. The boy helped a kolkhoz shepherd but unfortunately had lost a calf.

He was going through the desert for a long time; cold winter played everything around.  All his clothes were a big jacket with a lasher as a belt. He was barefooted, but the boy didn’t feel either rocks or barbs, just hunger. As much as he remembered himself he wanted to eat, but those day the feeling was stronger than usual.

He had eaten a handful of rice two days ago! He was plodding along without the purpose, but was going forward stubbornly, not knowing what would wait for him. He was alone in this world. One kept silent about his father, he didn’t know anything about his mother, too. There was an elder sister, but she lived in another family in a distant village. He lived in the relative’s family, who had a lot of own children. The boy was treated well, but without particular warmth. He didn’t already remember his mom’s affection or father’s warm hand, their images had erased.

The wind fell. Smog smelled. The boy felt how much he was frozen. He began to look for a warm place. His eyes saw a yurta in a distance with a fire nearby. The boy was so hungry! He thought of the breakfast and a taste of unfamiliar Russian bread brought by the uncle from the rayoncenter. The little boy hadn’t liked its unusual taste and color, but now he was ready to eat anything. Dogs began to bark feeling a stranger but the poor boy was going forward. He had never seen such big dogs. The boy was frightened; he dropped on the earth and began to cry. He cried for a long time not seeing the dogs were driven away, he didn’t remember one had lifted him. The kid was crying without sound. His soul seemed to cry, his childish soul, met so much troubles.

Finally the boy stopped to cry. The man touched his face; the little boy raised his head and saw ten pairs of eyes, as black and slanting as his own, gazed at him. He was calm down. Suddenly the man went out and said something loudly in a foreign language to a woman.

The woman entered the yurta with a samovar. The children began to make noise, trying to take a convenient pose around a small table. They pushed each other and giggled, glancing at the boy. On entering the man shouted slightly at the children and they were calm down. The man went to the little boy but he didn’t understand the host obviously. The man said something to the wife. The kid, heard incorrectly pronounced “karis”, raised his eyes at the man. The host called the child by gesture. The little hungry boy was eating unfamiliar food. Its taste was extraordinary. It was not like either the aunt’s food or the taste of Russian bread. There were no meat and sweets, but it was the richest meal he could imagine. There was no heavy silent like at the uncle’s home, here the children could push each other, give a pinch, sip hot slightly sweet water that smelled smog. The man just smiled at him. He didn’t notice him to asleep, holding a piece of bread in the hand.

Next morning the woman put something into the pocket of the child’s jacket, smiled at him and touched his hand. The man, taking the boy behind himself on the hoarse, went to the Korean village. 

The boy smiled in his dream. He awaked near to the village. The man stopped the hoarse, came up to an old Korean and pointed out the boy. The old man nodded.

Seating inside the mud hut, the boy tool out two round pieces: one, white and with an acid taste, was rocky like cracker, the other one was brown, oil, looked like bread but had another taste.

Time has erased names, faces, but he still can’t remember the taste of that baursak, made of dark flower. The taste of warmth, home-fire and large kindness.

I used some Russian and Kazakh word in the essay, such as
– yurta (traditional nomad’s house that is easy to put together)
– samovar (a russian invention to boil water for tea)
– baursak (kazakh fried piece of dough)

– kolkhoz – collective farm
– “karis” (an incorrect word “korean” in Russian and Kazakh)


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