Sunday, October 09, 2005

My Last Free Weekend

Shavkat is just in heaven with his new car. Yesterday he went and put the car in his name and got new license plates. For the few moments he wasn’t in the car, he played jazz music from the car radio.

“I’ve gone all over the city today and I can barely notice any difference in the gas,” he said. “The car runs really well, so well.”

“Now Shavkat will never get upset because the gas will never end,” Nigora laughed.

The boys took advantage of it. Habib officially became a university student yesterday. He was running late for the ceremonies and again for the dinner. Both times he said, “Dad, I’m running late. Since the Tico doesn’t take any gas, could you drive me?”

“The children trap him with his own words,” Nigora said. “It’s tough to be a dad.”

Shavkat grumbled but was happy to have an excuse to drive somewhere.

As part of his induction ceremony as a student, Habib participated in a comedy route. Shavkat and Nigora were disappointed to not have been invited.

“There were only students there,” Habib said.

“But some of my friends were invited to their children’s events,” Shavkat complained.

“That’s a totally different event. Our jokes wouldn’t be funny to anyone except students.”

“You could have at least invited Faruh,” Nigora said quietly.

“There were no outsiders at all!” Habib insisted. I remained quiet but took his parents side. I would have also found it interesting to come.

Now that Habib had his party at the café (the famous 250 som expense), Nigora joked to me yesterday afternoon that finally he would be relieved from reminders of how much he spent. But at dinner, while Habib was still out, Shavkat brought it up again. As soon as he said 250 som, Nigora and I started laughing.

“We thought this would be the end for poor Habib,” Nigora said. “But you are still talking about it!”

He had been commented about the apple cobbler I’d made them for dessert from the buckets of apples they’d purchased on our last trip to Nookat.

“I was just saying,” he smiled, “that they spend 250 som and I bet they don’t eat like this. I can’t even imagine what they could spend 250 on.”

This morning the whole family sat out on the patio for breakfast. As usual, we sat crosslegged on mats on the floor.

“It will be so nice for you in Bishkek,” Nigora said. “You’ll be able to sit at a real table with chairs.”

I didn’t agree. In Bishkek I won’t have anyone to share my meals with. I won’t be able to look out at the ripening fruit on the quince tree in the courtyard, to see apples growing off another tree branch, to watch roses wither as the cold sets in. I won’t be able to sit in the cool fresh air, cupping a mug of hot tea, and relating the news of the tea. It will be clean and comfortable and sterile, but not interesting.

Nigora’s spy work paid off and is her niece is to be married. Unusually, she’s going to get married during Orozoo (Ramadan). The groom’s family doesn’t want to wait until after Ramadan, saying it will be too cold then. That means that they will just have a small, modest ceremony at home, inviting men on Monday and women on Tuesday.

“Because it’s being held in the home and there is not so much room, they can only invite a very specific number of people. It’s not like a typical Uzbek wedding.”

Shavkat said that doing it this way reduces expenses significantly.

I asked Nigora if they’d found out about the groom’s first wife.

“Of course, no one can no for sure. But people say that she is living with another man in Russia.”

“Has the groom filed for divorce?”

“He has submitted all the papers to court. But it can’t be done without her signature, next time she returns.”

“Did someone call her and tell her that he’s marrying?”

“I think so.”

It could be pretty unpleasant for the new wife to have the first wife suddenly show up and demand her place back.

“Is your niece excited?” I asked.

“Not especially. Because this isn’t love. He’s just an acquaintance. But still, she’s getting ready.”

Sounds a bit depressing to me.

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