October 9, 2010
Healing Osh: journal of pain and hope
My beloved and healing Osh: journal of pain and hope
I arrive in Osh on airport on September 27. At the meeting gate many taxi drivers look at me with hope for their service. My father waits for me. My lovely parents find me over a crowd; Father kisses my forehead. My charming mother smiles. Ellder brother takes my luggage and we head to the car.
Last time I was in Osh on April 6, just before April 7 events. Osh was calm, peaceful , steady and modern. I sat with my company until 1 am at night in a café. No problem with safety, taxi, street lights.
At the airport I could not see Uzbek taxi drivers. On the road to home, I ask my mother whether she noticed any. She says no.Father said that I would be astonished to see the destroyed parts of Osh…..But mother says not to hurry with that, but go home instead.
At home my brother’s wife and his sweetest son meet me. I see my nephew for the first time. The 4 months old boy, with deeply innocent look andcharm. Heart melts, so fresh to this world! We eat Osh plov with garlic and Uzgen rice cooked by kelin, and enjoy our re-union. My other two cousins come over from another house. My little presents of candies and clothes make their world so eventful and colorful and impressive. They forget about me and go comparing whose thing is better and interesting. How real and sweet beings little humans are! So direct, honest, able to shout and laugh, fight and giggle!
Next morning I join my father to go to his bus driving to Karasu big market. It is a big market of Chinese goods, similar to Dordoi in Bishkek. Father makes some 4-5 drives a day. Former military man, he is disciplined. On the road, I engage in talks with passengers. We see an advertisement on the road of Atajurt Party. I ask whether AtaJurt really can save people. A man and a woman inside get emotional and supportive of AtaJurt.
They say that this party has real men and will make them happy. I provocate them and show to the next reclama on road, of Ata Meken Party. They become furious and the woman almost shouts at me. She says leader of Ata meken Tekebaev was behind the Osh conflict. She even goes to say that Bishkek, president is guilty for the Osh conflicts and for April. I provocated them and comment I don’t like Atajurt, but Ata meken. The women claim they know the truth in Osh, and I am nothing. A big woman with short black hair looks rather determined, aggressive in her tone, and unfair. Other women in the back seat get in the conversation and say they support Party Respublica. They got off at the market with little desire to speak to us, leaving the payment reluctantly.
We return to Osh. In the town I drive through the parts of destroyed Osh. When I try to take in photos along the Navoi street, populated by ethnic Uzbeks, father says it makes no sense: houses are too many, can not capture the scale…. Near collapsed, burnt houses I see new pile of fresh bricks. People are erecting new houses. They say UNHCR gave bricks so they can get into houses before winter sets in. Piles of trash from destruction are collected towards the road edges.
In this sunny September along the dusty roads I feel like driving through roads of Afghanistan, like scenes Americans come to some African country about humanitarian aid, from their civilized New York type homes.
Other parts of osh are fine. Area of Aravansky and Russian Consulate are safe and sound. Just 200 hundred meters away from destroyed parts you see civilization! the long panorama street of Osh. I try to see some stability. Yet, we go again to the road to Alay, near district of Furqat. All the nice restaurants I remember from my childhood are now destroyed. They were part of a big town for me. Now skeletons of iron stand in emptiness…
Next day I go to work affairs. We work with Uzbek and Kyrgyz journalists. At lunch my uzbek partners take me for real samsa. they say “there is no comfor, but it is really delicious”. It is an Uzbek area. By car we go through narrow and dusty zigzag roads. When we get there, It was only men, under roofed open air place, many ethnic Uzbek men are sitting and eating samsa over tables. The owners are making the shashlysk over fume. Some men look at my typical Kyrgyz face and they seem to say “What is she doing here, who is she?”. I want to say “See, I am here with Uzbek friend, trust me, I am good, came with peace, and I hope you do not do any harm to me’. Then I stop thinking about it and just enjoy sama and shaqarap with everyone.
My Uzbek friend says : “These men, who are eating samsa, where do you think they will go after? I am sure most of them will simply go home. They have no job….”…. Pause…. I am sad…. No job. …. Result of the conflict…. Result when one ethnic group dominates over another, because it was afraid that it could have been the other way round if they did not preempt it…..I can not say anything, I cannot give job. I am glad at least I could help my Uzbek friends get a job, along with the Kyrgyz ones. They have a job, they can bring money to their home and children….
In airplane back to Bishkek I sit near a man of around 50. An Uzbek man speaks Russian friendly and chats with me. He was in army in Czechoslovakia and there was no borders in Soviet Union. He went to Russian school. He was in Bishkek last time in 1994. His children left for Russia after the conflcit and like it there. He is glad to meet such a good person as me. We speak of politics, of Russia, Tajikistan, and how dangerous the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is, and we better start peace soonest, otherwise the IMU will take any opportunity and they are deadly dangerous since they are like kamikaze. We take good pause and agree. IMU is really at work?! When we land, we make cordial good bye.
Osh. We left this warm and delicious town. My home province, hit by an unthinkable nightmare. To which war happened. My lips can’t dare to pronounce this word. I come back to Bishkek, another country, another planet, in order to help Osh, the place of ash and chance!….