My Streptocid boy

It was during my childhood and It was summer. We wandered throughout the country earning money. My father was magician, and my mother was his assistant. As far back as I can remember, I never attended school. My family traveled between villages of Azerbaijan. My father did different kinds of tricks, which amazed people in the countryside. Every time we came to a new town, he would put a white turban on his head, pin a nice crescent shaped broach to it. He always said that he had received the turban as a present from a rich man who lived in Turkey for treating his son. My parents always seemed to earn too little. There was only enough for 2 or 3 months of a poor life in Kirovabad, where we lived during the winter months. We didn’t live there constantly as then we started traveling again in the spring. Dad always had to be adroit and managed it perfectly well. I remember it just now as if it was yesterday. After our performances we would be invited to dinner by some of the more prosperous and hospitable villagers. Nobody thought of the nationalities. The human soul was the most important thing in the life. We ate foods that were fantastically tasty. Even now I think that Azerbaijan cuisine is the best one in the world. The food had the smell of smoke, because it was cooked on the fire in the back yard of the house. There was Sheep cheese, cream, homemade scones, and lastly but sometimes a chicken or a sheep for shashlik. The hostesses looked down demurely, with most part of their faces covered with veil. Women put down platters laden with food on the table then disappeared because it was not the custom to sit at table together with men. Men were drinking tea, dark and strong, telling absolutely fantastic, unreal stories. While talking, they would take a small piece of bread, kiss it, and with raised eyes, make an oath vowing that they were telling the truth. And if they told a lie let that bread strike them blind. While listening to them I was amazed, how could it happen. Their stories were poor in comparison with tales from my Dad. According to his stories he had been a participant of many interesting events around the world, cured ill people, and was able to save many influential people with the help of his advice. Before the beginning of his stories, he would give me a meaningful wink in silence. Early in the morning the hosts would give us heavy packages laden with food and we’d be on our way. Our clothes would be cleaned by the hostesses when we were sleeping. Shoes and boots were cleaned with onion juice. My Dad thanked them with a kind voice, said to them good words, promising them his hospitality if those people would visit our place. And as usual he gave the people a wrong address. It was done only because of our poor life. Among the tricks of Dad there was one with hens. Dad did magic with hens, and they did what Dad asked them. Hens could sleep, close eyes thoughtfully, clucked and so on. We borrowed hens from the local people and gave them tickets instead of money. Very often after the performance the owners of hens gave their hens-actors to us. And of course it meant a fine merry party with the hens as the stars of the evening. Sometimes it happened that we had to spend a night in a local club sleeping on the office tables. Once Mum arranged me a bed in the study of the accountant of the club It was actually on his night table too and then Mum ran away to help Dad in his work. I fell asleep quickly but soon woke up because of moonlight through the window. I could not guess where I was sleeping and began to touch everything around me on the table. Then I felt something unusual, smooth I decided to take it into hands and see carefully. Unfortunately it was an ink bottle, full of ink. My head, my dress, my face were covered with ink. Everybody was laughing at me, ink was so difficult to clean properly. I had no another dress and wore that green dress with a whimsical ink design for a long time.

In the morning we continued on our way. The roads were muddy, dusty, and bumpy, but they led to unknown places, to unknown people and to new adventures. In the fields under the hot sun women worked, gathering cotton, some of them had babies strapped to their backs. In a new village my father was not only a magician, but a healer as well. Local citizens came to Dad with their troubles carrying gifts and food. Father would take on a solemn look, shake his head, close eyes as if he were asking somebody fore advice. After that he spoke hurriedly about methods of treatment. People respected Dad, cheering him. Once a young couple came to Dad to ask for a help, because they did not have any children. Dad smiled mysteriously and advised them to go home and take a bath together, take a tablet of Streptocid and at night to work hard in order to have a baby, and assured them of success. So the couple left gifts on the table and left the house.

In two years, when we came to that locality again, the people who met us were unusually kind and warm. After the concert someone sent a car for us, the driver of the car said that we would remember that evening for a long time. What happened, we wondered. Soon we arrived to a house. A wonderful garden full of fruit trees and laid tables was waiting for us. The master of the house, a man of 30 with a black mustache met us with happy shouts, his relatives joined him in the celebration. Dad was asked to take a seat next to the Master of the house. The young man’s father smiled endlessly. Everybody was dressed nicely, there was a smell of perfume, Red Moscow was the scent. The master turned to my Dad and declared quietly, «So I must let you know of the fact that you had presented me a son.» Dad was frightened then, of course. He was at a loss, because he loved women very much, he could not understand, what son they spoke about, and then for what reason the people had spread the table so elegantly. The young Master gave a signal and a nice looking boy, that was crying and about a year old was brought into the garden. This is your Streptocid boy…At last my Dad understood everything: A young couple followed his advice a year ago and the wife became pregnant. They had conceived a baby. That was the reason for the celebration.

But soon our joy disappeared. It was high time to move farther on down the road to new adventurers. It was a pity to part with such nice friendly people.

After returning home to Kirovabad Dad liked to tell his favorite story about his Streptocid boy. This time it was a pleasure to think that the story was the most real one from the beginning to the end.

© 2008 Лоретта Оганезова

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