The Friend Who Had Introduced a Foe

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Annotation. This article was published in Uzbek in 2004 in the newspaper
“O`zbekiston adabiyoti va san’ati” (The Literature and Art of Uzbekistan). The
article compares the images of Otabek and Master Alim in the novel “The Days Gone
By” by Uzbek writer Abdulla Qodiriy. The importance of these images in expressing
the novel’s artistic philosophy and the writer’s concept of the epoch is revealed. The
author of the article substantiates the fact that A. Qodiriy, observing the changes in
the Uzbek society in the beginning of the XX century, came to the conclusion that
both types of people, such as the new thinker, who relies on his own mind, will, and
strength as well as the old thinker, who remains on the conservative position, are
There has been expressed a lot of ideas about the story of Master Alim, which
is included in the novel “The Days Gone By”. In general, there is no doubt that the
image of the Master Alim plays an important role in the development of the plot,
providing the logical connection of its parts, and in presenting the symbol of “friend”
intrinsic to folklore and classical epic tradition. We are more interested in another
issue – in the role of this image, which was drawn with special accuracy by such a
thinker as A.Qodiriy, in expressing the novel’s artistic philosophy and the writer’s
concept of the epoch…
A.Qodiriy, due to the nature of his creative style and personal character traits,
differs significantly from, for example, Cholpon or Fitrat. If we take into account that
Cholpon and Fitrat were engaged in active social life until the mid-20s, and
A.Qodiriy, who, first of all, was not as active as they were, soon completely withdrew
from it, this difference becomes obvious. What we are trying to say is that, while
Cholpon and Fitrat lived inside of the social process, the social process lived inside of
A.Qodiriy. The fact that in the early 20s he has already created such a work of art, as
“The Days Gone By”, proves that in the writer’s evolution the process of
transformation from the instructor to an artist began relatively early. A.Qodiriy by his
nature was not a “man of action”, but rather a “man of observation”, and only due to
this peculiarity of his personality his epoch became an aesthetic object for him also
relatively earlier than it did for others…
People born with an artistic gift (especially, observers) usually are more
conservative. Although the word “conservatism” gained a negative connotation
during the previous century of revolutions, in fact, conservatism in the best sense is
very important in development – it is focused on a careful comparison of old and
new, in taking actions considering all their positive and negative features, and thus in
moving forward gradually. In our opinion, Otabek, who is presented in the “The Days
Gone By” as a man of a new era, and the old type of man – the Master Alim – are
contrasted with each other. Of course, the existence of an internal contradiction does
not negate the strong external connection between them and does not prevent them to
become inseparable friends. For the contradiction we are referring to is the unity of
opposites related to the dialectical concept.
Jadidism, in a certain sense, was also materialism. At least, we can find the
traces of materialism in the ideas that a person can change the society, and that by
improving people it is possible to make changes in society, or in such views encoded
in the interpretations of the images of Muhammadiyor (Cholpon) and Olimjon
(Hamza) as the person creates his fate on his own. Yes, the conditions that emerged
at the beginning of the last century changed the status of the individual in society,
making him active in social and economical aspects, and brought out people who
started to think, as it was mentioned above, in a new way. These people felt deeply
that in the changing social environment, an individual started to get more and more
tied to his place in society, to his living conditions, his future, and, moreover, to
himself – his own intellect, mind and will, to his entrepreneurship, and efficiency,
which led to a change in the way of thinking. Otabek in the interpretation of
A.Qodyriy can be seen as one of the swallows (the early representatives) of people
with a new way of thinking. Otabek is a person who longs for innovation and change,
the one, who dreams of making changes. On the contrary, the life style as well as the
way of thinking of Master Alim is different: he does his daily work relying on God,
and his life is flowing by its course…
Undoubtedly, Otabek is a “young man worthy of the khan’s daughter”, that was
unanimously admitted by the meeting of his father’s friends in Margelan city, and
even Homid, who sees in Otabek a strong rival, also feels it deep in his heart,
although he does not openly admit it. Importantly, Otabek is a guy who knows his
worth, a guy who values himself highly. Therefore, although he said in a
conversation with Rahmat that “the husband should also be likeable to his wife”, in
reality it turned to be different from what he said: he did not ask his bride, if she likes
him or not – Kumush’s anguish before the wedding can be explained from this point.
Well, let’s put it as following: Hasanali hastened the course of events, arranging
matchmaking, and Otabek stayed unaware of it. However, there is another point that
supports our opinion: when after the successful matchmaking Hasanali congratulated
Otabek with coming wedding, the only question that disquieted Otabek was: “to
which of Kutidor’s daughters?”. True, he was confused for a while, but when he
found out that they were talking about a girl who was worthy of him, “there was not
clear from his expression if he is happy or sad. He did not object to the issue of
engagement, and he did not reveal the joy either”. We see that Otabek accepted the
news about his marriage to Kumush as granted, which is a sign of his high selfesteem
and self-confidence.
Interestingly, we encounter a similar situation in the story of Master Alim.
However, for Master Alim, Saodat is a miracle, a wonderful miracle of the Creator.
For this reason for a long time, he does not dare to ask Saodat for marriage, saying: “I
could not imagine such a happiness for myself, as marrying to Saodat”. The fragment
of the story, when Master Alim was waiting for the matchmaker to come out from
Saodat’s house, confirms it: “I could not calm down: could not work, could not stay
in one place, now standing here and then sitting there, with different thought in my
mind I felt as I was demented… several times I walked close to Saodat’s door, my
heart dropped and pulled me back as I saw the matchmaker coming out, so I just
walked away, because it was unbearable to meet him and to face the truth”. After
getting a happy message, he says: “I was not ashamed of tears fulled my eyes”.
Unlike Otabek, Master Alim accept his marriage to Saodat as a will of Allah, and his
eyes full of tears are sign of gratitude.
It is noteworthy that Otabek, hearing the story of the Master Alim,
involuntarily begins to compare himself with the host, which, in our opinion, is a
signal the writer sent to us, his invitation to compare these images. Let’s compare.
Master Alim’s story astonished the guest so much that he “could not stop looking at
this love incarnation, that was lying on the floor in front of him. Not in the past of the
master, but in his status, he saw a great meaning”. Even in his future he could not
find anything but emptiness, he still felt another great meaning. So, what is that
looked like “an emptiness” and still making “another great meaning” future of the
Master, in whose status Otabek could see “some great meaning”? The answer is in
the last words of the Master Alim: “Now I am thinking only of arranging a marriage
for my brother-in-law and then… then entering with a light heart in the Saodat’s
embrace…” We believe, that this sentence carries two different meanings. On the
surface, Master Alim dreams of fulfilling his duties in this world and on the Day of
Judgment with light heart meet his late wife – Saodat. On the bottom there are – and
perhaps this is even more important for the writer – the ideas related to Eastern
philosophy, such as: the happiness of the mortal world is as transient as it is, and a
person can achieve eternal happiness only if he sincerely performs the tasks assigned
to him. Note: Master Alim does not say “to die”, he does not say “to hand over the
soul” – he says “to enter into the embrace of Saodat (the name of his late wife means
“Happiness”)”. Only a person who understands the happiness he enjoyed in the
mortal world as the grace of Allah and hopes for his share of happiness in the eternal
world can think this way. Perhaps this is why in his letter Qanoatshah says, “Otabek
was martyred in our first front line along with another man”, and even nowhere the
name of Master Alim was mentioned, no one doubts that this “another man” is
Master Alim. Since, for Master Alim, this is another step on the path to the eternal
“embrace of his happiness”…
We got distracted of our topic. If we return to the Otabek’s observations, we
see that Otabek wants to “see his own future similar to this Master’s one” but it is lack
of only one word: ‘dead’. However, after careful thinking, he realized that even by
adding this word “dead” to his own story, it will be still hard for him to become
Master Alim. So what does prevent it? Otabek’s comment is as follows: “He was
scolded and thrown away by Kumush. While, master Alim has not been insulted or
abandoned by Saodat, he was not chased away as a beast by his father-in-law… and
his father-in-law did not set a trap for him and did not intend to take Saodat out, that
is, devilish did not intervene into their life…”. It is true that devilish intervened into
Otabek’s life. However, it is noteworthy that the words “devilish” is understood in
three different meanings – one for Otabek, another one for the reader and the third
one for the writer. Naturally, for the reader, who is following the plot, the devilish
means Homid and his companions. Unaware of Homid’s tricks, Otabek believes that
his father-in-law’s heart is obsessed: that’s why he agreed to Otabek’s second
marriage and gave his parents hand in arranging it. So, what about the author, what
content does he load on that word? The writer states about the protagonist’s
conclusion that “the last thought he constructed without thinking, out of inspiration
only.” In other words, the author says that the idea that settled in Otabek’s mind and
did not leave until the secret was revealed is “fabricated”. In other words, the devilish
first of all captured Otabek’s imagination. So why did such a smart young man as
Otabek succumb to the devilish? The reason for this is again his high self-esteem and
high self-confidence. Banished by his father-in-law – Kutidor, Otabek was hurt
deeply, his soul suffered and thus opened his mind palace to the devilish. The writer
says that the heart of Otabek, who was humiliated beyond beliefs “was as empty as
the nest of sparrow, whose children has flown away”. True, his love for Kumush had
not disappeared, but his aching soul had completely tormented him – paralyzed him.
Later, the wise Kumushbibi writes in her letter, “I understood on my own way, why
you have been coming to Margelan for two years, but I think, I guessed correctly: all
your hardships were to get revenge on your foes. Otherwise you would come to see
me…”, and she is partly right. We say partly, because the desire to take revenge on
his enemies arose in Otabek only in the last days of his two-year wanderings, after he
recognized his enemy. However, Kumush is close to the truth: after all, Otabek did
not seek to meet her and to clarify their relationship troubles. So what was the point
of his wandering around for two years? It is no coincidence that this question
surprises not only Kumush, but also Mirzakarim Kutidor and Yusufbek Hadji.
Well, “the secret was revealed”, Otabek took revenge on his enemies, and, as
Master Alim puts it, “gave them properly what they deserved.” Look at the game of
destiny: it made Otabek a friend of Master Alim, and through Master Alim
introduced him his enemy. So, did Otabek draw the appropriate conclusions from
this? In our opinion, no, he did not. In everything that has happened he still does not
see the hand of fate, but puts himself and his actions ahead. While conveying a
relieving message of the deliverance to Kutidor (when Otabek killed the criminals),
Master Alim assures him: “These all are matter of fate, uncle, you and I – we have
nothing to do with it in the meantime.” When Kutidor expresses his rightful surprise
by saying: “If he was upset with me, he could send some middlemen to solve it. Why
did not he do it?”, Master Alim delivers him Otabek’s humble question: “Would the
person who did not believe myself trust anyone who would speak for me?”. To his
fathers question: “Why did not you inform me about all of this for such a long time?”,
Otabek answered: “It did not seem properly to ask for help from my friends who put
me into this maelstrom.” Note: In both cases, Otabek’s “I” comes forward,
demonstrating his strong ego. One instinctively wonders: What was, after all, more
important for Otabek: to resolve the problem or to satisfy his aching soul? It seems
difficult to provide a clear and firm answer to this question. The reason is that Otabek
was hurt so much, that, as Master Alim mentioned, he was even ready to give up with
his beloved wife just because she was a daughter of the Kutidor. By coincidence,
Otabek recognized his enemy, he also got his chance to unravel the knot tied up by
“the devilish” on the way that satisfied his wounded ego. That feeling of satisfaction
can be seen in the words “your banished son” he used to sign the letter to his fatherin-
law Kutidor, as well as in the core of details he put in his letter addressed to
There is a part of purpose in providing similar tragic finale for the love stories
of both characters. That gives us a right to see here a comparison and an invitation to
compare. Master Alim saw his marriage to Saodat as a grace of Allah, and when he
lost her, he suffered endlessly, and tears flowed from his eyes. Could he resist to
divine destiny? No, he could not. He accepted it. He lived with “some great meaning”
in his status, keeping enormous sorrow in his heart, dreaming of “entering the
embrace of Saodat” in the afterlife. That is the reason why his suffering elevates him,
his tears purify and his sorrow is filled with light. Otabek did not accept happiness of
marrying to Kumush as a gift of destiny, consequently he did not see a hand of fate in
his loss. He also carries his share of suffering in his soul, but it lacks of light, since it
is replaced in his heart by bitterness, malice and hatred. That is why “when Kutidor
after saying farewell got into the carriage, from the street side Otabek came. He
grabbed the reins of the horse, and said to Hasanali, who was sitting on it going to
ride: “Get off the horse!” Hasanali dismounted. Otabek jumped on the horse and
asked Kutidor:
– Shall we go?..” He left and returned to Tashkent only in a year, “his parents
could not dare to resent him. Neither to father nor to mother he talked openly. After
that he never came back to Tashkent, several times Uzbek-ayim herself visited them
in Margelan…”. So, who was his anger addressed to? Who was the subject for his
malice? His parents or his fate? How could such a rancour and resentment grow in
the heart of the slave of Forgiving Allah? Isn’t it the breath of the devilish echoing
here? While punching HIMSELF by one end of stick, the one who holds the stick has
to expect a strike from another end of the same stick.
At the beginning of our speech we said that the story of Master Alim is
important in expressing the writer’s concept of the epoch. A. Qodiriy, observing the
changes in his time and in people of his time, considered both the new-thinking man,
who believed in his intellect and power, as well as the old-thinking man, to be
imperfect. Presenting them as two of a kind, he made them inseparable – soul-mates
with similar fate, and in the end put them “on the front line of the battle”. This is
conservatism in a good sense. Close to the end of the previous century we have
witnessed the spiritual breakdown of the people, who chose to worship a man and the
people, creating the cult of personality (Stalin) and the party (Communistic). Their
ruined hearts with such an emptiness “as the nest of sparrow, whose children has
flown away” soon were filled up by hatred and protest. From that point, it feels like
the inclusion of the Master Alim’s story in the novel was a prophecy, an expression
of a truth, a message inputted into great artist’s mind by the divine providence.
Dilmurod Kuronov. (2004). The Friend Who Had Introduced a Foe.
O`zbekiston adabiyoti va san’ati.