And then I saw an elderly lady who looked like she came from a village. She was selling old things which looked useless to me, but something caught my eye. It was a doll - a handmade doll, very primitive, with a lovely face and many plaids - a traditional hair style for Uzbek girls.
My heart was broken. The lady saw I was hesitating and said: 'This was mine. Many years ago my own Grandmother made it for me. Then I grew up, got married and took it with me to my husband's home. I wanted to give it to my daughter, but I only had sons. And now my granddaughters would not play with it - they say it is for poor children. They only want toys from stores. I would prefer if you could buy it and take home with you; I do not want to throw it away'.
I was toying with the doll when I saw something interesting - a little piece of embroidery showing from under the old clothes she was offering. I dug it out and gasped.
It was the loveliest, prettiest, most wonderful girl's hat I have ever seen. How can I describe it? I am at a loss for words... so I will try to be specific first.
It was a traditional scull cap or hat called dupi (Russians living in Uzbekistan call it tubeteika). These hats fold flat and can be stored easily. Girls and women wear them with traditional clothes.
This particular dupi was made for a very small girl, possibly 3 or 4 years old, of navy velvet all covered with the most beautiful embroidery. It belonged to this lady when she was a child, and then she kept it in her chest with that doll for all these years. And now I cannot write anymore. I just have to show it.
It might be funny but I almost cried when I saw it. It is so lovely and so touching, this little hat that was owned by the woman sitting in front of me, when she was a little girl, many years ago. Now she is old - our women in rural areas live a hard life - and the hat is still beautiful... Of course I took it home, along with the doll. I paid her more than she asked for and left quickly, as I did not want to start crying right there.
And here I shall stop. The things are mine now and are not going anywhere.