Tuesday, December 25, 2012
A Christmas Story
I have relatives – a very ordinary Uzbek family, not rich at all. The father is a retired police officer, who worked as investigator for all his life; he was a person with ideals and principles and never had illegal incomes. For many years, he was building a house in the village where he was born – it took him about 20 years altogether, brick after brick – and completed it by the time of retirement. He married late and had three children; the elder son is in the army now, the youngest is in the school, and the daughter who is in between had just graduated from community college and works at a clothing factory. His wife works as a cook at the same factory. I would not call them poor, but they cannot afford any excesses. They have a farm, so they grow a lot of their own food, and there is also the father’s pension. However they are usually pressed for cash.
In the beginning of the winter, the girl asked her father to buy her a coat. She dreamed about it; all girls were wearing beautiful long wool coats, and she was wearing a jacket. After receiving pension, her father gave her 200 thousand Uzbek Soum (about US $65), saying: “Go to the bazaar, dear, and take a look. I do not know how much coats cost, but this is all I can give you now; if this is not enough, you will have to wait”.
The girl and two aunts of hers went to the city and wished they did not – they were so upset! All coats which looked more or less good started from 700 thousand Soum (about US $250) and up; the cheapest ones could be bought for about 300 thousand, but they were very ugly. Her budget would be sufficient for a jacket – not the most fashionable one – but she did not need it, anyway.
They searched the whole bazaar and did not find anything to fit into the budget. Her aunts would be glad to top up her budget but could not – their funds were very limited, too.
They were cold and upset, when they entered another shop with coats. There were some nice coats, but they were just as expensive. The elder women wanted to spend several minutes more in the warm shop, so they took a lovely car coat from a hanger and said: “Try it on, we will see what it looks like on you”. Two consultants immediately helped her to try the coat on and took her to the mirror.
This girl, slim and fragile, with a face of a beauty from a Persian miniature, looked stunning in this coat, which cost a fortune for her (about 650 thousand Soum). The sadness on her face, on the verge of tears, made her look vulnerable and even more beautiful.
There was a middle aged man sitting at the computer in a remote corner of the shop, who was watching her all that time. He stood up and came to her, saying in a broken Uzbek (because he was Turkish): “Daughter, this coat looks great on you! Buy it – you will not find a better one!”
The girl was choking, shaking her head and unable to speak; her eyes were full of tears. She mastered her voice at last and said: “No, thank you, I do not need a car coat; I wanted a long one”.
The owner of the shop said he had a long version of this coat and told the boys to fetch it and put it on the girl. This long coat was even more beautiful – and much more expensive.
“Take it, – he said, - You are the best person to own it. I will not let you go without it, I will give you a very good discount”. At this point the girl cried out, unable to speak, and then she managed to whisper, sobbing: “You will not give me such a big discount”. Then there was a river of tears.
“How much money do you have?”
“Just two hundred…”.
“Take it for two hundred – it is yours!".
The consultants whispered to him that she was talking about 200 thousand Soum, not 200 dollars (which would be about 550 thousand), but he snapped back: “I know that! I want her to have the coat!”.
The girl was crying even stronger now.
“Stop crying, girl, what is the matter? Here – I am taking your money – do not take your coat off, we will put your jacket in a bag! What are you crying about now?”
She said that she had spent 3 thousand from that money to pay for the commute. The man counted 15 thousand from the money she had just given him, gave it back to her and said: “They cook very nice kebab nearby; go and eat, then go home. I am fine with the remaining money”.
The girl was absolutely happy, and the whole family was crying listening to this story. We cried, too, when we heard it. This is what we call a Christmas story.