For the defence of Moscow by heroically Azerbaijani sniper Ziba Ganiyeva and all Great Patriotic War participants with dignity…
— Nadejda Alexandrovna’s scream forced me to wake up and without understanding what happened, I spontaneously answered:
— I’m always ready!
What really happened?
Perhaps, nobody could understand me now at the lesson of Soviet literature. I kept silent and only pull down my hand.
— Ziba, what happened?
The teacher patiently and slowly stepped toward my desk and she stopped opposite me. I wanted to stand up again, but she carefully pulled down her hand on my shoulder and continued:
— Sit down, sit down. Don’t you listen to me?
Actually I heard nothing. She was totally right. I even didn’t think about answering her question. My shoulder was just got creeps all over again. I started breathing faster and faster. As my father said, shoulder was one of the most important parts of the sniper’s body, especially if she was woman. The safe haven for stock weapon, — which is always ready to support. Creeps were still running on me, and my fingers couldn’t stop caressing my hand. Smell of powder enveloped my imagination. Arif, sitting next to me couldn’t take his eyes off me. His gentle gaze returned me from dreams.
— Yes, Nadejda Alexandrovna, — finally I could answer.
— Then repeat, what I just said, — teacher asked, thinking about checking me.
— That war was fair, which was inevitable, — I repeated.
As you have probably guesses I heard nothing from teacher’s story. But decided to tell something than to keep my mouth shut, and then looked at her so surprised. I was just lucky. I knew by heart one of her favorite using expressions. Nadejda Alexsandrovna liked uttering this phrase, staring at class and suddenly asked somebody just in a case, to be sure, that everybody listen to her. In this time I was her intelligence’s “victim”.
Silence has fallen over the class, although that a few minutes ago waves of laughter were sweeping through my strange activities.
While mom was at the kitchen, preparing dinner, I went up quickly to the attic. Carefully touching a little bale of hay, I found my father’s gun. Surprisingly, but my hands weren’t trembling. Ahh… how arrogantly my index finger kept on the trigger!
Suddenly I’d noticed brown spot size of as 20 coins on the gun barrel. I became totally mad how could it happen? How did it could get rusty?! I dusted “my lovely friend” every week, smeared oil and kept it as the apple of my eyes. It was the only thing which had been left since dad’s demise. I even gave him nickname “Fearless”. I came down quickly when my mom called.
— Fearless, I’ll be back and tie off your wound, — I kissed gun barrel with whispering.
I was having dinner without appetite, because all my thoughts were near his “wound”. Is it possible to peel the stain and cover with nail polish?
In those years, with which I started my story, almost all classmates fall in love and split up. Probably, many of them interpreted me like child — walking around with my head in the cloud. But it was absolutely uninteresting for me. While we were at graduating class, nine of my classmates almost didn’t attend school. Two of them run away with their lovers. (I couldn’t keep my laughing when I remembered how they had been found and returned to school). They’ve been informed to bear with a little. The others get engaged and after a few months were preparing to wedding. Only four of us: I, Sveta and Gulnaz, who sat side by side at the back of the class and also Nadejda Alexandrovna — didn’t have lovely. I forgot to tell you that our teacher was very beautiful blonde woman with long curly hair. Her beloved died in a war last year — in December 1941 — while occupying the Moscow near the village Pustinka.
Past two months we graduated school. Despite being unappealing girl, Sveta immediately got engaged after graduation. Her fiancé was handsome young man. But Gulnaz was still waiting her prince on a white horse.
The days quickly passed by. After final exam our school life will be over. I was preparing very seriously to all my exams, and it made my mother happy. I was the only happiness in her life and she worried about me a lot. Unfortunately, my mother didn’t want to hear anything about what will be after exams. She had big plans, related with my future life…
Her plans didn’t attract me. She wants that “get married, be a teacher, as Nadejda Alexandrovna, and teach the children at village’s school and go on…
But every night I dreamed about absolutely different things. I wanted to go to the front and finish my father’s mission. I didn’t know if it would have end or not. I knew exactly — I didn’t want to fall in love. What can be better than love to the motherland? Protecting and struggling for her — were the real targets for bright future! For every soldier there wasn’t better lover than love to homeland.
Homeland doesn’t need the names of the heroes. People must perpetuate their memory. Remember — strength is in unity and in courage. You couldn’t only be hero in words, in photos or on the pictures in book. Faith in victory and love to homeland — were the real qualities of real hero.
— For our country! — I was woken up by my own voice. I tried to stand up, but strong pain in the left shoulder held me down to the bed. I didn’t remember how long I had been sleeping. What happened? Where was I? The room around me was poorly lit and nobody was nearby. The smell reminded me hospital’s room. One more attempt to move failed. Different hoses were hanging over my head, pouring blood and compressing my hands. I was fifteen minutes in half — sitting position. Gradually, the memory returned to me. It was probably the 14th or 15th or may be 16th of April. Last time, I had received assignment from commander of our regiment Jamal Gasimov on 12th of April. I exactly remembered the place of enemy sniper and how I gauged. But unfortunately, I became a target myself. There was no point in sorting through different assumptions. I was injured, but alive. The only thing that caused disappointment was that I missed dangerous sniper, called “Berlin’s fox”. It was late for the pity. During last three years I was always in the forefront and didn’t have a chance to visit mom. Imagine three long years separated from her…
If there was tiny opportunity, without any doubts I would go to the battlefield. Thinking about what could happen, I was waiting that someone would open the door. The sound of footfalls, coming from a distance were approaching, but rarely reaching the door, again disappeared. But it didn’t last long. This time the door opened without knock. Nurse caught me open — eyed, quickly ran in the hallway. I didn’t even have a chance to say anything. Actually I didn’t check my voice — maybe I became dumb. But it was impossible, because I waken up by my scream. Let’s check! I got up the nerve and yelled towards the door:
— Who is there?
O Heavens that was my mom. Apparently, the nurse ran to rejoice my mother. At that time I wished to have wings and fly to mom. She was also confused and couldn’t understand what to do. She stopped for a while and just stared at me, before giving a hug. Mother could scarcely believe her eyes.
Mother’s hug is the best remedy. Forgetting about the pain in my shoulder, I tried to get up snuggle with the most precious person in the world. How has she become so weak during these 3 years…
It seemed that hundred years passed, since that day, when everyone called Ziba as “Sunshine”.
— Stubborn girl! Nevertheless, you followed in father’s footsteps.
— You had already grown up, became a hero, I can’t scold you.
— Mom, what happened?
— Oh, I behaved badly-she laughed from the heart, although she was in deep brooding few minutes ago.
I didn’t understand anything:
— I’d broken surprise…
— Mom, darling, what do you talk about? Maybe you have decided to marry me off today?
— Oh, my naughty girl. This will also happen, don’t hurry up, just get better.
— As soon as, I get better, I’ll back to the front.
— My sweetheart, the war is approaching to the end. Don’t think about front.
— If only…
— Ziba… — Mom interrupted her.
— My darling…
— My child, do you want to know about surprise?
— Mom, tell me, finally-both of them laughed.
— Daughter, you are awarded to the medal “For Bravery”.
— Come on, mom, don’t joke around.
— I am absolutely serious, my daughter, my hero! My brave girl!
Commander asked me not to tell you about medal, but I couldn’t. I was very happy!
— Hold on, I’ve get over it — I answered. — Is my commander in Baku? Why? Why was I awarded to a medal?
— Jamal Gasimov arrived in Baku to visit you. According to him you killed very dangerous and famous German sniper. That’s why you’d been awarded.
— My heart began beating very fast.
— What was his name? — I wanted to know without concealing my emotion.
— I didn’t know my dear daughter. He would tell everything himself, when he’d come. If I was not mistaken, he had strange nickname, something related to Berlin or fox.
— Don’t worry. Stitches still hadn’t fused.
I hold my mom tightly.
A miracle happened. But I didn’t know how. The most important thing was that Berlin’s fox was dead. I couldn’t wait Jamal Gasimov’s visit and counted minutes. Until I was thinking about, what mom told me, the doctor asked her to let me alone for a while. I had to recover after serious wound. Doctors considered as a miracle, even fact that I survived.
After mom’s story I couldn’t get a wink of sleep. I was totally exhausted, but questions in my head demanded answers. But Gasimov still hadn’t come…
I remembered 5—6 years old, that happened, when I was 14—15. On the frontline I often thought about childhood. At that moment I could feel dad nearby. He thought me, how to choose target, shoot and fire rifle. “Fearless” was absolutely new and bullets flied in the blink of an eye. Then dad didn’t feel any pain. Hands were not shaking. It was interesting that father always supported my wish to grow as boy.
I know exactly only one thing — he loved me as mad and gave everything. According to mom, few days before my birth he had been injured deadly. Like me — in a left shoulder.
The gold points of a real sniper. For a long time, he had been in coma. The doctors didn’t believe, he would wake up again. When I was born, mom called the hospital and asked doctor to tell him good news. When father heard this, he immediately opened eyes and several days later he was transferred to regular room. He often called me his Angel.
A quiet knock on the door returned me to reality. Doctor wouldn’t knock. So my commander came. Heart jumped out of my chest.
— Come in – I said loudly.
The door opened. This was my commander! He was in the civil clothes. O Heaven! I’ve noticed how handsome he was! Gently slicked black hair, gentle gaze just charmed me. I was slightly confused. Suddenly I stood up.
— No, no, Ziba, you shouldn’t be up. Lie down and don’t worry, — my commander called me by name for the first time.
I thanked him for the flowers, and the box in his hands caught my attention. It was my medal, of course. But I pretended that I have no idea about it. He moved his chair closer to me.
— How do you feel? – asked commander with kind smile.
— You are here, so everything will be ok — whispering these words, I looked at him.
— I have excellent news for you. I don’t know how to begin my story.
His words forced my heart to beat quickly. I tried to keep calm, I couldn’t extradite my mom. Expectation was fighting with time.
— Say something. I started worrying.
Open box attracted my sharp attention of sniper. Why was commander so embarrassed? He had faced all hardships of war. Couldn’t he just give medal and be happy with me?
I believed that Jamal Gasimov would answer all my questions, arising after mom’s story. I felt how tension was growing.
— Do you know, what is in this box? — He cut the silence.
This time I couldn’t hide my emotions and cried out:
— I know, comrade commander! My mom told about everything! There is medal for me.
— No guessing! — He said, trying to get up the nerve.
My cheeks blushed. I was confused. How could he say “No”? I’ve just tried to open my mouth, he opened the box and handed me. All my body was trembling. The thing in box said everything for Jamal. Nobody could say better. I didn’t know what to do. I had to say something, but I’ve decided to keep silent. He started. Finally, he looked in my eyes and popped the question.
— Ziba, will you marry me?
This was the best thing, I’ve ever heard. The words gave me warm and happy feeling. Instead of saying something I’ve squeezed his hand. It was enough to understand my answer. He got closer to me and stood up a little for giving him a hug. Something special happened between us in that moment. We were connected to each other through subtle threads.
Then he pulled out medal from his left pocket.
— Berlin’s fox could injure you, but you picked up his life. I am proud of you, Ziba!
I felt like, all world was mine.
Motherland brought me my hero Jamal.
Dreams and reality are so closely braided together, that sometimes there is no time for realizing…
Appreciate every moment and no doubts, dream will turn to reality. I love people, but secretly. Except, when they crowd I even convinced myself that these two features make me special hiving with beliefs is better than without even trying. But it is not always possible.
People consider me genius, but actually I’m crazy. You might even call me naughty.
I guess I am no more use I’m quite young. But I’ve heard how waiter called me “guy” or salesman “uncle”. I used to counting my years. I usually miscalculate my age by adding couple of years when someone asks. I know that it is funny. How fast youth passed! I lost track in a web of rapidly changing years and events. Maybe I owed to these years? What’s the difference who owes? My years are just only my fortune. And doesn’t treasure how old you are and who you are.
I wasn’t looking forward to birthday. But to be honest at heart expectation was fighting with time. A house full of guests, rowdy evenings, laughter and funny stories, congratulations and loads of presents were over. Later all these have been replaced by close-knit family circles composed of six persons. And now I spend my birthday along. Solitude and silence are my constant guests.
I didn’t even remember when these words were written. Maybe, I had done it at one of my birthdays.
Good Heavens, I’m so glad that sometimes I could remember something from the past.
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