September 13, 2017

Fiction by Asror Allayarov: "Tombs A and B"

Asror Allayarov is a Writer, Author, Editor, Marketing/HR Manager, and Translator. His poetry has been published widely. This is his first story appearing in a USA magazine. Tombs A and B gained 2017 Naji Naaman's Literary Prize and was published in his book "A Decision" by SBPRA in the USA in 2014.


“Welcome to the city cemetery.” It is a wooden road sign that points to the right at the end of the divided main road. Indeed, there are two roads in northwest Karshi and one of them leads to the city block named “Cemetery.”
All the buildings of the city feel like coffins, the only difference is they have doors and windows. There are empty coffins beside the houses for the volunteers who wish to experience one night sleeping in the coffins in the yard. Night time is especially exciting. Registration starts from early morning so that everyone is in the proper line. However, some unsuccessful ones have to postpone the exciting night in the coffins. It is because there are only twenty-nine graves in alphabetical order.
The bustle of the city is silenced in the evening soon after tradesmen close up their businesses. Shopkeepers who sell grave cloth, cigarettes, juice, and pillows close their shops and depart home to rent coffins. It is the common routine here. They are not supposed to distract tourists so that they feel the complete silence and experience the life in coffins.
The overseer looked over the coffins to check whether everybody was in their graves. Passing by tombs A and B, he moved toward tomb C. An old man from Shahrisabz lying in tomb D asked, “Are you in your place?”
“Yes, I am.”
The old man nodded. After checking the graves, the overseer bolted the only lock of the fence and put the “no responsibility” letters into his bag. These letters are written by the people renting the coffins for one night and they ensure that people hold their own responsibility for safety.
Leaving the cemetery for home the overseer declared, “Do not distract each other!”
The entire city block was captivated by the silence of night, and the moon was covered by clouds. Jackals expressed their hunger. Nearby a woman just beside the fence shrieked from horror. A man next to her comforted her, “Do not worry. They can not jump over the fence.”
As the temperature fell, the soil grew moist. It was impossible to sleep an entire night in this position. A mattress should be taken inside the coffin.
A young man from tomb A took a mattress inside the coffin and let his mind dream. He tried to sleep, but the coffin was not a comfortable place to rest. His heart was captivated by the horrors of the cemetery. Soon he dreamed again. Something moved on his body and seemed to multiply.
A girl from tomb B screamed in horror and appeared beside tomb A. “Can I stay here for a while? Can you come outside?”
A young man came out and saw a seventeen-year-old girl in atlas. She was standing in terror looking at the sky, as the earth was horrifying to her. “I should not have come here, but I am curious about the experience in the coffin. God knows what will happen before morning.”
“You seem to be a confident girl. Just think about the morning when you will go home and everything will be all right.” He was trying to forget about the horror.
“My name is Hadicha,” the girl said.
“Mine is Izzat.”
“Where is the toilet? I should have asked the overseer to show me.”
“Of course, it is over there, just beside tomb O.”
“Thank you. What has made you visit here?” the girl asked. “Usually only old people are interested in the cemetery.”
“There are some reasons. What about you? You are very young. You may get infected with incurable diseases here. It is not a safe place.”
“I just wanted to be alone. Once I attempted to commit suicide. My parents sent me here so that I would not repeat it. The silence in the cemetery is so pleasant, that I have never felt it before this. What should I pay attention to when I am alone in the coffin?”
“You just think about the dawn and that’s enough.”
“I think now I can not sleep in my coffin.” The girl faced him while coming back from the toilet.
“You can sleep on that bed, if you wish. But I am afraid you can not feel the warmth of the coffin.”
“I cannot imagine visiting here again.”
“Yes, it seems you are not ready to experience cemetery life for the second time. Indeed, people usually come to this cemetery city only once.”
“Look! The moon is appearing behind the clouds.”
“Oh, then hedgehogs will come. Don’t panic if they fall into your coffin. They are not dangerous.”
The girl and the young man sat on the bed next to tomb A. Some other people, who could not stand the insects creeping on their bodies, came out of their graves and sat on the bed. Some old men ran to the toilet as they could not hold their feces in their coffins. It was midnight.
“I feel like I am among dead people. Perhaps, that is the thing people come here to experience.”
The girl stared at the young man for some time.
“But I am fond of the silence of the cemetery. Here nobody can interfere with your life. You are the king of your life.”
“Are you a writer?” the girl asked.
“Yes. I am writing a novel about this cemetery city. But I am not sure whether any publishing house will accept it because nobody believes the story.”
“There are two things that make a writer famous. The first is talent, another is politics. A writer is not a writer without them.”
“Oh, then I am the poorest writer in the world! I possess neither of them.”
“You know, talent is a unique thing. It represents neither a color nor a look. You can feel it only when it explodes in you,” the girl said excitingly.
“But my only enemy is talent. I suffer it. It does whatever it wants to me.”
The girl asked, “Are you going to complete your novel tonight?”
“Of course. You will be the first reader.”
Suddenly, the girl shuddered and jumped up and down until two cockroaches dropped on the ground. They rushed to come inside the coffin. The girl took her mattress in her coffin and cleaned off the insects. Lying in her coffin, she stared at the sky for a long time. Finally, she forgot about the horror and slept in peace.
In the morning, the overseer woke up everybody and someone asked him, “Why does nobody sleep in tombs A and B? Why do you not rent them?”
“Two years ago a young man and a girl rented them. I do not know how, but a huge pile of wet soil fell on their tombs and nobody noticed until they were dead. After this tragedy, nobody rented tombs A and B.”
© Asror Allayarov

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