As soon as I got into the car with Dilnura and little Temur to leave for their village, I felt light and content, completely free and at home to be back in Tajikistan. Driving along the road to Vakhdat, still torn up and unfinished, dusty breeze in my hair, I thought of how little things bring tears to my eyes: when cupped palms smooth over face in the motions of omin as we speed past graves; when songs are sung about mothers, old beyond their years. Onajon, oyijon, ayajon.
In Vakhdat, longing for the haze over the Adolat hills at dusk, I walked out to the fields with Temur and his small brother Sardor. Temur ran with the other boys playing football while Sardor and I played with sticks and mud on the river bank. The rice paddies are glistening with the last colors of sunset, the air smells like cow dung and smoke. I am happiest in the village, I think, where life is simple. The swallows fly around every house, entering rooms freely, building their mudden homes.
Dilnura’s father quotes a poem after we talk about Christopher Columbus, and Al-Beruni’s India. He says, the lands not conquered by Amir Temur’s sword were conquered by Alisher Navoiy’s pen. Little Temur sits by us and quietly nods to these words.