[Only admins are allowed to see this link]The Story Told by a Fawn
Translated by Mary Childs, with Aida Abuashvili Lominadze
November 20, 2011
I am very, very small, an orphan. Fate has been cruel to me. I’ve become an orphan at a bad time. My fur is still thin, and the light spots scattered on my short hair are like small, white eyes. My antlers and teeth haven’t come in yet, and my hooves have not yet grown hard.
I make my way with difficulty, like one who’s lost his way. Just look at my bloody feet - here, when I went down to the ravine to drink water, I got hurt. I feel so sad…my heart... My poor mother! While my mother was alive, she was always so kind to me: she nursed me, caressed me, and warned me about danger.
What will happen to me now, poor me! I no longer nurse at her breast, I only suck the dew from the grass in the morning and evening, when there is dew, and I am dying from the desire to drink milk. Since I have no one to take care of me, I’m always afraid, I tremble, and wander about aimlessly, constantly expecting death... oh Lord, how many enemies we have!
Not long ago, distraught, I went to the edge of the meadow… I was looking all around. Suddenly, I heard a thundering noise above my head. I looked up – an enormous grey-black bird, its wings tucked in and its beak gaping, was swooping straight toward me. Frightened, I jumped back into the forest.
The accursed bird was aiming directly at me. It couldn’t hold itself back, and fell on the very spot where I’d just been standing. I tremble all over when I remember its curved beak and its claws, sharp like uncut diamonds. It headed straight toward me, and when it didn’t find me, thwacked its wings over the grasses and the blackberry bushes. Looking everywhere with its frightful, yellow eyes, it was offended by my escape. It rose up, barely able to free itself from the blackberry bushes. I hid behind a tree, and watched from there, squinting with one eye, my heart beating.
My dear forest! You help me so much, and if you didn’t, I wouldn’t have a single hair left on my fur coat. My heart tells me I will become the victim of my enemies. I am still inexperienced; I was with my mother for only a week. She taught me who my enemy was, and who was my friend. But now who will teach me? I always lie in the reeds, hiding, and have no peace from the gnats and mosquitoes. With my mother, I lived well and breathed freely...
My mother and I lived over there, on the hilly ridge, with small mountain rivers flowing on both sides, in the shadowy mists of the forest. Our home was difficult to reach. My mother would lie on the edge of the hill, and I would lie next to her. The trees hid us from view on three sides, and mama herself would look out from the fourth. From time to time she would raise her ears. I would look at her, and imitating her, would perk up my small ears. Three times we heard an unusual noise – it wasn’t like the roaring of the water, which I heard all the time, or the clatter of a blackbird, or the knocking of a woodpecker. It wasn’t even like a branch crashing down from the top of a dry tree, or the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind. I noticed that whenever my mother heard this unfamiliar sound, she would jump to her feet and say to me: “My child! Come, follow me!” She would run away, and I, too, would jump up with all of my strength. I had no idea, couldn’t understand at all whom she feared. But now I know... Oh! How many enemies we have! Oh, man! Why do you feel no pity for me, small as I am? Why don't you let me be, so I can walk freely, and with a peaceful heart tread on the beautiful, green grass, stand on the top of the ridge, and enjoy the light evening breeze?!
I can't stray far from the forest. If I go out into the meadow, I have to stay near the edge of the forest – if I didn’t, I would die! I constantly have to look all around, hide behind the trees, near boulders, in the grass. I eat my food, and shuddering from fear, I can barely stand! What harm do I do to you, oh man, tell me, what harm? What harm did my poor mama do to you, what did she drink that was yours, what did she eat of yours that made you kill her and leave me with no one to care for me, and make me an orphan?! Oh, humans! You depend on your wiles and strength, and aren’t at all concerned about us. You don't feel that we, too, love freedom. With your merciless heart, you don't feel that we, too, love life and nature: the rustling leaves, the water’s roar, which I hear so often with silent, bated breath, the waving grass, running and playing together with the beasts of the forest... But you, oh, man! Nervous, your eyes bloodshot, you search for me, and a thousand others like me, weak and without protection.
You have weapons, you sneak up on us, kill us treacherously with bullets, making us say farewell to this earthly life...
How can I not be afraid? It's barely a week since I first looked upon this world, and how much fear and suffering I’ve experienced already! The day before yesterday was rainy. Beautiful and full of life, my mother stood next to a beech tree, and was chewing with gusto...and I was standing next to my mother,
taking joy at being with her. Trusting in my mother, I gave no thought to enemies and death. Raindrops were falling from the dense leaves...I put my head under them, so these pleasant drops could refresh me.
"Isn't it lovely, my child?" my mother asked me.
I nodded and jumped about, sometimes knocking my head against her teats.
In front of us a woodpecker was inscribing a circle around a dead tree, and rapping so loudly that I was amazed _ my mother was so large, and she yet couldn't make the forest as noisy as this small bird! It went around the tree trunk, scraping with its feet, pecking first at one place, and then another… I watched the woodpecker's playfulness with joy. Suddenly I heard "Chkhi! Chkhi! Chkhi!" I looked to the side: a jay was circling above us. “Hide behind me,” my mother said, “or the jay will pluck out your eyes!” I hid. My mother
shook her head, and chased away this vile bird. The jay flew towards me, made many attempts, but then left us in peace. Pretending to be innocent, it settled on the branch of a beech tree, and began to meow. Its voice sounded just like mine.
My mother laughed involuntarily, and said, “It's very sly, that jay. My child, be careful! It preys on small fawns like you, my child...it moans softly and starts to meow, and if a foolish and inexperienced fawn like you is near, it calls to you. And this is just what it wants – to jump out and snatch your eyes away!”
A shudder passed through my body...
I didn't utter a sound, and hid immediately!
“Yes, yes, it's so, my child! As long as your mother is alive, don't be afraid; when I am no longer around for you, then you must be cautious!”
Oh, how inexperienced I am, poor me!
Once it was very hot. My mother got up from her bed and suggested we go to the stream. We went out, and made our way down a slope covered with small trees. We passed through the reeds and reached the river. The ravine was so deep the sun’s rays couldn’t reach the bottom. The trees, stretching from both banks, were woven together like the ends of a rope. At the base of the trees, blackberry roots grew out over the riverbank, their red heads bent, looking at the flowing water. The cold, limpid water gurgled along the glistening boulders, pouring over one rock and then another, and formed into pools. My mother came up and stood directly in a pool. My hooves were hurting, and I could barely walk on the rocks.
“Come here, my child, step into the water, it’s pleasant to stand in the water in hot weather.”
I went down and cautiously put one foot in the water. It was terribly cold, and I jumped back right away.
“It’s cold, I can't stand here.”
“Nothing horrible will happen to you, you need to get used to this now, my child!”
I stood in the water a short while, and then we turned back. We heard a sound above us in a clear-cut area of the forest.
“That’s not frightening,” my mother said to me. “It’s a mother and a small child. Our enemy doesn't cry like that, but still, we need to be careful.” We climbed up through the thicket, so we wouldn't be visible at the edge of the forest, so no one could see us.
My mother walked on ahead. My heart couldn’t stand it, and I looked back.
I hid my body, revealing only my head. Then, I heard a sound from below: “Oh, mommy, mommy, a wolf, mommy, a wolf!”
“Don’t be afraid, my child, my dear. But where is it, can you show me?” his mother asked him. “Look over there, don't you see its ears sticking up from the woods, mama!” The child pointed to me with tears in his eyes.
“Ooh, oh my dear, dear child, that’s not a wolf, it’s a fawn, my child! Oh, how beautiful it is!”
“Let's catch it, darling mama,” the small child said to his mother. And at the same time, impatient, he was ready to run towards me.
“No, my dear child, it’s a sin, my child, you know it has a mother! She would certainly cry about her child!”
I held my breath and listened, pleased to hear a word of pity for us. I even wanted to listen more, but my mother returned, and ran up to me, saying: “Hey, you silly child, do you really believe what they’re saying?! Why are you looking over there? Let's go, quickly, follow me! They’ll go away, but they’ll tell the hunters about our home and then they’ll make us say goodbye to life.”
My poor mother sensed beforehand that this is what would happen.
My mother jumped up, and I did too, and we bounded up the hill. At the very last moment, this was all I heard: “Ooh, its mother is there, too!”
We entered an area at the edge of the ridge that was overgrown with reeds and covered with butterbur, whose roots were moistened by the cold springs.
Footprints of a small fawn like me were visible here and there on the mud. It was frightfully hot. We were worried. We lay down in the butterbur, and its wide leaves protected us from the rays of the burning sun. Suddenly, the clouds lifted from the mountain peaks surrounding us, and gathered together. The sky
rumbled, thundered, and there was a flash of lightening.
Heavy rain fell on the opposite cliffs, and soon all around us the leaves of the trees and the butterbur became so noisy it sounded as if the forest, the mountains, and valley were all collapsing. Every living creature fell silent. The birds no longer dared to chirp or hop around playfully. The loathsome jay, who
had frightened me so much earlier, now didn’t seem so completely terrifying. It was sitting on a beech sapling, with its eyes closed and mucous running down from its beak, its shoulders sagging pitifully. A red-breasted bird, the “beechtree bird,” inoffensive and harmless with its soft downy neck, was sitting near it.
How it closed its eyes! A siskin flew towards me and cried out, “Tsrip, tsrip!”
The jay was startled, opened its eyes, took a deep breath, and turning here and there, cried out awkwardly, “Chkhii, chkhii!” I found it funny. Before, I’d thought it was so strong, but now I understood it was really just a child.
The thunder moved away. The birds broke out in song, all at once. The grass and the leaves on the trees began to shed tears of joy. My mother loved to walk after the rain... She would walk along the meadow and take me with her. And now, too, we made our way along the meadow’s edge, heading towards the
mountains. We heard the sweet sound of a salamuri.* A flock of sheep was spread out at the base of the mountain, munching happily on the fresh, dewy grass. The sun was half hidden behind the edge of the mountain, its pale rays reaching only the tops of the hills and the trees.
A shepherd sat above us on the hillside. He was wrapped in his nabadi** and playing the salamuri. An enormous, terrifying dog with long, thick hair was squatting next to him, watching the flock of sheep with its quick eyes, and from time to time glancing lovingly at its master.
“We’ve come to a bad place,” my mother said to me, “The shepherd is unarmed, you don’t need to be afraid of him, but that dog will bark at our smell and may chase after us. Let’s go back. Watch it closely – if it starts running in our direction, I’ll show myself, and you hide in the grass.” The flock was startled when it saw us, and began to look in our direction. I hid in a thick, impenetrable mass of vetchling and didn't take my eyes off the dog with its wagging tail...The flock grew frightened and at the same time, the dog began to whimper.
It raised its ears, and rushed in my direction...
The shepherd began to shout. I started to shake. The dog immediately caught sight of my mother, and rushed towards her. My mother slipped, and in a second she disappeared from view. Tears rushed to my eyes, I was sick at heart.
Oh lord, mama, if this cursed dog catches you! For a long time I heard her hooves crashing, and from the ravine, the clatter of stones.
Oh lord, if it catches my mother and tears her to pieces with its diamondsharp teeth! Twilight fell. The shepherd whistled to his sheep and drove them towards their fold. With pounding heart, I observed his movements. He beat some of the miserable flock with his long staff, and threw stones at others. A rock hit one lamb, small like me. The poor thing fell and its legs started to shake pitifully. The shepherd set off, and began calling to Q’urshia. Soon, I saw it on the horizon – Q’urshia was standing by its owner's side, its red tongue hanging out of its mouth.
I was afraid. Who knows, whether or not its lips and mouth were covered with my mother's blood. It grew dark. Nothing was visible, not a sound was heard anywhere. What had happened to my mother? Maybe she couldn't find me, if she’s still alive?
Soon, I heard a loud croaking. It sounded like my mother's voice. I called back to her. Agitated, the poor thing rushed towards me.
“Are you here, my child? Don't be afraid, your mother is alive. No dog or wolf can destroy her...are you alive?" she asked me.
"I am," I answered her.
My mother caressed me...Oh, to whom can I weep and cry now, with whom can I plead? Who is powerful enough to let me look into my mother's eyes again, to enjoy her caress! How can I survive this sorrow? If only this bloodthirsty enemy would kill me, too! Why am I still alive?!
Yesterday, I watched my mother, my solace, alive and full of splendor, and how could I have thought that the next day I would lose her forever!
We walked through the meadow the entire night, no longer afraid. We entered an alpine squill and ate the grass with pleasure. It began to get light, and we headed towards the forest. Accursed was the dawn of this day! In the meadow, the grass grew thick. In the meadow stood two or three wild cherry trees. Blackbirds flocked around them, and we heard their lively chatter. Some flew up, others flew away, carrying food off to their children. My mother cautioned me, saying: “It’s dangerous to be out walking right now, our enemy will
be searching for us everywhere after the rain.”
This was my mother’s last warning. My mother was worried, as if she felt death near by. She would pull off a single leaf, and stand completely still.
Above us, goat-willows were growing close to one another. In front of them stood three or four dense, rustling birch trees.
Suddenly, like a clap of thunder from the sky, a rifle gave a deafening roar, and the sound ricocheted around the mountains and cliffs. The leaves on the trees and the plants all shuddered, smoke spread out across the dewy grass. My mother groaned once, and fell. Oh lord! I froze on the spot. I watched as my mother rolled, head down, and left a bloody trace on the grass. A young boy jumped out from behind the birch trees, the hem of his dark silver-grey chokha*** tucked up to his waist. “Victory!” he shouted, and with a quick, high-pitched warble he chased after my mother. My poor mother tried to stand up, to step forward, but her knees gave out again, she fell and rolled. I died. I was destroyed when the cursed hunter took out his glinting kinjal**** and cut my mother's throat. Her blood gushed out and poured over his hands. Oh me! I saw everything clearly, but how could I help her, wretched as I was?! Right there, on her breasts, those very breasts on which I used to suck, he made a cut with the kinjal and opened up her insides. He threw her around his neck, and set off. I started to wail. I fainted. Since then, I’ve barely been alive. I weep, and this is my consolation. I walk, weeping and crying to the trees, the mountains and the cliffs. I wail and cry to the stream and the grass, but my mother does not come to me. I no longer see my mother, I am an orphan, and who knows who will take care of me, who will dye his hands with my blood?!
---* salamuri – a shepherd’s reed pipe
** nabadi – a large, wool felted coat
*** chokha – an outer coat
**** kinjal – a short, sharp knife, carried in one’s belt
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