was born in village Zolskoye in Kabardin - Balkar Republic.
Graduated from the Kabardin-Balkar University, the litarary Institute named after A.M. Gorky.
Member of the Union of writers of the USSR, Russian Federation.
The author of many books published in his homeland and abroad.

One sweep. Another. One, two,
 three... The thin blade of the scythe glinting in the sun cuts through the thick grass gleaming green and silvery-blue, and brings it down with a whirring sound. Like a clod of earth thrown to one side by the ploughshare, the hay falls into a thick heap.
     My muscles do not feel any thing any more, and my fingers seem to be grafted on to the scythe handle wrapped round with a ring of plaited grass so that my hands should not slip. My scythe and my body are as if welded together in a single, indivisible whole. Rather than the scythe being wielded by me, the scythe is in charge.
The sun is burning down mercilessly and because of the heat my head seems to be going round in circles. Sweat is pouring over my hot skin, as if I had just come out of a steam bath. The legs of my trousers, now soaked through with sweat, are sticking to my things and making the mowing ten times harder.
In front of me I see just one tiny piece of ground. Beyond that I see Lana, shapely and long-legged, wearing a thin short dress. I see the thick’ tresses of her hair cascading down on to her shoulders, and her sunburnt skin almost as black-as olives. Lana is still out there ahead of me and I cannot catch her up however hard I try. The pole is not far. It is hammered into the ground at the end of the plot which Khamata, Lana’s grandfather, measured off. He walked a hundred paces away from us and then stuck the pole into the ground. He did that without saying a word: he thought that if people had decided to lay on a spectacle they might as well get on with it. He himself was prepared to watch as long as they did not waste time over it. Khamata had not objected against Lana and me having a trial of strength. We had been working here since early morning. Lana had brought food along for us and a three-liter jug of sour milk. After drinking his fill the old man had given a nod in my direction, and Lana, looking askance, anded me the jug as if she had been anyone there.
“Here you hare”, she said, and ironic smile slightly twisting the corners of her mouth. “Expert mower”,
She spoke as if this gentle irony had not been directed at me, her words, uttered casually, by chance, but at someone else, at some outsider. I sighed and took the jug out of her hands, trying as hard as I could to make it clear that her stinging remarks had made no impression on me: her arrows were too delicate and my armor too dependable... The thick sour milk was straight from the fridge. The succulent lumps in it burnt the inside of my as if they were pieces of melting ice.
“A mover I am well and truly”, I said, cutting her short and accepting the new title she had given me. For no particular reason I began to inspect my scythe and, pretending to notice something, I drew my thumb along the blade. “So as to form an opinion people have at least got to have some idea what they’re up against. It’s easy to judge for someone who had never picked up a scythe in her life...”
“So that’s it!” chipped in Lana. “That’s what you think about me, is it?!”
“Perhaps you have, I don’t know. So as move it from one place to another, you may have done at some stage...”
“Move it from one place to another!” called Lana mockingly, echoing my words. “You’ll very soon find out. Grandad, give me your scythe”, she called, Scampering over to not answer.
“Grandad, do let me”
Perhaps because he thought there would be no harm in letting Lana do a little mowing, or perhaps just for the sake of peace and quiet, Khamata gave in.
“Right away, right away!” called Lana, clapping her hands and taking up her position right beside me. “We’ll see who can mow fastest! Grandad, measure a stretch off for us!”
Taking his time about it, Khamata complied with Lana’s request and then settled down in the “heatshelter” as he had called the awning made of poles and woven grass. At a signal from Lana he gave the sigh for us to start.
Then we got down to it. Lana made a quick getaway. It was as if there had been a conspiracy between them as to the minute when the old man would tell us to start, and she had prepared herself for it in advance. I fumbled it. While I was working out how best to start mowing and settle into my stride Lana moved on several scythe strokes ahead of me. And here I am trying to catch her up with all my might. Only nothing is working out right. What if she manages to mow as far as the pole first? Then I am done for. I am already a figure of fun for the whole village. I had been demobbed later than expected, they had kept me on till July. My parents had gone almost crazy with worry. They had already started planning to send off someone to the unit where I was serving, but fortunately they did not get round to it in time. Other people used to the way home but that I would be back soon, since there was nowhere else for me to go. They were wailing and snivelling, and kept asking themselves: is our Tembulat still alive, and never gave the whole village a moment’s rest, while I was serving my time all right.
The other lads of mine were coming back from their military service some as drivers, others as mechanics or motor engineers. As luck would have it I was singled out for the only cavalry regiment in the whole of the Soviet Union. When I came home of course all the neighbors, friends and relatives came running. Hugs, kisses, slaps on the back... Then, as we were sitting out in the garden, someone started up a conversation asking me to tell them what training I had been given. All my friends have learnt a trade in the army, I was told. One of them had been a thank-driver, and he had been given a tractor to drive and he had already managed to show what he was made of in the spring sowing. Another had been in a construction battalion and had learnt several trades: now he could work as a mason, plasterer, painter and fitter. He had set up a building gang in the collective farm and was putting up some granaries, and built to last too, what’s more. What could I boast about? What had I done in the army?
“I was in the cavalry”, I replied. “A groom then”, commented one of the men. “What a pity our last mare, that lame one, the chairman sold last year to the slaughter-house, otherwise there’d be someone to look after her and you’d have a job...” People all around me started smirking. “I was filmed on horseback”, I said. “Filmed?” The smirking got louder after that. It was not that they had doubts about what I had told them, they did not believe a word I have saying. If only they’d see me in a film on horseback, brandishing a sabre, or better still in close-up filling half the screen! The village hall would have collapsed outright. They would have shouted: “Look, look! It’s our Tembulat, would you believe it!” Then the whole village would have been hailing me as a hero. All I had done though appeared as an extra, to “make up numbers” for the crowd scenes: as luck would have it I was always right in the thick of the crush and my face was not a conspicuous one at the best of times. Later, however hard I tried, I could never pick myself out. “Nothing wrong with the cinema, it’s a film occupation”, one of them said, raising his eyebrows in a knowing way, as if he had been doing nothing else all his life other than making films. Then he added: “So you’ll be opening a film studio down at the club-house?” He said all this in a completely serious voice and I failed to notice his sarcasm at first. “No”, I replied, shaking my head, “it’s a complicated business”, Then they all burst out laughing. They went on to ask me what I wanted to do later on, and I told them my plans in all seriousness: “I’ll stay around here for a bit and then I’ll be off to town. What’s there to do out here in the country? There’s no interesting work, it’s boring and in the towns there are factories, technical schools, dancing, cafes”. “Where are you off to?” another asked. “Aren’t you planning to go and train as an actor? You’ll have to toddle off to Moscow for that”. After that I started to get angry. “I’ll see”, I said, “and then I’ll decide. Perhaps I will set off there and go and be an actor”. “No”, they insisted, “you tell us in advance exactly what you’re going to do, then we can get fitted up with glasses, put them on and get a better look at you”. Of course that set them all off laughing again: their guffaws were deafening. I wanted to think up some scathing answer, but then Khamata came to the rescue, “You, scoffers, why do you go on at the lad so? It’s true, there is a cavalry regiment like that, it was specially set up to be used for the cinema. You ought to pay more attention to the newspapers. About the town and going off there, well, if that’s what he wants and he doesn’t feel happy back home...”
All this stupid fuss over me, and I had only been out of the army for a couple of days. What with the incident with Lana today on top of all the rest-their jibing would soon be the death of me. They would say that a slip of a girl managed to cut hay twice as fast as a cavalryman. No, whatever happened I just had to catch up with her and finish my strip first!
Sweep, another sweep and then again and again... I made a last desperate attempt to get my muscles under control. All at once a new wave of strength seemed to come to me and thrust me forward.
The distance between us was growing smaller and I was gradually gaining on Lana! Now, I could really see her - to one side of me and just a faction in front. The beads of sweat on her sunburnt skin were like drops of water on a ripe plum. I could hear her breathing: rapid, jerky, forced. I sensed, or guessed that she was nearly at the end of her tether.
The pole was rapidly bearing down on us. One more push, just one more - an our scythes were even and they rang out as one as we cut into the grass.
Lana had got used to the idea that I was losing and she was reluctant to be overtaken. She made one last effort to pull away from me. She resorted to cunning and started making her strip only half as wide as mine. Yet even so I was beginning to get the better of her. The pole was very near now. As if she was in a frenzy, Lana began to make her sweeps quicker and quicker. Realizing now that there was no way she was going to get back in the lead she pushed the pole while making it look like an accident so that it should fall on me but it fell behind me.
 «Sto-op!» called Khamata. «That’s it!»
It was hard to change gear by then and we both made a few more sweeps with our scythes.
«That’s the end. I said stop!»
We stopped as one, hardly able to get our breath back or bring any words out. Khamata was sitting there in his «heat-shelter», craning his neck to watch us, and at the same time drinking from the jug.
«I did win, didn’t I?» asked Lana.
Khamata did not say anything at first, as if he was out to tease Lana.
«Well, go on, Grandad!»
«I’ll announce the result later. Now just sit down quietly and give your arms and legs a rest».
I collapsed under the awning.
«Come on, Grandad! You always have to have your fun!»
Not knowing whether to take offense for real or just pretend, Lana began to walk round the «heat-shelter». One minute she stood up on tiptoe, then she threw her arms into the air only to let them flop down again; she would bend down, swinging her arms to and for, as if shaking off her tiredness, and would then clutch hold of her shoulders, take a deep breath and let it out again through mischievously pouting lips. When she had got her breath, Lana came back to us, sat down close by, stretched out her legs in front of her, showing her round little  knees that looked like upturned teacups.
Khamata put down the jug, brought out bread, cheese and some salted cucumbers, then wiped a broad knife on the hem of his loosely hanging soldier’s tunic which I had given him complete with my sergeant’s epaulettes. He place a flat round smoked cheese up on end on the ground and holding it still with his hard, wrinkled fingers, began to cut off small pieces for us.
«After a good day’s mowing like that you deserve a good meal», the old man muttered.
But was I feeling like food? Muttering something incomprehensible, I pointed to Lana to say that she should get on and eat. Lana was looking quiet and placid by this time: she was half-lying down with her elbows bent under her to prop her up. Her head was thrown back and her thick hair reached the ground; her eyelids were half-shut and she was so tired she felt too lazy even to open her mouth.
«Lana, do you want some cheese?» Or perhaps I should give you a cucumber?»
No answer.
«Come on, do eat something, otherwise Tembulat here will gobble down the lot».
«Don’t get upset about losing, after all Tembulat is a man».
«That’s not right!» Lana flared up at once. «I won, I did!’
«No-o!» the old man’s thin lips stretched into a smile. «Fair’s fair!»
«No, Grandad, I won! Ask Tembulat, I’m right, aren’t I?»
For the first time in two days Lana looked straight at me and I felt weak at the knees. Her enormous eyes with that elusive laughter lurking in their depths were studying me carefully and at the same time they were warning me: just you dare say «No»! Her long eyelashes fluttered up and down as if counting out the time allocated for my answer. There was something naive in her face, a kind of helpless childish purity. Her cheeks at the edge of her mouth looked slightly puffed, as if she was sucking a fruit-drop; her generous lips were slightly parted just inviting someone to trace round them with the tip of a finger. A mere three years ago she had been just an ordinary-looking, clumsy girl with a face covered in large ginger freckles. How she had changed! I had not recognized her immediately when I had first seen her two days before. I had been standing in the middle of our garden when she had walked past. I thought to myself that she would be glad to see me, would come rushing over and start asking me all sorts of questions. After all our houses were right next to each other, and there was not even a fence between them. I had looked upon Lana as a little sister ever since my earliest childhood. Pretending that she had not noticed me, Lana had just walked past, graceful, nimble, beautiful. I wanted to shout something mocking after her but could not bring myself to: it was if I had suddenly forgotten how to speak altogether.
Nevertheless in the evening she was brought in to see me by her mother. Both she and I felt awkward for some reason and greeted each other like strangers: she quickly stretched out her hand and then quickly wrestled it from my grip. We bumped into each other twice the next day, and whenever I set eyes on her I felt strangely awkward.
 «Tembulat, aren’t I right?»
The repeated question - her impatience, the touch of anger in her voice the light-hearted confidence that even if she was wrong three times over she would still not hear any objection - got the better of me.
«Yes, yes, you...»
The corners of her lips curled upwards, the sparkle in her eyes grew brighter and I lost my bearings completely. Surely she realised how embarrassed I felt. Perhaps she thought it was because of her that I had offered to come and help Khamata that morning? Perhaps though, it was because of her? I had been lying out in the garden in the hayrick, as I always liked sleeping out of doors in the summer. Khamata had started busting about early sweeping the yard, and was about to whet his scythe, when he suddenly dropped the idea so as not to wake me.
«Get on, get on, Grandad, I’m not sleeping!» I shouted out.
«So you’ve woken up? I thought you’d have a good sleep, make the most of the chance». The old man walked over to me. «What’s it like being home again after the barracks?»
«It’s hard to get used to it».
«You’ll manage». The old man began to sharpen the blade. «I’m getting ready to do some mowing».
«Can I come along too?» I heard myself ask, even before the idea had really taken root in my mind.
«Why not? Off we go, if you’re in the mood, you can loosen up those old bones of yours».
I quickly made myself ready.
On our way out of the village we climbed up the hill, taking a diagonal path and leaving footprints behind us in the damp crisp grass. Every now and then, with a desperate flapping of wings, quails would take wing in fright and swoop off to one side of us. I walked behind the old man, Knocking the large sparking dewdrops to the ground with my army boots. As I walked along I breathed in the cool of morning in hungry gasps. Ten minutes later we were at the top of the hillock, and I looked round. Down below beyond the bend of the dazzlingly bright river lay my village Arasai, a typical Caucasian village. In places roofs of buildings showed through the thick branches of the trees. Our houses were in the center: I caught sight of them and thought to myself for a moment, how Lana must look as she slept with her hair strewn over the white pillow... The rim of the sun was now peeping out from behind the crest of the mountains and its first rays set the dew-covered slope sparkling. The sun came up slowly until the enormous red globe hung over the horizon. A warm haze hovered above the earth with a sense of something more significant than anything I had known before, something vitally important, a key to what life on earth was all about. Still unable to grasp properly the feeling that had suddenly welled up within me I looked down at the amazingly pure, remarkable world that I was beholding as if for the first time. I felt I was discovering it all over again as I picked out the places I knew. Above me the sky was stretched taut like a silk canvas and in its distant depths the songs of the larks blended in an endless happy tune. «My village», I thought to myself in an absent-minded kind of way. «Lana...» Khamata’s words I did not catch at once, although I guessed the gist.
«You must have missed it all», came a distant voice floating towards me. «How long have you been away from home? Two years?» On the old man’s face I could read sympathetic awareness of my present feelings, concern and worry.
 «Two and a half», I whispered in reply, although they seemed to have vanished away to nothing - just as if my childhood, school-days, army service, as if my whole past had suddenly disappeared: it was as if I had only just appeared on the planet.
«Come on, or we’ll get behind the other», said Khamata, touching me on the shoulder.
We moved on.
«What a year we’ve been having: rain one day, sun the text, the spring crops came up really thick and we’re all hoping for a good harvest», went on Khamata admiringly. «We’re bringing in the second haycrop this year, if Allah’s willing, there’ll be the third as well».
Khamata told me that they were having problems in the collective farm bringing in the harvest. Everyone that they could possibly find had been roped in. The old men had followed his example and each taken a patch of one and a half to two hectares on the slopes where all the hay had to be cut by hand.
I walked along in silence, listening to Khamata and thinking about other things of more immediate concern to me, trying to understand what was happening to me, for a start trying to find reasons for this sudden urge of mine to go off and start hay-making...
In the morning I had not come to any conclusion, but now I knew: it was because of Lana that I had felt the inexplicable urge to come into contact with her, at least indirectly, with Grandfather as a go-between. I had felt sure that she too would come along, sure with nothing but intuition to go on.
Lana should on no account guess what was happening to me though! So as not to give myself away, I turned to stare in another direction and leant up against the pole.
«You see, Tembulat agrees, and you said it wasn’t me».
Lana by chance touched my shoulder as she learnt forward to speak, and I felt as if I was on fire.
«As you like, it makes no difference to me». The old man for some reason gave me a long searching look. «As long as two are ready to agree».
I hardly dared breathe, as I sat there motionless so as not to bump into Lana again and feel that hot skin brush against me, unexpectedly smooth like a poplar-leaf. Lana said nothing. The old man’s gaze lighted first on me, then on her, as if he could no longer recognise us.
«Are you at least going to eat?»
Neither of us said anything.
«All right then. Since you don’t want to eat, I’m going to go off and say my prayers. When I come back we’ll cat together».
Khamata pulled his broad-rimmed white felt hat down over his eyes, rose with one quick jerk, and set off down to the river: he needed to splash his face with before praying and wash his hands and feet. Tall and dignified, he set off without hurrying as if he was counting as he stepped over all the piles of hay that stretched in even rows right across the slope. Other old men could be seen coming up over the hills, also wearing white felt hats. They too were going down to the river for their ablutions: it was time for their mid-day prayer. It was almost as if Khamata had given them the signal to assemble.
It would take him ten minutes to get down there and as many to say his prayers and then there would be plenty of talking to the other old men - we would have nearly an hour alone! Lana’s breaths were coming unevenly, her breasts roe and fell, and her mouth was open just wide enough for the tiny end of her tongue every now and then to lick her sun-parched lips.
We are sitting close to each other and a tiny move is all I have to make to touch her. Lana feels my gaze, lifts her head, and welook at each other. In her eyes there appears an expression I have not seen before, a gentle elusive look, like a ripple of warmth in the summer air, and then she lowers her eyelids as if she wants to hide from me an enormous secret. I turn away and, without seeing it, I look down at the steep slope, feeling somehow taken aback at the decision I have suddenly made, that the rest of my life shall be linked to my home village, to this native earth of mine and Lana... That morning, the hay-making, Khamata and Lana have resolved it shall be so.