The Friend Who Had Introduced a Foe

Category: Articles Published: Monday, 13 July 2020

Annotation. This article was published in Uzbek in 2004 in the newspaper “O`zbekiston adabiyoti va san’ati” (The Literature and Art of Uzbekistan). The article compares the images of Otabek and Master Alim in the novel “The Days Gone By” by Uzbek writer Abdulla Qodiriy. The importance of these images in expressing the novel’s artistic philosophy and the writer’s concept of the epoch is revealed. The author of the article substantiates the fact that A. Qodiriy, observing the changes in the Uzbek society in the beginning of the XX century, came to the conclusion that both types of people, such as the new thinker, who relies on his own mind, will, and strength as well as the old thinker, who remains on the conservative position, are imperfect.

 There has been expressed a lot of ideas about the story of Master Alim, which is included in the novel “The Days Gone By”. In general, there is no doubt that the image of the Master Alim plays an important role in the development of the plot, providing the logical connection of its parts, and in presenting the symbol of “friend” intrinsic to folklore and classical epic tradition. We are more interested in another issue – in the role of this image, which was drawn with special accuracy by such a thinker as A.Qodiriy, in expressing the novel’s artistic philosophy and the writer’s concept of the epoch…

 A.Qodiriy, due to the nature of his creative style and personal character traits, differs significantly from, for example, Cholpon or Fitrat. If we take into account that Cholpon and Fitrat were engaged in active social life until the mid-20s, and A.Qodiriy, who, first of all, was not as active as they were, soon completely withdrew from it, this difference becomes obvious. What we are trying to say is that, while Cholpon and Fitrat lived inside of the social process, the social process lived inside of A.Qodiriy. The fact that in the early 20s he has already created such a work of art, as “The Days Gone By”, proves that in the writer’s evolution the process of transformation from the instructor to an artist began relatively early. A.Qodiriy by his nature was not a “man of action”, but rather a “man of observation”, and only due to this peculiarity of his personality his epoch became an aesthetic object for him also relatively earlier than it did for others…

People born with an artistic gift (especially, observers) usually are more conservative. Although the word “conservatism” gained a negative connotation during the previous century of revolutions, in fact, conservatism in the best sense is very important in development – it is focused on a careful comparison of old and new, in taking actions considering all their positive and negative features, and thus in moving forward gradually. In our opinion, Otabek, who is presented in the “The Days Gone By” as a man of a new era, and the old type of man – the Master Alim – are contrasted with each other. Of course, the existence of an internal contradiction does not negate the strong external connection between them and does not prevent them to become inseparable friends. For the contradiction we are referring to is the unity of opposites related to the dialectical concept.

Jadidism, in a certain sense, was also materialism. At least, we can find the traces of materialism in the ideas that a person can change the society, and that by improving people it is possible to make changes in society, or in such views encoded in the interpretations of the images of Muhammadiyor (Cholpon) and Olimjon (Hamza) as the person creates his fate on his own. Yes, the conditions that emerged at the beginning of the last century changed the status of the individual in society, making him active in social and economical aspects, and brought out people who started to think, as it was mentioned above, in a new way. These people felt deeply that in the changing social environment, an individual started to get more and more tied to his place in society, to his living conditions, his future, and, moreover, to himself – his own intellect, mind and will, to his entrepreneurship, and efficiency, which led to a change in the way of thinking. Otabek in the interpretation of A.Qodyriy can be seen as one of the swallows (the early representatives) of people with a new way of thinking. Otabek is a person who longs for innovation and change, the one, who dreams of making changes. On the contrary, the life style as well as the way of thinking of Master Alim is different: he does his daily work relying on God, and his life is flowing by its course…

Undoubtedly, Otabek is a “young man worthy of the khan’s daughter”, that was unanimously admitted by the meeting of his father’s friends in Margelan city, and even Homid, who sees in Otabek a strong rival, also feels it deep in his heart, although he does not openly admit it. Importantly, Otabek is a guy who knows his worth, a guy who values himself highly. Therefore, although he said in a conversation with Rahmat that “the husband should also be likeable to his wife”, in reality it turned to be different from what he said: he did not ask his bride, if she likes him or not – Kumush’s anguish before the wedding can be explained from this point. Well, let’s put it as following: Hasanali hastened the course of events, arranging matchmaking, and Otabek stayed unaware of it. However, there is another point that 

supports our opinion: when after the successful matchmaking Hasanali congratulated Otabek with coming wedding, the only question that disquieted Otabek was: “to which of Kutidor’s daughters?”. True, he was confused for a while, but when he found out that they were talking about a girl who was worthy of him, “there was not clear from his expression if he is happy or sad. He did not object to the issue of engagement, and he did not reveal the joy either”. We see that Otabek accepted the news about his marriage to Kumush as granted, which is a sign of his high selfesteem and self-confidence.


Interestingly, we encounter a similar situation in the story of Master Alim.

However, for Master Alim, Saodat is a miracle, a wonderful miracle of the Creator.

For this reason for a long time, he does not dare to ask Saodat for marriage, saying: “I

could not imagine such a happiness for myself, as marrying to Saodat”. The fragment

of the story, when Master Alim was waiting for the matchmaker to come out from

Saodat’s house, confirms it: “I could not calm down: could not work, could not stay

in one place, now standing here and then sitting there, with different thought in my

mind I felt as I was demented… several times I walked close to Saodat’s door, my

heart dropped and pulled me back as I saw the matchmaker coming out, so I just

walked away, because it was unbearable to meet him and to face the truth”. After

getting a happy message, he says: “I was not ashamed of tears fulled my eyes”.

Unlike Otabek, Master Alim accept his marriage to Saodat as a will of Allah, and his

eyes full of tears are sign of gratitude.


It is noteworthy that Otabek, hearing the story of the Master Alim,

involuntarily begins to compare himself with the host, which, in our opinion, is a

signal the writer sent to us, his invitation to compare these images. Let’s compare.

Master Alim’s story astonished the guest so much that he “could not stop looking at

this love incarnation, that was lying on the floor in front of him. Not in the past of the

master, but in his status, he saw a great meaning”. Even in his future he could not

find anything but emptiness, he still felt another great meaning. So, what is that

looked like “an emptiness” and still making “another great meaning” future of the

Master, in whose status Otabek could see “some great meaning”? The answer is in

the last words of the Master Alim: “Now I am thinking only of arranging a marriage

for my brother-in-law and then… then entering with a light heart in the Saodat’s

embrace…” We believe, that this sentence carries two different meanings. On the

surface, Master Alim dreams of fulfilling his duties in this world and on the Day of

Judgment with light heart meet his late wife – Saodat. On the bottom there are – and

perhaps this is even more important for the writer – the ideas related to Eastern

philosophy, such as: the happiness of the mortal world is as transient as it is, and a

person can achieve eternal happiness only if he sincerely performs the tasks assigned

to him. Note: Master Alim does not say “to die”, he does not say “to hand over the

soul” – he says “to enter into the embrace of Saodat (the name of his late wife means

“Happiness”)”. Only a person who understands the happiness he enjoyed in the

mortal world as the grace of Allah and hopes for his share of happiness in the eternal

world can think this way. Perhaps this is why in his letter Qanoatshah says, “Otabek

was martyred in our first front line along with another man”, and even nowhere the

name of Master Alim was mentioned, no one doubts that this “another man” is

Master Alim. Since, for Master Alim, this is another step on the path to the eternal

“embrace of his happiness”…


We got distracted of our topic. If we return to the Otabek’s observations, we

see that Otabek wants to “see his own future similar to this Master’s one” but it is lack

of only one word: ‘dead’. However, after careful thinking, he realized that even by

adding this word “dead” to his own story, it will be still hard for him to become

Master Alim. So what does prevent it? Otabek’s comment is as follows: “He was

scolded and thrown away by Kumush. While, master Alim has not been insulted or

abandoned by Saodat, he was not chased away as a beast by his father-in-law… and

his father-in-law did not set a trap for him and did not intend to take Saodat out, that

is, devilish did not intervene into their life…”. It is true that devilish intervened into

Otabek’s life. However, it is noteworthy that the words “devilish” is understood in

three different meanings – one for Otabek, another one for the reader and the third

one for the writer. Naturally, for the reader, who is following the plot, the devilish

means Homid and his companions. Unaware of Homid’s tricks, Otabek believes that

his father-in-law’s heart is obsessed: that’s why he agreed to Otabek’s second

marriage and gave his parents hand in arranging it. So, what about the author, what

content does he load on that word? The writer states about the protagonist’s

conclusion that “the last thought he constructed without thinking, out of inspiration

only.” In other words, the author says that the idea that settled in Otabek’s mind and

did not leave until the secret was revealed is “fabricated”. In other words, the devilish

first of all captured Otabek’s imagination. So why did such a smart young man as

Otabek succumb to the devilish? The reason for this is again his high self-esteem and

high self-confidence. Banished by his father-in-law – Kutidor, Otabek was hurt

deeply, his soul suffered and thus opened his mind palace to the devilish. The writer

says that the heart of Otabek, who was humiliated beyond beliefs “was as empty as

the nest of sparrow, whose children has flown away”. True, his love for Kumush had

not disappeared, but his aching soul had completely tormented him – paralyzed him.

Later, the wise Kumushbibi writes in her letter, “I understood on my own way, why

you have been coming to Margelan for two years, but I think, I guessed correctly: all

your hardships were to get revenge on your foes. Otherwise you would come to see

me…”, and she is partly right. We say partly, because the desire to take revenge on

his enemies arose in Otabek only in the last days of his two-year wanderings, after he

recognized his enemy. However, Kumush is close to the truth: after all, Otabek did

not seek to meet her and to clarify their relationship troubles. So what was the point

of his wandering around for two years? It is no coincidence that this question

surprises not only Kumush, but also Mirzakarim Kutidor and Yusufbek Hadji.

Well, “the secret was revealed”, Otabek took revenge on his enemies, and, as

Master Alim puts it, “gave them properly what they deserved.” Look at the game of

destiny: it made Otabek a friend of Master Alim, and through Master Alim

introduced him his enemy. So, did Otabek draw the appropriate conclusions from

this? In our opinion, no, he did not. In everything that has happened he still does not

see the hand of fate, but puts himself and his actions ahead. While conveying a

relieving message of the deliverance to Kutidor (when Otabek killed the criminals),

Master Alim assures him: “These all are matter of fate, uncle, you and I – we have

nothing to do with it in the meantime.” When Kutidor expresses his rightful surprise

by saying: “If he was upset with me, he could send some middlemen to solve it. Why

did not he do it?”, Master Alim delivers him Otabek’s humble question: “Would the

person who did not believe myself trust anyone who would speak for me?”. To his

fathers question: “Why did not you inform me about all of this for such a long time?”,

Otabek answered: “It did not seem properly to ask for help from my friends who put

me into this maelstrom.” Note: In both cases, Otabek’s “I” comes forward,

demonstrating his strong ego. One instinctively wonders: What was, after all, more

important for Otabek: to resolve the problem or to satisfy his aching soul? It seems

difficult to provide a clear and firm answer to this question. The reason is that Otabek

was hurt so much, that, as Master Alim mentioned, he was even ready to give up with

his beloved wife just because she was a daughter of the Kutidor. By coincidence,

Otabek recognized his enemy, he also got his chance to unravel the knot tied up by

“the devilish” on the way that satisfied his wounded ego. That feeling of satisfaction

can be seen in the words “your banished son” he used to sign the letter to his fatherin-

law Kutidor, as well as in the core of details he put in his letter addressed to



There is a part of purpose in providing similar tragic finale for the love stories

of both characters. That gives us a right to see here a comparison and an invitation to

compare. Master Alim saw his marriage to Saodat as a grace of Allah, and when he

lost her, he suffered endlessly, and tears flowed from his eyes. Could he resist to

divine destiny? No, he could not. He accepted it. He lived with “some great meaning”

in his status, keeping enormous sorrow in his heart, dreaming of “entering the

embrace of Saodat” in the afterlife. That is the reason why his suffering elevates him,

his tears purify and his sorrow is filled with light. Otabek did not accept happiness of

marrying to Kumush as a gift of destiny, consequently he did not see a hand of fate in

his loss. He also carries his share of suffering in his soul, but it lacks of light, since it

is replaced in his heart by bitterness, malice and hatred. That is why “when Kutidor

after saying farewell got into the carriage, from the street side Otabek came. He

grabbed the reins of the horse, and said to Hasanali, who was sitting on it going to

ride: “Get off the horse!” Hasanali dismounted. Otabek jumped on the horse and

asked Kutidor:


– Shall we go?..” He left and returned to Tashkent only in a year, “his parents

could not dare to resent him. Neither to father nor to mother he talked openly. After

that he never came back to Tashkent, several times Uzbek-ayim herself visited them

in Margelan…”. So, who was his anger addressed to? Who was the subject for his

malice? His parents or his fate? How could such a rancour and resentment grow in

the heart of the slave of Forgiving Allah? Isn’t it the breath of the devilish echoing

here? While punching HIMSELF by one end of stick, the one who holds the stick has

to expect a strike from another end of the same stick.


At the beginning of our speech we said that the story of Master Alim is

important in expressing the writer’s concept of the epoch. A. Qodiriy, observing the

changes in his time and in people of his time, considered both the new-thinking man,

who believed in his intellect and power, as well as the old-thinking man, to be

imperfect. Presenting them as two of a kind, he made them inseparable – soul-mates

with similar fate, and in the end put them “on the front line of the battle”. This is

conservatism in a good sense. Close to the end of the previous century we have

witnessed the spiritual breakdown of the people, who chose to worship a man and the

people, creating the cult of personality (Stalin) and the party (Communistic). Their

ruined hearts with such an emptiness “as the nest of sparrow, whose children has

flown away” soon were filled up by hatred and protest. From that point, it feels like

the inclusion of the Master Alim’s story in the novel was a prophecy, an expression

of a truth, a message inputted into great artist’s mind by the divine providence.



Dilmurod Kuronov. (2004). The Friend Who Had Introduced a Foe.

O`zbekiston adabiyoti va san’ati.

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