A Portrait of the Abdullaev Family of Dushanbe Tajikistan

Figure 1.--

Tajikistan’s spring sunshine bathed Dushanbe in warmth and colour. It was a welcome contrast to the stormy weather the city had experienced over the last couple of weeks. I was glad that the day was warm and dry. I had to go over to a part of the city I was not familiar with. I knew that I would have to spend time searching for the address. This is no pleasure in a heavy thunderous rainstorm. My journey began when I waved down a taxi. I had the directions sketched out in English but this was not much help to the taxi driver as he was not an English speaker. I gestured that I would show him the way. Unfortunately, this was the day world leaders were visiting the country and the road I wanted to take was closed. The taxi went another route which I did not know. Fortunately the road led to the Railway Station and I then had my bearings. What we were doing was heading in the direction I wanted to go but in getting there we were cutting through side streets. This was good geography because I had never travelled this way before and I learnt about this new route.

Once on the Airport Road the taxi stopped at an apartment complex which I thought was where I wanted to go. The purpose of my journey was to see a family whose son featured in a media presentation I was making. I was taking the rough copy for them to view and okay its contents regarding the musical contribution their boy had made. I took out the roughly sketched map which had been drawn from telephone instructions. I followed this to the letter and found an apartment complex which resembled the pattern on my map. The first mistake was of a dyslexic nature. My mind switched digits. I searched for building 33 and apartment 26 instead of the other way round. I found I was at the wrong home. Still believing I was in the correct building I went to apartment 33 but this was also incorrect. I then realised my mistake and went in search of the correct address.

My visit to the wrong apartment block was not entirely in vain. From the 4th floor I was able to take several photographs of Dushanbe and the surrounding mountains. Back on the street I began asking people for directions. My poor command of Russian and the fact that my directions were written in English were not very helpful. The humorous situation developed in which lots of people were stopping each other to help a foreigner get to where he wanted to go.

The drama ended when a couple of young guys in their early 20’s came along and said, ‘can we be of help?’ They immediately grasped the situation and said ‘Follow us. The apartment is over here.’ So I followed and I was taken to an apartment complex that I had visited earlier but thought that it was not the right one. It was. On my first visit I missed the large number 26 on the apartment block wall. We turned the corner where there were lots of kids playing and a young boy emerged from the group. He said, ‘Mr. Bill you have found us!’ I thanked my guides who waved goodbye and went on their way.

The boy was a youth of about 12, he was wearing track shoes, jeans, T-shirt and baseball cap. I was guided by the boy to his apartment. We walked up a flight of stairs. At the top was apartment 33. He knocked and his mum opened the door. She was glad to see me because she had become concerned by my non-arrival.

I had at least had my curiosity satisfied for I wondered how a prodigy dresses for a musical recital. Surely the imagine portrayed in film and literature of a stage costume from a bye-gone era is not really the clothes a modern day talented child would wear. At the school concert Khurshed wore his school uniform, a brown suit. For the Saturday evening performance he wore a relaxed combination of fashionable casual clothes, smart but cool looking.

Mum and her sons were amused by my endeavour to find their apartment. Khurshed said had had waited outside for quite awhile. I was invited into the lounge. The child prodigy I had come to meet was the 12 year old boy who had met me in the court yard. I had brought several gifts for the boys. A book about music and two audio C.D’s about English composers. These I gave to them.

Dilshod, his older brother came into the room with coffee and refreshment. He was a more serious boy than his brother. He said that he too could play the piano but only for his personal amusement. His talent was in the science subjects which he was very interested in. He soon showed that he was very knowledgeable about computers and knew much about their inner workings and the creative use they could be put to. It was obvious that he had recognised me but I could not recall seeing him before. Then he remembered were we had met. He said. ‘I have met you before. It was 2 years ago when my school visited a science fair. You were demonstrating digital cameras. You took my photograph and I saw it on the computer screen. It was the first time I had seen this type of camera.’ The event of two years previously was brought back to mind and I was amazed that this should still be apart of a young person’s memory. I thought back to the science fair and recalled the photographs I had taken that day. I remember one boy who came to our stand soon after the exhibition opened. He was very inquisitive and asked many questions. I was amazed by his command and fluency of English in a child so young. He stayed for some considerable time watching the computer program I had made. Afterwards when I viewed the photography I wished I could give him a copy of his picture. Unfortunately I had made no record of who he was. I made several attempts to find someone who could identify the pupil but no-one seemed to know him. Now 2 years later and by chance I had found the boy and at long last could give him his picture.

Khurshed could speak 3 languages fluently. These were Russian, Tajik and English. His knowledge of English was good and allowed our conversation without the need of his brother to act as interpreter. We talked about school and the subjects Khurshed liked. His favourites were languages, history, computers and maths. Khurshed said he disliked geography. He liked sport in general and tennis in particular. Unlike his brother he is disinterested in most science subjects. Khurshed thought that he would like to learn another language and his mum confirmed that she was hoped to find a teacher of French shortly. He reads books mainly in Russian and Tajik. He was very interested in Harry Potter because he had seen the films and he asked many questions about the novels. He wanted to be a design engineer in the auto industry when he was older. Designing futurist cars was a particular passion he had. His older brother also had a similar idea for his adulthood.

Mum wrote poetry so it seems that this is a talented family. She has had a book of her poems published. She was reluctant to read examples of her work but after my encouragement she did. Her poetry was moving for its theme was about the philosophical need to find happiness by feeding a person’s spiritual needs. Sadly there was no father to share in the evening's activities. Mum and dad had divorced 3 years previously.

We went into the study room which doubled as the boy’s bedroom. There was a cage containing the family pet budgerigars. Their names were Margaret and John. The family computer was in this room and it was clear that the boys used it the most. First we viewed the slide presentation. It needed corrections. It was then that Khurshed’s older brother demonstrated that he had a much greater knowledge of computers than his brother. He immediately took over the controls and got the power point show up and made sure that the corrections were made to the program. Dilshod stored the corrected slide on a floppy disc for me to insert into the program when I returned home.

We viewed the C.D disks I’d brought. First we previewed the audio disks. Khurshed listed to the music of Elgar, only asking questions about the composer after the track he had listened to was over. It was the same for the next disc which was a compilation of classical pieces by many different composers. He was deeply interested in a C.D Rom disc called The Encyclopaedia of Music. He enjoyed watching the video clips of orchestral music and his fingers imitated the movements the players made. He was lost to the music. I remained quiet throughout observing the boy’s reaction to the recordings.

After viewing the programs we returned to the lounge. We had more coffee while we chatted. Khurshed talked about the music he was playing for me that evening. He told me that music was his hobby and he had little desire to be a young professional performer. This does not mean that he does not enjoy playing before an audience because he does. He said that sometimes he felt uncomfortable when an audience continued talking while he played. This is something Chopin did not like either. However it is an aspect of Tajikistan theatre going that the audience talk. It was the norm in Britain too until relatively recently. I have found that having chattering in the background during a concert takes some getting used to. This does not always happen however.

Khurshed explained that he had only been playing the piano for a year. From hearing his previous school performance I thought that he had made very remarkable progress. Just how good I was able to judge because a few days previous I had attended a children’s concert. They had been learning the piano over a similar time scale. This would be a good yard stick to compare theirs and Khurshed’s playing. The children played well but their performance reflected their newness to the piano. They played their best and it was enjoyable watching them and listening to developing talent. The tunes were there but as expected their ability to reflect feeling and the emotion of the music was an area they needed to develop. This was not so with Khurshed’s playing.

Khurshed talked about the music he was going to play. He did not have a musical score to read. The score was in his head. He played without having the music before him. He did admit that he had rehearsed the pieces he was to play over the previous few days. There would be seven pieces including music by Bach, Beethoven and Schubert. The first piece was by Bach. Khurshed played. He made the piano make music. The emotions of the composer could be felt. Khurshed played with great feeling. He had that intense look pianists have as they play. They seem to be in another place only shared by the audience in the feelings they felt as the musician played.

Wow, it was powerful playing. I was mesmerized. I watched Khurshed’s fingers travel across the keys. His lightness of touch, than a little heavier, gave an emotional interpretation that few 12 year olds could accomplish, after so short a time learning the piano. I felt that he knew at 12, what many adult pianists have spent long hours perfecting. I was transfixed and it is a long time since I had this experience from piano music when a friend’s uncle Hugh played for me.

His mum, brother and I listened to this gifted boy pianist and then the recital was over. Khurshed was exhausted from his playing. He looked like someone who had been driving for many hours and was now happy at having arrived at the destination. He was pleased that in pursuing his hobby he had achieved excellence and shared his love of music with others.

I was pleased to have spent an evening with a remarkable family. Their home was no different from the many homes in the Western world. The boys were not precocious youngsters. They were ordinary children. They dressed in fashionable clothes and looked no different than the other children on the block. Khurshed would easily merge into the crowd because of his ordinariness. I left for home knowing that I had been treated to something very special and that the event would remain in my memory for some considerable time to come.

William E. Fergusson


Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[The 1880s] [The 1890s] [The 1900s] [The 1910s] [The 1920s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s]
[The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]

Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Long pants suits] [Knicker suits] [Short pants suits] [Socks] [Eton suits] [Jacket and trousers] [Blazer] [School sandals] [School smocks] [Sailor suits] [Pinafores] [Long stockings]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Page
[Return to the Main Tajik country page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Satellite sites] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: May 3, 2003
Last updated: May 3, 2003