I poured Saltanat and her bouquet consisting of a single softball-sized flower—a Chinese rose, said the saleswoman, and an ornamental cabbage, albeit a lovely one, said I—into a cab last night about 8 p.m. It was bitter cold and she was pretty trashed. She was already well oiled when she showed up some three hours, a few beers and fistful of long, skinny cigarette earlier at the bar and bistro she suggested.
It’s a nasty place, and is often known by its first name, the American Pub, which tells you all you need to know about who hangs out there. Last night over the TV spots and a pool game we were entertained by the besotted braggadocio of some English-speaking mine workers just off a 10-straight-day shift at the Canadian-run Kumtor gold mine, supposedly the world’s highest.
Saltanat wasn’t navigating too well before I accompanied her to get flowers for a friend of hers who, after three daughters, had just given birth to her first boy-child. In doing so, her friend salvaged her standing amongst her husband’s family. In traditional Kyrgyz culture, it is the duty of the youngest son to remaining living with his parents and to care for them until their end. That also means he moves his blushing bride into his parent’s household, where they too will raise their family.
Saltanat, for her part, had just formally ended a four-plus-year marriage that produced one son. Her ex was his parents’ youngest son. So she was overjoyed, downright giddy, at the prospect of being single and fancy free when she shared the good news with everyone within earshot about three weeks earlier. The poor dear has been celebrating ever since. I apparently was her grief counselor last night.
“Thank you, Mr. Seamus,” she said, folding herself into the back seat. “Think nothing of it,” God knows, you probably won’t remember any of it.