If you go along breaths in the bank of the river Bering in Sibir, you will run into a village Vatirkan, which is called by local Russian people Hatirka. This means in the chukcha language dry and narrow place. Who knows, maybe, it indicates to unfruitful ground of the village, which is situated in plain. Their ground demonstrates that the people of the village aren’t occupied with agriculture. The main resource of living is fishing. In the low part of the village the river Vatirkan flows. Its water as cold as ice. The people usually go fishing to this river. Accomplished fishermen even go to the banks of the river Bering. The caught fish is sent to a plant that is situated in another village, where the fish is reproduced. They may take both money and products in exchange. The reason why I am telling all these events is that my destiny conducted me to this village. The sky seemed sad, everywhere was covered by white snow. Everything began after making acquaintance with a girl named Akana in Anadir. She had squinting eyes, fair hair, her skin was a little bit black. I don’t what attracted me in this girl. Her kind eyes unbelievably became so intimate to me that. I was unhappy unless I saw her. Although she also loved me, I couldn’t open my heart. But one day I had to say everything to her as she told me she was leaving the village forever. My heart beat uncontrollably.
“My father Coockie, is calling for me. He is old. He wants me to marry while he is alive” – she said.
“Akana”, – I said knowing it was convenient situation to open my heart, – “ if you are going to get married, I want to be your husband. I love you…”
“I knew”, – she said – “but I can’t marry to you.”
“Why, Akana… But we love each other.”
“Right – unexpectedly the admitted and started to cry. If I were chukcha or Russian I would marry to you but I am kereck.”
“Kereck?” – he astonished.
Because he had never heard this nation before. He thought that it was a higher estate of chukcha and said to girls:
“I don’t care your nation. Or do you look down on uzbek? In our country people of higher estate don’t want their children to be married with those, whose estate is lower. But all this is nonsense. Since people are the generation of Adam and Eve, so we don’t need such flaunting?!”
“No, Avaz, you misunderstood me” – she looked at me sorrowfully. I appreciate you, but our position is different. This is another term Kereck people are very few in the world. I read in some book that we are considered as one of the ten disappearing nations. In fact, our nation is disappearing.”
“How many you are?” – something appeared in my throat.
“We all are eight. It is terrible. We are disappearing. Understandable.”
“Yeah, Akana. I see it’s very hard. I am not so foolish that doesn’t understand Kereck tragedy, but I can’t live without you. Give me a chance.”
“No”, – she rejected – “There’s a Kereck boy who is to marry me. My father wants me to give him.”
“But what happens to our love?..”
“I don’t need my love at the point when my nation is disappearing?.. Please, forgive me.” She ran away with her eyes full of tears. I was left with broken heart in Anadir. She abandoned the village. I was shocked and a week couldn’t believe. Day and night I couldn’t forget her. After all, I came to Vatirkan following her. I flew on helicopter to Kharkhatain. Afterwards, I remained going in the car. A boy named Misha that worked in diesel electro station helped me to reach my destination. All around there were wooden walls and wooden houses that became black due to snow. They seemed as if they were burnt. As Misha explained there mainly lived chukcha and Russian people. I asked him about Kerecks., but he shrugged and inattentively said:
“Maybe. Why do you need them?”
“I am an anthropologist. I had to lie Misha. I couldn’t tell about Akana suddenly saying that I came from another part of the world because my love. That was strange in our period, when true love is hardly found. When we reached the place Misha asked:
“Hey, anthropologist where are you going to stay at?”
“I haven’t thought before” – I told the truth.
“Come with me. I live alone here. My wife Nika doesn’t like Vatirkan. She won’t come if she doesn’t want to. During the whole day I work. So you can stay with me.” I was delighted by the offer of a open-hearted boy. When you are far away, this kind of offers make you really happy. You believe in God stronger. So, I went to Misha’s house. It was wooden like others.
“This house actually belongs to my aunt Darya, but after her death, ten years before, the house was left to me.”
“Understandable”, – I said.
After settling down I started to inquire Akana and kerek people. A chukcha gazed at me
“You, Uzbek came searching the Coockies daughter. Evil, she went to Anadir to find a husband. Besides Coockie’s always complains that chukcha are swallowing Kereck people without knowing what his daughter is doing.
I hardly can stand of his words. In other cases I would defienetly teach how to talk with him, but he knew the people I was searching for so I calm down. He explained the Coockies house. I went to Kergentagina street and found his house. It was an old house. Akana opened the door. Firstly, she was happy but then started to be scared and said.
“You, anyway, came?..” – she looked at me frustratedly
“I want to meet your father.”
Akana and I went to Coockie. “Coockie” in the kerek language means crow. There is a myth about Cookie and his wife Mita. But Coockie I saw wasn’t similar to the one in the legend. His wife died long before. Akana told me about this in Anadir. Coockie was an old man, who is becoming older and older. His age is obvious only to God.
He listened my words that I am after to many his daughter furiously but in silence.
“What is your nationality?” – he asked.
“I am Uzbek.” – I said
“O. Uzbek people are kind. I’ve heard a lot. I assured myself again after meeting you. But understand, I can’t give my daughter to another nation. You wasted your time coming from such a long distance. Akana will marry only to Kereck.”
“I love her.”
Coockie ironically smiled and opened his heart full of pain.
“Thanks to the endless and senseless love, our nation is disappearing.
A friend of mine from Russia has shown me a list of population recently. After the World War II, Kereck people were left a little bit more than a hundred. I think, at that time we had opportunity to save our nation. But everything should have been controlled correctly. We did need to live in one place. Make our wife to give birth more children and give our daughters only to Kereck men. It was better a Kereck man had more than one wife that our daughter married to a man of other nations. But we did all on the contrary. What are consequences? Chukcha people swallowed us. My Russian friend calls it adaptation. I know, we were a lot before. We were slowly lost. Moving, the epedemy smallpox, the cold of the river, sending the war and love romances like yours were the reasons of disappearing our nation. When German soldiers invaded to Russia my father bagged about not sending Kereck people to the war. The commander Timofey Vozdukhov agreed and said: –“Ok – none of Kereck will go the war.” Afterward, he ordered to his soldiers to kill all Kereck men because they won’t go to the war. These kind of mess happened at that time. Who knows?! Not long before they counted us like pigs are counted. We live eight left. We are in Minipilgino and Hachkhatain. There are not Kereck people in other place. But we were nearly thousand. Now our fingers are enough to count us. I know, after a few years we will disappear, but while we are alive, we speak in the Kereck language with each other, we will struggle to save our nation. So, I will not give you my daughter. There is no problem, if you fell in love! If you understand me, leave my house and never come back. If you return, you will know that we have disappeared.” Akana saw him off. I left their house with a sorrow in my heart. I had no fact, no reason to change his mind. My love was nonsense in compare to Coockie’s truth.Even I started to believe myself. In the yard I hugged her and kissed on forehead for the last time, she stayed calm. Her squinting eyes were full of tears.
“Leave the village soon, because this place is very cold,” – she said looking around.
“Akana,” – I said still hugging – “I understood everything. I will leave forever. Marry the Kereck man which your father wanted. Forget me. We will disappear for each other.”
After a short farewell I walked without looking back. I heard how she cried repentantly, but I couldn’t return. Walking along the streets, I noticed snow pieces on my clothes. It was snowing in Vatirkan…
2014 year 26th of August
Tashkent – Chilanzar
The river Bering, is called with the name of the seaman Vitus Bering (1681-1741), has a border with Chukcha autonomous Okrug, Russia.
This river separates the territory of USA and Russia.
Khatirka – is a village in the region Anadyr of Chukotka
In 2014 the population made up 367 people.
Vatirkan – Chukchas call Khatirka Vatirkan, which means dry and narrow place. Its population live on fishing. Mainly Chukcha and Russian people live there. There are also Kereck people in the village.
Chukchi – the nation that mainly live in the territories of Chukotka, Kamchatka, Magadan and the Republic of Saha. Russia registrated the number of Chukcha 15908 in Meynipilgino is village “big mouth”. Mainly Chukcha and Russian people live. The population made up 406 people in 2012. Kereck people also live in the village. Its territory 1.5 km2 (square kilometr). There is a factory that reproduces fish.
Anadyr – a port town and the administrative center of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia. It was founded in 1889. Until 1923 it had been called Novomarinsk. In 1965 it took a states of a region. According to statistics of 2014 its population made up 14029 people. There is also a fish factoring in Anadyr.
Kereck – Chukchas call this nation Kereket.
In 2002 in Russian census they were only eight people. In 2010 they were 40 people. But in 1959 they were more than a hundred people. A Russian writer Andrey Belkovskiy on his historical ocherk “Chukotka without Kereck” mentions that the Kereck people were 600 in 1897 and in 1901 they were 644. Andrey Belkovskiy writes that in the census between 1926 and 1927 they were 315. Nowadays, the Kereck people in the territories of Vatirkan and Meynipilgino and also in Khachkhatain.
Khachkhatain is nowadays called Berinovskiy. The Kereck people call it Gachkhatain (Khachkhatain), which mean the end of twitter.
According to the census of 2013 in Khachkhatain 1102 people lived.
Kergitaina – one of the streets of Vatirka, where the Kereck people lived.
Coockie and his wife Mita – the legend and fairy tale of the Kereck people. In 1971 Leontev wrote it in Meynipilgino. The legend tells about Cookie, the crow, and his wife Mita. They struggled to feed their children and save their life. As if this legend reflects the destiniy of the Kereck people.
(Assimilation) Adaptation – from latin it means “to be alike”. If we look deeper sociologically, it means inclusion. Assimilation of nations means combination of defined nations with other nations. The Kereck people mainly assimilated with Chukcha.
Sherzod Komil Khalil was born on 13th September in 1982 in Kitab district, Kashkadarya region of Uzbekistan. He studied at Uzbekistan National University for Bachelor of philosophy from 1999 to 2003. Sherzod gained a master degree in Modern philosophy and history of the West from 2003 to 2005. He also studied for Higher Literature Course. Sherzod worked as a philosophy teacher at Tashkent institute of textile and light industry. Now Sherzod Komil Khalil is a freelance writer. He lives in Moskow.