When he came to Talas
Chasing after the limping Eški [temtengdetip]
Zulayka had a dream one day.
In her dream she saw at night
She saw wonderful things.
In her dream she saw that
She was together with the hunter.
She hadn’t heard from him
In her dream Kojojash
Came to a place in Talas.
Zulayka had indeed missed
Her beloved, the hunter
When she saw him alive.
She was happy about her dream,
Her spirit was raised (high),
She wanted to go looking for
Her husband she was married to.
In the morning, Zulayka
Thought to look for him
Having many thoughts in mind:
“The only child’s fate is this, indeed,
We haven’t inquired about
The brave hunter, the only child.
Many years have passed since then
He has gone for far away,
He’s got no relative to care for him,
He is the only son of my father-in-law.”
Zulayka was quite determined
And anxious to search for him.
Very early in the morning,
Karïpbay came running,
Did you hear from him, he asked
From his daughter-in-law.
Her answer is as follows
To her father-in-law:
“Your son had gone far away,
You’re weak to search for him,
What should we do now?”
The father[-in-law] said to his daughter-in-law:
“My, daughter, I’m anxious to see
My only son whom I raised with love,
Even if you are women, you are wise,
Please tell what you know
To the people of Karakojo.
When I, Karïp, your old father[-in-law]
Die after my time comes [kazatim jetip olgondo]
Who will cry among my people
By saying out loud 'Oh, my dear father!'?
Please tell us what you know,"
Karïpbay said to his daughter-in-law.
Being separated from her love
Zulayka felt like she was in flame.
She is embarrassed to put on mourning clothes
Marking the death of her husband, the hunter.
Taking her father[-in-law’s] advice,
Despite the fact she was a woman
She got ready herself to go
Searching for her husband.
Saying, "Where will I find him?"
Zulay[ka] got ready to go.
Her father[-in-law] wept:
“Oh, my dear child,”[1] he said,
“Among the twenty families of Kïtay,
There was no one to search for him.
These naughty people, who are used to taking,
Didn’t listen to me without my son.”
Zulayka said to him the following:
“Please don’t be sad, my father,
If your only 'crow-like' son
Returns home one day
Your pain will go away,
I'm going to find the hunter.”
Karïp said the following:
“My dear,[2] my light,
May your wish come true,
Go and find yourself
Your own friend and partner,
I will pray for your safety.”
Her father[-in-law] gave his blessing,
Shining like a moon, Zulayka
Came to the ak örgöö.
She thought every single day
About her hunter pursuing Eški.
She stood hopeful by saying
She wouldn’t find him in short time,
If he is indeed alive in this world.
She rolled up and tied her dress,
Berenji, around her waist now,
And tied her šarïk shoes
Tightly onto her feet now.
She put on a tebetey[3] on her head,
It was quite clear now
That she’d go searching after him.
She didn’t say anything to his kinfolk,
She didn’t ask anyone to join her
In her search for Kojojash.
She put up her hair like kunduz
On her head, they say,
She put on men’s clothes, they say,
Zulayka’s search for [Kojojash],
Only Karïpbay knew, they say.
She took food with her
To the missing hunter,
One can tell her affection from this,
Although Zulayka was a woman,
She set out from her camp, they say.
She took a strong walking stick, they say,
Her people didn’t know, they say
About Zulayka’s preparations
And determined departure.
There was no one to lead her,
The radiance of this white beauty’s face
Was not like before at all,
And no one knew when she left.
Zulayka set out by herself
Staying overnight at some places,
She lost her youth and was in pain.
“Where will I find the hunter?” she said,
Her attempts were very great,
But there were no roads in Ala-Too.
“I’ll find him anyway,” she said,
The soul of this beauty had suffered,
For the tragedy of the hunter
She had suffered a great deal.
To ask from someone on the way,
Kojojash was not a grazing animal.
Nor was he a naughty young boy
To disappear for no reason.
If she doesn’t sacrifice herself for her husband
That woman is not a faithful wife.
Zulayka was vigorous and strong,
She put her life in danger,
Her face turned yellow from hunger,
She kept looking and praying
For her honey, like Kojojash, [kürbal]
“The sly Eški had led him away
For a long period of time.
I have not lived long enough
To enjoy my youthful life.
I haven’t even noticed when
My flower on my forehead died.
I haven’t even lived six years in your camp
And haven’t served you enough
By being together with you.
Not two years have passed,
I have suffered for your loss.
There is no soul around here [Kak etken karga, kuzgun jok]
I made my soul suffer this way.
Because, hunter, you’re not with me
I could not fit alone in bed.”
Saying these laments
Zulayka had been crying,
Putting her only soul in pain
She had been suffering a lot.
With no good food to eat
She had gone weak and hungry.
Using the badal[4] trees as shelter
She slept under them.
Her two white radiant cheeks
Came peeling off [tülo]
By walking non-stop every day
She looked tired and worn out.
Wandering through many places
She had been walking a lot.
The red lights from her cheeks
Were slowly fading away now.
She shed tears as big as hail.
She went through mountains with pine trees,
And cliffs on which no black arkars can walk.
Rivers streaming down in the ravine
Echo with rocks hitting each other,
On the rock faces where no one walks,
On the trails where goats only walk,
She alone traveled in the wilderness.
Her soles became dull and slashed,
Misfortune had fallen onto her,
Her clothes were completely tattered,
Zulayka, chosen by [the hunter]
Had been suffering in wilds.
Not able to go over the pass,
Zulayka had spent some days
Sitting, not able to walk...
Zulayka grieved, but couldn’t find him,
She looked for him in the mountains,
Karagan, buta, and badals[5]
Tore her clothes' seam and sleeves,
She couldn’t tell where Talas was
Which she saw in her dream.
There was no plain in Ala-Too,
She had no sleep day and night,
The beauty was misled by her dream [?]
She wandered in all over Ala-Too,
Her heart was in great pain:
“You are, indeed, an ill-fated hunter
Who left his wife in misery.
You were born with a sad fate,
It’s time to let go Eški’s grudge.
I hope to take the hunter back
By pulling him from his vowed pledge.”
Zulayka with no strength left
Kept falling on the ground,
From time to time, she fell apart
Bursting out crying out loud.
“Oh, Kojojash, I really hope
My frantic voice will be heard by you. 
Days and months have passed,
You caused my white face sunburned and slashed,
And left your wife in distress
By going away after Eški.
When he reached the age of sixty,
You made your father beg [for alms].”
Lamenting and crying, Zulayka
Stayed overnight at some places, they say.
Finally, she found the wide Talas, they say,
The wide Talas with Kerme Too
Was indeed a vast land
With wide and steep slopes.
Its upper parts were cool pastures
With rivers streaming down everywhere.
She inquired about the name of this place
And learned that it was the place she’s seen in her dream.
It was exactly the place she saw in her dream,
It was an early springtime with
White snow melting, rivers running.
Zulayka, who had endured everything,
Who was the hunter’s beloved wife,
Not able to find her partner
Said the following words, they say.
At that time, the skilled hunter, Kojojash, the only child,
Had been chasing the desperate Eški,
With whom he had vowed,
In the black spring river bank.
From a distance she saw, they say
The silhouette of the hunter
And came closer to him, they say.
He was in middle of a great hunt
Chasing [Eški] like a young hawk.
“Come back, hunter!” she said,
“My only one, did already you forget me
And your people, who had your benefit
By having meat in their cauldron all the time
And by killing not one but two animals?" she said.
“Many months have passed since then,
I came looking for you,” she said.
When Kojojash saw Zulay[ka]
“Is it my dream or real?” he wondered.
The hunter sat down right away and sighed [?]
Holding a chunk of dirt tightly in his hand [šim]:
“I still cannot believe.
How did she come and find me?" he wondered.
Both got up from their places,
And greeted each other holding hands.
Both recognized each other,
Both had found each other.
“Not able to save your head from this pledge,
I see, you, the hunter, are still pursing
Stubbornly not leaving her alone.”
She sat with him for a while
Her powder-like face was gone
Zulayka had indeed become
Lean as a ravenous crane.
She’d traveled a long way
To look for her husband.
The hunter ceased his chase for a moment
To converse with his wife now.
Meanwhile Sur Eški
Ate some grass, drank some water
And was able to gain more energy.
Zulayka then said the following:
“Our lives have become sad,
I traveled for a long distance,
My dear only one,
Please understand my sorrow.
You should stop pursuing your oath,
Please let’s return to the camp.
Sartkoshšu, whom you consider your brother,
Was too young to come with me.
To my knowledge, in reality
He doesn’t seem to be your real brother.
Your parents became weak and old.
Don’t you think your pledge is over?
Please let’s return to the camp.
Don’t make your partner sad,
Don’t spend your youthful life
Wandering in wilderness.
Please listen to my words,
Don’t spend your young life
By not returning home."
Like a protective skylark,
Zulayka tried to convince him
Speaking sorrowfully to him:
“Since my early youth I suffered,
Being separated from you, my husband.
Both of us have lived miserable lives.”
Then the hunter said the following:
“Don’t be too sad, Zulayka,
My absence for a long time
Was not planned at all,
Nor was it seen in my dream.
One who breaks one’s promise
Is not considered a man.
I was very close to catch Eški
By reaching out to her with my hands.
If I hadn’t had this vow with her
Zulayka, I had no intent
To be a karïsh away from you.
This is my vowed pledge with her,
Please don’t grieve Zulayka,
I really can’t leave with you.
I had planned to catch Eški
Put my belt around her neck,
And bring her to my camp,
Showing them that the pledged Eški is indeed this one.
If I survive, I will bring her,
Why do you make your soul suffer much?
Go on with your life and take care of the old man,
Don’t make your soul suffer.
My pledge won’t be over until I catch her
By forcing me to go to the camp with you,
Zulayka, don’t cut my life short," he said.
“Eški had become tired,” he said,
“We have sat for long time now,
Eški has gained more energy
By nibbling some grass,” he said.
The hunter quickly got up from his place,
Shook her hands said goodbye, they say.
She was surprised by his words,
“The hunter has indeed lost his mind,” she thought,
Showing that she was upset
Zulayka turned back forcefully in wilderness.
The hunter pulled her by her hand,
“You should accept your fate,
Don’t wander in the wilderness,” he said.
Frowning and looking upset,
Zulayka threatened him that she will go back.
But Zulayka thought it over to herself:
“It’s difficult to break the vow,
He can’t end his pledge without catching her,
He has the responsibility on his shoulder.
There is no use taking him [with me],
He will live a short life at home.
So, I should not be mad at him,”
Zulayka pretended to speak smilingly
In order not to hurt him
Who had been away in the wilderness:
“Hunter, you should stay here,
If you're able to catch Eški,
You will come home one day,” she said,
“I’m too weak to walk with you
I would join you to chase [Eški],” she said.
“I’m happy to see you alive
And to tell you my words.
You’ll get misfortune at the end
From the iron [gun] on your shoulder.
I had told you many times
That you would only get misfortune.
I get frustrated listening to the words of
Enemies who are envious of us.
They’ll call me a miserable and angry widow
Who is separated from her husband.
Please don’t be mad at me,
For taking away your time,” she said,
"You should catch up with your quarry.
Do you have any words to send
To your grief-stricken old parents?
Please let your wife leave now.”
Kojojash, the hunter said these words:
“Putting your soul in pain,
You came looking for your partner.
Thank you for coming, my wife,
When you go home Zulayka
You tell your old man and woman
  That their son is safe and sound.
My love, don’t be mad at me
For not listening to you.
When I succeed to catch Eški,
There will come a day, my love,
We will sit together hugging each other.
If I’m unlucky, I will die early
Zulayka, you also know that.
I won’t be tired and exhausted,
Say hello to those who ask,
Your hunter is in a good shape like a racing horse.
I was very close catching her,
Too bad that we let the tired Eški
Get some rest [while we talked].
Farewell, good-bye,” he said to her
Zulayka came up and hugged
Her partner and said good-bye.
Zulayka returned to her people
Without being upset and mad.
The hunter resumed his chase
After Sur Eški, whereas
Zulayka returned to her people.
She is wise and she knows
How to deal with such a problem.
She had come looking for him
For she respected the hunter’s values.
Through the mountains with glaciers
She had come following the trails,
Through the fast flowing rivers,
And plains with no hills,
She had searched for her husband like that.
Safe and sound, Zulayka
Came home one day,
Her waist slender as a whip,
She is the wisest of wise men.
Noticing her arrival, Karïpbay
Came running to his daughter-in-law.
He asked his daughter-in-law whether he was alive,
After she had told that his son was fine,
His heart became relieved.
The poor old man, who had become weak
Now became strong as an iron.
It’s indeed a difficult matter when it comes to a child,
His heart, which had been depleted,
Became filled with joy in one day.
The father’s mind became relaxed,
Praying for his son’s safety.
The twenty families of the tribe
Had learned after she had left.
Some of them had come and asked
Whether he was alive or not.
Zulayka felt content for
She had seen him alive.
Her hunter remained in Talas.

1. Here, Karïpbay uses the traditional word of endearment “aylanayïn” which means literally “Let me circle around you.” It is said that this expression or word was used by healers during their healing ceremony of the sick person. The sick person was placed inside the yurt while the healer run circling around the yurt outside by saying this word and holding a scarf or piece of clothe on his shoulder.
2. Karïpbay uses another similar term endearment “kagïlayïn” meaning “let me jump up and down?” which was used in the same situation.
3. Tebetey is a traditional round shaped hat made from animal fur, generally worn by men.
4. Badal is a underbrush or thicket.
5. Karagan, buta and badal are different kinds of bushes.

© 2004 Elmira K÷šŘmkulk´z´