MORNING SUN, THE DUNG BEETLE – Story

To this land there came such an evil age; the gentlemen laid their eyes on the women with rage. Sons, husbands and fathers, became enemies to their mothers; enemies to their wives, and daughters.

Five centuries after the Arabs who buried their newborn daughters and adored Al-Lat, a man called Yūsuf Balasaguni rioted against the God who created the evil sex.

“It would be better if these girls were not born and if they were born, better it is they would not live.” [1]

He said;

“Under the ground must be her place, her home should be a neighbor to the grave.” [2]

When there was left no place in the graves, houses became the places of achage. From now on, every house will be a grave. The curtains will be tightly closed. Women will be buried in the houses, and beaten if they dare to look outside. What would the coldness of ignorance do if the knowledge, the torch that guides humanity, turned its warm face away from women?

Name of her was forgotten and for centuries, cried the woman.

Look at these houses now, look at these boards and stones. Look at the carcasses of women who died of lack of love, and read the verse: “How many man with shiningly bright healty faces, the men with those red cheeks has turned to dust because of women!” [3]

Now put the men who suffered from women on one side of the scale, put the women who suffered from men on the other side of the scale and tell the truth: Which scalepan rises, and which one falls? God doesn’t do things without wisdom. So it should be asked the woman, “What was your sin, that you were buried alive?” [4] The answer will probably not gonna stick out of the tongue but drip out of the eye. If that answer falls on the rock, the rock will flow by being a lava.

Dilbara was neither the mistress of her mister in the steppes, nor the sultana of her house in the plains. She was the eldest and only daughter of a remote chalet. There were six other children in the house, and all of them were males, the valiants, the six iron swords. Dilbara was a slag in her father’s eyes. She wasn’t thrown out of the house because she was the one who boiling the boiler and cleaning up the house, but her presence was looked upon as a mistake.

After preparing the feather beds of her brothers, she used to sleep in the barn and fed on the leftovers from the dining tables she prepared by hand. In return, she had to work all the time, without having a rest. If her father sees her leaning on the wall, resting, “You dung beetle! Get to work, now!” he used to say, and if she did not act immediately, he would throw his shoe. The entire dialogue between Dilbara and her father consisted of this sentence.

Boys, on the other hand, usually ignored their sisters. Some days used to pass without saying anything. But sometimes, when Dilbara was taking care of the horses, they used to come to the barn and ask about the horses, they used to act quite gentle. Seeing a mark of kindness, the poor girl’s heart used to begin to beat, her mouth open for a while after her brothers left, and her pupils used to grew as if she had seen a shooting star on a pitch-black night.

She remembers her mother like a gully, the mother who died when giving birth of her youngest brother. Just as a gully carrying the rainwater and spilling, the mother had reflected the lack of love she have been through to her daughter. She taught her housework by screaming and beating her.

The mother’s life also was just like a dark night. Her skin, which faded day by day from not seeing the sun, never lacked bruising. She was strictly forbidden to leave the house. She couldn’t even go to the barn. If she approached the window and meanwhile the father was at home, she would be subjected to violence on the charge of “watching strange men”. However, since the house was in the middle of nowhere, just three or five riders a day would pass or not. Dilbara grew up in such a house, and, she imagined that the world is just a place like this.

Some day, Abhay, the youngest son of the house, had injured by falling of his horse. So he could not join his father and his brothers in the next morning, who were to go into the city for a job and stay there for three days. After seeing them off, Dilbara took a deep breath with a joy; the joy of having enough rest, for the first time in months, and sat on the chair in front of the wooden chalet. She closed her eyes and dreamed of another life. When she itched on her feet, she opened her eyes. She shivered. A black, big dung beetle was wandering between her toes. Although she was afraid at first, she couldn’t hurt it and took it in her hands.

She heard her brother’s breath as she stared absently at the bug. She looked back, startled. Abhay was leaning against the door, smiling and watching his sister. “Do you know?” he said, “It is not in vain that my father likens you to this bug.”

Dilbara turned sadly her head. However, Abhay had no insulting intent. He came in with a limp, bent over and picked up the bug.

“Now look at it.”

He raised the thick black shell on the bug’s back slightly. Semi-transparent, yellow, delicate wings emerged. “This bug always works,” said the boy. “He’s always on the ground, busy rolling feces, so he dies without noticing his wings.” 

The sister looked into her brother’s eyes. 

“You’re like a quiet house fairy. You serve us and retreat into your shell. Because they don’t allow otherwise. We live in the same house, but I don’t know you. What kind of dreams do you have? Which food do you like? What time of day do you like? Do you look forward to summer or winter? What are you most curious about in this life? I don’t know any of them.”

“I…” said Dilbara, and couldn’t keep talking. She was dazzled by the right to speak, the right that given to her for the first time. 

“You are a human being, but they do not know it. Therefore, they lose their own humanity.”

“Is there anything you want?” said the sister, the words just came out of her mouth. Not thinking about her own life had became a reflex of her, just like her eyes closing when looked at the sun, or her mouth watering when she see a sour fruit. She could not have any desire, imaginary or any goal; this was imposed her as a priority.

“Let’s get outta here.” said Abhay.

“Where?” the kid left the bug. The bug flapped its tiny wings, softly landed on the ground, slipped into the grass, and disappeared.

“To faraway. Egypt, maybe. Oh come on! Aren’t you tired of living like this?”

“Shut up, kid, you’re crazy.” Dilbara frowned. She got out of the chair and head towards home.

“Your foot is crippled. Get some rest. If the father returns and realizes that you did not go to bed, I will be the one who bear the brunt of.”

“Sister,” said Abhay, holding her arm. “Don’t you hear me?” Dilbara remained silent. The boy continued to speak. “Dung beetles are born inside a fecal ball. When that ball melts in the water, they can go to the nature. Don’t you think it’s time for our nest to melt, too? We’ll ride my horse. You and I will go far away. Forget about our father now. Stop keeping his voice in your head. Fill the saddlebag with whatever you have and let’s get out of here.”

“Abhay, are you serious?” said the young girl, muttering.

“Do I look like a joker?” Soon the horseshoes rattled the stony road. At the front of the sorrel there was Abhay and at the back Dilbara, they were heading in the opposite direction of the bazaar, towards the top of the mountain. They had with them three or five pieces of clothing, and milk and bread just enough for two meals.

They traveled through the lands like the wind. And when they had run out of gold, they hoarded golds by carrying the burdens of the people they met. In four months, they crossed Asia and arrived in Egypt. When the fairly old sorrel got sick and died here, they knew their journey was over. They agreed with a wealthy landowner and became field workers.

In the early days, Abhay asked Dilbara, “Do you think we are Josef and Benjamin?” 

“No,” said the young girl firmly. “We have no Jacob.”

When the father and his sons returned to their home on the mountainside, they encountered a chilling silence. At first they didn’t care, Abhay must have gone out to train on his horse.

But the father grumbled, “Why did he take Dilbara with him? Women shouldn’t go out of the house.” But as the hours passed, they started to flurry. The silent fairy, whom they thought to be in charge of obedience and service, flew away.

The eldest son, Kiran, went down to the city and asked the people for help by describing his siblings and the red-haired horse. No one seen them, except a woodsman who was saying that he had seen a horse that fit the description. Kiran led his horse straight to the mountain. He was asking everyone he saw about his siblings. If he asked a hundred people, just one person would answer. After Kiran learned that his siblings crossed the mountains, he said goodbye to his father and brothers and set off.

Just as a poet told; “Forgetfulness is in the human nature.” The majority of the people couldn’t answered Kiran’s questions, most of the respondents remembered incorrectly, and someones gave incorrect information in order not to say “I do not know”. And the way of the wayfarer turned away to quite opposit of the truth, to the east. He arrived to China. One night in the woods, he met bandits. His horse was killed, his money was stolen. When he had no chance to return, he became a foreigner, a slave to the Chinese, sold in the markets, and completely detached from his past.

Just like his elder brother, one of Kiran’s younger brothers lost his life when he went outside of the borders of the country. The other kids went out looking for the missing and went on a whole other adventure. 

So the family in the chalet was scattered like rosary beads. The father was left all alone with the ghost of his wife, the wife he tortured once upon a time. It was such a dark fortune that happiness suddenly disappeared from his life. It wasn’t surprising that the things have happened that way. Man and woman were two halves of humanity, and the fact that if one half is gonna be hostile to the other, the integrity shatters. Because God created man and woman from a single essence.

And as for Dilbara and Abhay… They have worked faithfully for many years. The owner of the field married his daughter to Abhay and his son to Dilbara. He left some gold with the field as his legacy. Among these golds, there were jewels left by the ancestors of the field owner. 

Some of these jewelry had thousands of years of history. A bracelet among the jewelry that believed as handed down from the time of Ra, Set, Osiris and other Egyptian gods left Dilbara in awe.

There was a scarab in the middle, a dung beetle. Blue and green wings on the edges and a red circle… The sun… Dung beetle was the head of Kheper, the morning view of the sun god Ra. It was also a symbol of immortality, the life after death. Amulets and jewelry which carried the shape of this insect, were believed to bring good luck. 

Dilbara was the morning sun, the dung beetle: She was bright and she was her family’s good luck. 

That was the end of the dark fortune. When woman loved herself.

When sons, husbands and fathers love their mothers, wives and daughters. Dung beetles would gonna cleanse the garden and the morning sun would gonna shine on the earth…

❇ ❇ ❇

This story won first place in the Baykuş Discord Group January contest.

Thanks to Enes Talha Coşgun for the translation.


[1] Kutadgu Bilig, #4511

[2] Kutadgu Bilig, #4512

[3] Kutadgu Bilig, #4524

[4] Surah At-Takwir 8-9, “and when baby girls, buried alive, are asked for what crime they were put to death,”, https://quran.com/at-takwir

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