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Short Story: "Assault on a Puppy" by Zunun Qadiri

Updated: Jan 9

This is a translation of "Kuchukke Hujum", a short story by Zunun Qadiri written in 1946. It was translated by Michael Fiddler as part of the Advanced Uyghur class taught at CESSI, who we have now partnered with for two summers. We thank both for having us share this with everyone!

TW: animal abuse

kuchukke hujum
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Assault on a Puppy

Zunun Qadiri, 1946

One late autumn day in 1946, the Urumchi sky furrowed its brows and put on a cold face. On one occasion when walking about the streets was an equally unhappy experience, a military man and his wife walked out of a restaurant on Nanguan Street. The man was taller; his wife was shorter. That is all we know about them. We do not know the military man’s name, but a leather strap criss-crossed over his shoulder, he wore a new, yellowish military uniform, and on the front right of his belt a pistol was suspended in a gleaming holster. On his collar was the emblem of some sort of military title. Everyone who saw a person looking like this would say, “Ah, this must be some high-ranking officer.” Should we inquire as to whether he is a platoon commander, a company commander, or perhaps a lower-ranking captain or unit commander? If we ask him his name and what his job is, will he tell us? No, we have to be cautious about this sort of thing. Otherwise, what will happen if you ask? His face will turn cold, his brows will rain ice, and angry, venomous words will fly from his mouth, and your face will be smarting by the time he’s done spitting at you. He’ll be so hopping mad he won’t be able to stand it. Because so many companions of those men have engaged in this kind of nauseating interaction before, it is quite clear to us that we must exercise caution here.

We might say this kind of person has an irascible or violently irritable temperament. There were many such military men around. They would say they were here “supporting the people’s freedom.” However, if you asked them anything about the people’s actual freedom, their anger would boil up like that and they’d reach for their machine gun, as if this gentle, unarmed, sheep-like people had come to do battle with them. Actually, there were battles being fought against the Guomindang military in other cities. That must have been why this man’s sanity snapped.

Right, we were going to talk about this officer whose name we didn’t know. We must have gotten a bit sidetracked there. The story we were going to tell you goes as follows.

The office had eaten a nice meal with his wife at the restaurant. Thus he was leaving in a happy and unhurried manner. A skinny stray puppy, which had sniffed at the door of the restaurant but found nothing there, suddenly turned and followed the officer. Perhaps the pleasant scent of the officer’s oily food had reached the puppy’s nose, or perhaps it had picked up the smell of his well-oiled boots; at any rate it must have found some smell to follow.

The puppy sniffed at the officer’s boots. At first, not even breaking his ostentatious stride, the officer just shoved the puppy aside with the heel of his boot. Finding nothing good from the officer, the puppy started barking, as if to put a curse on him. The officer turned around and glared at it. The puppy glared right back at the officer with its tiny round eyes. The officer took one step toward it in a show of intimidation. The puppy, for its part, withdrew two paces, lifted its head up, and kept looking at the officer. Feeling that the puppy was sufficiently afraid of him, the officer relaxed, turned around, and kept walking. Apparently not afraid, however, the puppy kept coming, peering along behind him. Turning around two or three times, the officer cursed at it loudly. The puppy also barked at him incessantly. The officer’s anger rose suddenly. Screwing up his face, raising one eyebrow and the left side of his lip, he bared his clenched teeth…and the puppy made the same face back at him.

Thus the battle began. The puppy would withdraw for a moment, then the officer would withdraw. When the officer seemed scared, the puppy would bark. When the puppy seemed scared, the officer would curse at it. Fortunately, after much argument, the officer won the victory. The puppy collapsed from exhaustion in the middle of the street. As for the victor, he assaulted the puppy with all his strength, kicking and stomping on it. Though blood was pouring from the mouth of the defeated, it still persisted in yelping. Pulling on his arm, the officer’s wife said, “It’s done, it’s done! Let it go!” and barely managed to drag him back to the side of the road.

But the officer’s rage rose even more. Pushing aside his wife, who was keeping him from wiping his enemy off the face of the earth, he cursed her too along with the tiny puppy that was struggling for its life.

“Ptooh! Damn stray! Ptooh! He still thinks he can scare me!” he said, spitting in the puppy’s direction. Seeing him jumping a foot, two feet in the air in his unbearable rage, people started laughing at him. Ashamed, the officer blushed, paled, then got even angrier. His anger came to a climax. With a swish, he drew his pistol and pointed it at the crowd. “You’re all a bunch of fucking dogs! Beat it, or I’ll shoot you all like this!” he said, firing three rounds into the dead puppy’s body, and then stomped on its head.

Out of earshot of the officer, one of the spectators mocked him. “What a fantastic hero, this guy. Has this world ever seen such a courageous hero before?”

A second young guy laughed sarcastically: “Yeah, there was one. The hero of Don Quixote was even braver than this Guomindang officer, he even attacked sheep.”

The spectators smiled slowly and cautiously dispersed. As for the officer, with his enemy annihilated in battle, his fiery rage settled down, and the arrogant victor went striding heavily on his way again like a real-life Don Quixote. His wife, for her part, was embarrassed by the people’s laughter, and, hurrying to catch up with her husband, she walked off behind him. With that, the street was quiet.

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