I got a copy of Chingiz Aitmatov’s Duishen novel as an e-book through the Facebook Group පොත් කියවන අය. I read the 35-page e-book within a day. It was easier to read as I had already read its Sinhala translation, ගුරු ගීතය. Aitmatov’s Duishen is basically a soviet propaganda novel but it allures any reader irrespective of race or creed as its theme, the emotional bond of a hardworking teacher and a talented student is universal.
Duishen, an ex-revolutionary, comes to his village after the revolution and the revolutionary Soviet government has entrusted him with the task of starting a new school without providing any facility except a meager salary for him. He explains the importance of educating the children in the village to their parents but fails to convince them. They are ignorant busy farmers and don’t understand the value of education as the only option they see to succeed in life is farming.
Having been snubbed by the villagers for his request to help him build a school, he embarks on a solitary task of converting an abandoned stable into a school. His only admirer is a teenage girl called Altynai who helps him dropping cow dung as fuel in his stable in secret one day. It is from this girl’s perspective that the book has been written. She becomes an immediate beneficiary of the school as she is very smart in learning. But her guardian aunt and uncle (Altynai is an orphan) loath the school and only let her go to school after Duishen uses force with the revolutionary government’s documents.
After becoming a great admirer of young teacher Duishen, Altynai almost falls in love with him but he treats her only as a loyal student. His only dream is to see Altynai succeed in education and become a big academic one day.
In the meantime Altynai’s guardians sell her to a middle-aged rascal of a man who has daughters older than Altynai. He already has a wife and Altynai is raped by him in his hut while she was only 15. She becomes a concubine of this cad. Before being raped, Duishen fights this man and his helpers to save Altynai but he fails as he is overpowered by the group.
I think I have told you more than enough. The rest rests in your hands now. Download or buy the book and read it for yourself.
There is also a movie based on this book called The First teacher but it is extremely rare to find. See a trailer from YouTube below.