Diary from Uzbekistan (8): Getting up at 4 a.m. to meet with Remco

Published on 2 October by Stichting Russisch Ereveld

 Buchara, 2 October

On this sunlit Tuesday morning Adiz Kacharov, carrying a garish yellow bag, approaches through downtown Buchara. “With such a carrier Remco cannot miss me”, thinks the Uzbek from Nurata, who has just turned 76. Mind you, Nurata is 400 kilometres further on. This morning the spry old fellow left his place of birth at 04.00 hours. All suited up, duppi on his head.

His strategy works. We pick him out straightaway.

Adiz is the younger brother of Saïd Kacharov, who left for the front two days after Adiz was born. Adiz never saw his big brother, who did not speak Russian and had no military training, again. Saïd died in May 1945 in Bad Lippspringe, Germany, and now lies buried in the Soviet Russian War Cemetery in Leusden.

Remco Reiding managed to trace Adiz in 2007 at which time he provided him with the relevant details during a phone conversation. A tricky undertaking because the connection was bad and for both of them Russian is not their native tongue. Afterward Remco sent him photos of his brother’s grave. But the two never actually met. Until today.

The eyes of Adiz, bleu coloured as a result of cataract, are shining. He is happy to finally meet Remco. Proudly he shows the photos that the Dutchman sent him back in the day.

He also joins the meeting that has been arranged for Remco and in which a youth organisation, archivists and an army official indicate what they can and cannot do for Remco. “Difficult, difficult”, best describes their awkward attitude.

That is completely unacceptable to the old Uzbek. With an impassioned plea he urges the officials in Buchara to appreciate what is being done in Leusden and how beautifully the Soviet Russian War Cemetery there is being maintained. Uzbekistan should let this sink in. The moral authority of the old man is palpable. The previously rigid officials are now in tears.

As we walk back to our minibus, Adiz really lets fly. He is mad about his country’s indifference toward their war dead. “We must not forget them. I never want to forget my brother. I owe it to him.”

Remco asks Adiz whether he would like to visit his brother’s grave. His old eyes are blazing. “In my whole life I never accepted hand-outs and I would like to keep it that way.” But when Remco stresses that he would really be welcome, he relents. “I will ask Allah to make the trip possible.”

And home goes Adiz. Another four hours’ journey. A solemn man with an insight into human nature. We really hope to be able to welcome him in Amersfoort sometime in the future.