National Geographic : 1954 Nov
639 Kazakh Women Sun and Air Their Bedding by Taking the Roof Off the House Latticework walls fold like an accordion. Leather thongs strap together four sections to make the frame 20 feet in diameter, girdled by woven bands. Roof "rafters" peg into a ceiling hoop, through which smoke escapes. One day in the summer encampment above Srinagar, while we sat cross-legged in con versation, some of the young women were kneeling at the fringe of the group raptly en grossed in the men's talk. Suddenly Milya, Qali Beg's newest wife, turned to him saying, "Erim (my husband), do you remember the day the enemy came to the encampment when the men were away?" A Woman's Deed of Valor Qali Beg's eyes lighted up and, at his urg ing, Milya told the tale, flushed with pleasure as all eyes sought her out. "My husband and his men were off fight ing the enemy," she began, as her companions replenished the empty tea bowls. "Suddenly we saw troops galloping toward our camp. The women snatched up their young children and ran for their horses. "I was last in the stirrups, and my horse balked, badly frightened. A Communist bul let grazed the animal's leg, and he bolted forward. "I saw a child crying in front of a tent," Milya went on, helping break the round loaves of unleavened bread and spreading the chunks before us. "Slowing my horse, I leaned from the saddle and picked up the child, with the enemy close behind. Four bullets pierced my clothes, and I was much afraid. Luckily my horse was swift, and I lost my pursuers in the mountains. "Soon I met Suleiman, a young man from our tribe who was herding sheep. I told him what had happened, and together we raced back to the camp by a short cut. We knew the enemy would return to loot the tents. We found two machine guns and lay in wait. "As we expected, they rode up unsuspect ing. We could see their startled looks when Suleiman commenced firing. I loaded one machine gun while Suleiman fired the other. "We held off the foe for five hours, until my husband and his men returned and drove away the enemy. My husband told me I was very brave and that I had saved the camp. Oil I shall never forget that day!"