Primož Jakopin
Hudojberdi Mustafokulovič Zokirov
The eyewitness from Botosh
Short portrait


Hudojberdi in the living room, 2023

          This is a translation of a conversation, held on 13 August, 2023 in the home of Hudojberdi Mustafokulovič Zokirov, whom the author visited accompanied by Holidin Kudratullaevič Pojonov. Hudojberdi only partly understands Russian and Holidin clarified the author's questions from Russian to Tajiki, and translated Hudojberdi's answers to Russian (translation of answers was usually much shorter than the answers, author's note). Hudojberdi is the elder son of the three surviving children of Mustafo Zokirovič Holmominov, the first known explorer of the cave Boybuloq. He also accompanied his father during his last, fatal visit to the cave. Hudojberdi lives in Botosh, Oltinsoy District of Uzbekistan.
          Tajik (Худойберди) or Uzbek (Xudoyberdi) name is composed of Hudoj - "God" and Berdi - "gave". It has an equivalent of Theodore in English, from Theódōros ("gift of God") in Greek. Often, parents give this name to a male child, for whom they waited a long time, worked hard for him.
          For greater accuracy Cyrillic names were transliterated to the Latin alphabet using the Scientific transliteration of Cyrillic.

Who is Hudojberdi Mustafokulovič?
          I was born on November 28, 1955 in Dehibolo to father Mustafo Zokirovič Holmominov, born 1920 and to mother Saida, born 1930. I live in Botosh.
How many brothers and sisters did you have?
          It was a large family, my parents had ten chidren, five sons and five daughters. The first child was a son, Said Alí, born January 7, 1951. He died when he was one year old. Daughter Oíša was born May 11, 1952. She died in 1969, immediately after her wedding. Daughter Fotimój was born April 9, 1953, she is still alive. I was next, born November 28, 1955. Son Hudojnazár was born May 4, 1961, he is also still alive. Daughter Zulájho was born March 21, 1962. She died 19 years old. Daughter Hanifój was born February 9, 1964. She died 11 years old. Son Hudojór was born December 18, 1966. He died at 21. He was followed by son Hajrúllo, born July 15, 1968, who died at 8 and daughter Azízmo, born May 8, 1970. She died at 19.
And how big is your family?
          With my wife Ruzigol Baltaeva we have three children, son Nurmuhammad, born 1977, son Begnazar, born 1990, and daughter Munisa, born 1995. We have 10 grandchildren, 6 from Nurmuhammad, 2 from Begnazar and also 2 from Munisa. The first wife of Nurmuhammad with 4 children lives elsewhere.

Hudojberdi and the family on the doorstep of their home, with his wife Ruzigul, daughter-in-law (the wife of his eldest son Nurmuhammad) Mardžona and Hudojberdi's grandchildren, Mardžona's daughter Asmo and son Anas.

What was your father like?
          He was a folk healer, he knew how to prepare medicinal tea, ointments and the like. He was also well known for his skill as a house builder.
          He was of medium height, of solid build.

Mustafo Zokirovič Holmominov, drawing by Vladimir Posipaj

And your mother?
          She was 19 cm shorter than him, and 10 years younger. They were neighbours in Dehibolo, they knew each other well.
How did your father find out about the cave, about Boybuloq?
          The cave was widely known, everybody knew about it and so he did, as well.
What can you tell us about his last, fatal visit of the cave?
          We went to the cave on May 28, 1970. He did not explain me much about why we are going to the cave, just that the main purpose is to pray for the rain and for the good life. We took three donkeys, one for each of us two, and one for the kerosene lamp and for the tools, a 2 kg sledge hammer and a chisel.
          We departed from Dehibolo very early. When we arrived to the cave, the father was breaking rocks at the entrance, widening it, until lunch. After the lunch he went into the cave. I waited for him till the evening, the whole night, the following day and another night. The third day villagers from Dehibolo came and dragged me off, back to the village.
What was the life like after your father died?
          It was not easy. A lot fell on me, I was the eldest son, and to my mother. We barely managed, quite a few of my siblings died.
How did you get to know your wife?
          She was the daughter of our neighbour in Dehibolo. We married in 1975.
How come that you left Dehibolo and came to Oltinsoy?
          To the plain, where we now live, we came on March 7, 1984. We want to the lowlands because life was very tough in the mountains, in Dehibolo. In the plain life is much easier, the soil is soft, there is a river (the same river which flows below Dehibolo - it reaches Oltinsoy only at middle and high water level, author's note) and moisture with it. Everything grows here.

Cotton fields to the south of the village

          We both worked in a sovhoz, a large state farm. The land we now have and which we live off, we got from the sovhoz (after the end of the Soviet era sovhoz land largely changed hands, author's note) with the help of the director, Normurod Melikolov.
Is there something which was of great interest to you, besides farming?
          There certainly is. I would always very much like to travel the world, to see how things are going in Asia, China, Japan, India, Europe, America. Yet I only managed to see Samarkand and Tashkent, even Buhara, which I would like so much to visit, I never got to see.
What is your favorite color and why?
          White color! Why? When people die in our land, they are always buried wrapped in white linen.

If you would live your life once again, would you change something?
          Nothing. It happens as it happens, life has its own paths and plans and it's best to let it take its course.


Hudojberdi and his son-in-law, Sandžar, Munisa's husband, in the living room

The village street which is passing Hudojberdi's home and yard (to the left) on the western side.

The house where the family lives. The sons Nurmuhammad and Begnazar work in Tashkent.


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This page, text and photos by Primož Jakopin. Send inquiries and comments to primoz jakopin guest arnes si (insert dots and at sign as appropriate). The page was initiated on November 21, 2023. Last correction: November 29, 2023.