Ashgabat is growing rapidly, expanding its borders day after day. New houses are being built on the site of the former wastelands. Where the desert used to rule, entire residential areas appear. The day will come, and voices will be heard in them, and the light will turn on in the windows.

Every home has a soul. But it does not arise by itself. It appears only when people inhabit the house, and give it part of its heat. A man warms his home, and the house answers the man by protecting him from the heat and cold, serves as a center and shelter, and, in the end, becomes a family home.

The child sees the first three things when he comes to this world and opens his eyes – to his mother, the room in which he was born, and the window through which light shines. Three things are felt first by the new citizen of the Universe – the warmth of mother’s hands, the life-giving force of her milk, and the fact that behind this window a journey begins in a still unknown world called Life.

It is hard to imagine a windowless house. Whether we like it or not, but erecting any building, a person creates it in its own image, where the windows are the eyes of the house. There is a legend that, in ancient times, there was a custom: the owner, before erecting a dwelling, put his beloved early in the morning in front of the sun and where the shadow fell, the first stone lay at the base. And such a house was built with love, becoming not just a box of brick, clay or logs, but an abode of kindness. And the more windows there were in the house, the brighter, and, therefore, happier was living in it.

Different windows accompany us in our life’s journey – windows of houses, trains, airplanes, buses, cars. And each period has its own, unique window. There are windows of childhood, youth, maturity. From this window you, having buried your nose in the glass, watched with delight as the first snow falls, as a big black cat, jumping out into the yard, floundering in the snowdrift with pleasure. Later, when you matured, you peered into the alley with bated breath, impatiently waiting for the moment when a neighbor girl returned from school, which has recently become more important to you than just a neighbor. But behind these windows you were once happy. Although it didn’t last long, it was enough to live a life with gratitude and tenderness to remember that you were once expected here. Other people now live in this house, but it still seems to you that a part of you has not completely left these walls, sheltered somewhere in the back streets of the rooms.

Here a familiar old woman sits by the window, looking at cars passing along the street, passers-by hurrying about their business, children chasing roller skates and scooters on the sidewalk. She has not left home for a long time and the window for her is the only connection with the outside world. Once upon a time, an old woman watched her son set off on a long journey. You kindly wave your hand and she, smiling, waves her hand in return.

Once, having caught the last bus, my friend and I were returning from guests. It was winter, late evening, the bus was almost empty and cold. Each of us was thinking about something different. The trip was far away, and a friend began to draw something with his finger on the glass that was fogging from his breath. He wrote two words: “I love.” “Who?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he answered. “I just love. This life, people, this city.” Many years passed, and I still remember that frozen winter bus, a window and the words deduced by a friend on the glass. And again, as then, it embraces that indescribable feeling that warmed us in youth and, I hope, will not leave us until the last hour – a feeling of great involvement in this life, a crazy desire to love and be loved.

Of course, by and large, windows are just simple, lifeless pieces of mica, which, it would seem, do not care what happens next to them. Probably the way it is, and you should not come up with any special properties of glass. And yet, it seems to me that like the sand from which they are created, the windows absorb our warmth, store our joys and sorrows, the laughter of our children, they, like in photographs, forever capture our reflection, the faces of our relatives and beloved ones. They are an integral part of our home, and, therefore, ourselves.

Walking through the evening city it is nice to see windows in which the light is on. I do not want to think about sad things. It is believed that it is not the doctor sitting at the patient’s bedside, but in the silence of the night, under the light of a table lamp, the mystery of the birth of poetry, music, and paintings takes place. Or maybe someone is writing a letter to a friend or a person dear to him, choosing words to express surging feelings. There, behind the illuminated windows, lies the work of thought and soul, and any movement of the human soul is beautiful.

Not so long ago, birds began to fly to my windowsill. I don’t know why they liked it so much. Probably just an accidental stop on difficult, mysterious bird routes. However, to guess, the law of hospitality is immutable – guests need to be fed. Now the morning begins with a cheerful homon. Stretching their necks, birds look into the window, asking for attention. Moreover, the order of the visit is strictly regulated according to the bird hierarchy. The first to arrive are the yellow-billed, nimble and extremely inquisitive Afghan starlings, who are also called the “lane”; they are replaced by wild pigeons in mother-of-pearl cloaks; then follow the necks, treading their paws on the windowsill with the grace of the ballet school students, and accepting refreshments with modest dignity. And only nimble sparrows do not recognize any protocol, bravely snooping between the paws and tails of their relatives, not paying the slightest attention to the difference in weight categories. Sometimes a lone blackbird flies in a dandyish black tuxedo into a white speck. I am glad of all of them and, I drive away the thought that someday the day may come and my windowsill will be empty.

Each of us in this life has its own treasured windows. There should always be a window in a person’s fate where the light is on, where people live, who think about you, remember, love and wait.

Peace and quiet to your home, people!

Vladimir Zarembo