Archive for July 9, 2008

“Kazakh Grandmother” Kanat’s narrative

She used to tell her stories in low voice and mentioning names like she was retelling incident took place yesterday. My grandmother. As every old man she liked to repeat her stories several times with new interesting details. Listening to her stories you will understand her jokes every time more and you understand why she laughs and why her face comes sad.


She was born in a family of rich and noble mullah (imam). With the new regime in the country, her father came under pressure was accused of being religious and outstanding rich. He was sent to camp in Siberian Russia, constructing bridges in distant areas and who was sent back to Kazakhstan before his actual death time. He survived after traditional medical treatment and lived till his old age. My grandmother started learning writing and reading after sixteen, during Soviet regime. She could write and read Kazakh in Arabic and Latin alphabet and finally she learned Russian alphabet-based Kazakh writing.


One story that interested me in 1930s is dispossessions of kulaks, my grand-grandfather was one of them. Cattle, possessions and valuable items were taken from my grand-grandfather. In one of the spot checks of those groups only women were in the house. My grandmother at those times had very expensive belt made of gold of about 5 kilos. Being afraid to lose that golden belt she threw it into fire in the furnace. At that time nobody could find or nobody tried to collect remains of golden belt.


Another moment in her life was time of starvation of 30s where population was fleeing to neighboring states and peoples’ bodies were lying in the streets like shot dogs. She remembers: “One day we went to central market for products and we witnessed that one boy grabbed one loaf of bread and was going to run, but tradesmen caught him and started to beat him and kick him. Next moment he was all in blood but chewing bloody bread.” Due to that starvation problem in the family, my grand-grandfather sold his daughter, my grandmother for a sack of grain in the age of 16. At that age she married my grandfather. She experienced problems with having children, but at the end at the age of 50 she had 5 live children.


Along with exciting times and fact my grandmother could tell about people who played important role in local and country’s life. One of them, Zhangeldin, was one of the Kazakh Bolsheviks and Pioneer Revolutionaries. He along with his army passed through aul (village) of my grandfather and needed provisions for his army. So, my grandfather provided them with the best horses and food. 


Like that golden belt, everything that was old by my grandmother looks like never-happened story. Revolutionaries, kulaks and starvation turned into modern history where my grandmother lived up to. I do not like to face the same difficulties as she met in her life, but to be able to respond to challenges of life like her.

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