Archive for January 19, 2009

People’s Past Stories ARE Important!!!

p11700181 Camilya and Nailya invited us to their home on Saturday to honor their father’s recent death.  Supposedly 40 days had passed since he died in December 2008.  Typically this is a Russian Orthodox holiday that is celebrated to remember the dearly departed.  I believe it is done 9 days after, 40 days and then a year after the death. Thankfully there is to be NO alcohol at these solemn occasions as in other parties I have attended in the past. 

Nailya, as the older sister, felt it important to tell two stories about their beloved father.  She stood up once we had partaken of all the salads, bread and beshbarmek (five fingers) main meal with broth and told one story that I can remember better than the other. 

The first was about her father being a good herdsman and trusted for his ability to shepherd cattle and sheep through the desert.  On one particular occasion he was caught in a very vicious sandstorm and the best way to protect his horses and camels was to put tents or protection over the horses in the middle and the camels were like pillars on the outside.  Once the storm was over with, the animals were quite thirsty.  At his young age, he knew how to navigate them to a pond so they could all be refreshed otherwise they would have perished in the desert.  Apparently their father later became a skillful vet, he knew how to take care of people’s dogs and cats as well.

The other story was a little more vague but was around the period of WWII starvation and repression when Kazakhs were expected to give up their herds of cattle or sheep for the collective farms throughout Kazakhstan.  Apparently her father knew how to butcher the meat and it was done secretly so the authorities would not discover that they were missing.  Supposedly the meat was sent up to the Front to help the soldiers who were fighting in the war.

The two daughters were very proud of their father and his higher education in Russia.  Apparently he had befriended a famous Russian painter and there were two of his paintings on their living room wall.  Both were Russian scenery that could have been Kazakshtan and now I wish I had taken photos of them.  They had confetti (candy) on the table and, in fact, one of the candy wrappers was of bears in the woods by this very same Russian painter.  (I delayed writing up about this Saturday afternoon event because I was looking for the cord to our scanner so I could show what THAT picture of romping bears in the woods looked like.  Can’t find it.)  So, once I find the scanner cord, I will scan other candy wrappers as well.

Back to the sister’s stories about their father.  These stories ARE important to recite from the past to honor the dearly departed.  Of course, they will miss him but feel that he is in heaven now and was smiling down on our party while we were remembering him.  For the four of us foreigners among the other eight Kazakhs it was a treat to be hosted to such a lavish spread.  Thank you Camilya and Nailya!


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