Posts tagged Kazan

Unwritten Places (Part III)

As I was going through the index of the book “Till My Tale is Told,” by Simeon Vilensky, I was writing down every prison or camp to make sense of it and tease out what I could that might be in Kazakhstan.  Here’s a fitting poem I came across that goes along with the poem “We’re Alive, We’re Alive!”

 “I write in the name of the living,

That they, in turn, may not stand

In a silent, submissive crowd

By the dark gates of some camp.”

Taganka – Moscow prison

Lubyanka – headquarters for Soviet Secret police  in central Moscow

Lefortovo – Moscow prison

Butyrki – largest Moscow prison

Solovki – special camp north of Moscow

Kazan – southeast on the Volga

Kolyma – Magadan, Sea of Okhotsk, Vladimir prison

Suzdal – like Solovki, a former monastery, northeast of Moscow

Verkhneuralsk prison

Elgen – women’s camp, 500 miles northwest and inland from Magadan

Serpantinka

Narym – central Siberia

Yaroslavl prison

Shapalerka prison

Mariinsk camp farther west from Kolyma

You get the idea that there were LOTS of campus throughout the former Soviet Union. An oft spoken saying among those women in gulag camps after living through tedious drudgery day after day:  “It may be worse, but at least it’ll be different”

p. 112 – “What you suffer is not as important as what you learn from the experience.”

p. 271 – “…Eleanor Roosevelt knew about huge numbers of political prisoners in Soviet Union, had come to the country and asked to visit the camps and see for herself.  This request had been categorically refused.”

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Ainiziya’s Great Grandfather Survived in Siberia for being an intellectual

I am going to write about my grandfather from my father’s side. The reason why I have chosen him is that his life seemed to me to be rich, full of interesting facts but sometimes problems.  My grandfather’s name was Abibolla Karkinbayev and he was born in May 12, 1930. His father, Karkynbay, was a doctor, astrologer and theologist. He was educated and could write and speak in old Latin, German, Arab languages. Also he could freely speak in Russian; it was quite unusual for those times.

My great-grandfather has studied in Kazan, the capital city of Tatarstan. In 1925-1926 he built a mosque and medrese. During those times children could not study anywhere, so he taught them at medrese. It was prohibited to teach people in those times, nevertheless he continued to teach. Soon he was arrested for his activities and for being educated. In 1938 were many fights with mullahs and my great-grandfather was sent to Malaya Zemlya, Sibir (North). Last few years he was a scribe, because only a few could read and write. However, this did not stop him to become sick. He was in Sibir (Siberia) from 1938 up to 1946. In 1946 he came back to Kazakhstan an ill person and after a few years he was gone…

Coming back to my grandfather, he studied at Narkhoz (KazEU now) university. After finishing his studies, he came back to his village. There he met my grandmother and they got married. In few years my grandfather got the highest positions in Public sector, specifically speaking in Sovkhoz sector. It comes to my mind, when my grandfather was alive; our house was full of people and our dastarkhan (table) was full of food and milk products. Those were the times of deficit, deficit of everything. We rarely faced those deficit problems with the help of my grandfather. Probably because my grandfather worked and got highest positions while my grandmother never worked. She even does not have a higher education. Nevertheless, I can surely say that she is very wise person.

I do not remember all the moments which were spent with my grandfather, because I was too young to remember, but I do remember some moments. And they never leave my memory of him. Even if I was too young, I could feel how he loved me, how he loved his family and his country. From my point of view he did his best to his village and his country as well. And as for me and my family he would always be the ideal and the best grandfather ever.

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Aisulu’s Humorous Grandma Believed in “Simplicity”

My Grandma was born in 1920 in Aulie ata – former Taraz in Zhambyl oblast. Her father was born in Kazan and was a tailor. He was a very interesting person – curious and smart. Being a little boy he dreamed of a career as a soldier and wanted to enter Kazan’s cadet corpus, but his mother wouldn’t let him go there because she believed that that there he would be made to change his religion. So he failed in his dreams and became a pupil of a tailor. In early 1900’s he took his family and moved to Kazakhstan in search of better life. At last he settled in Aulie ata, where my Grandma was born.

Grandma was brought up in a very big and united family there were 5 brothers and 3 sisters and she was the eldest of sisters. That is why she had spent all of her childhood looking after younger brothers and sisters. She attended only two classes of primary school and then her parents decided that it was enough for her. At that time in Kazakhstan there was used an Arabic alphabet and till her death she had been writing everything in Arabic and it was rather funny to open her phone book and see all the names written Arabic alphabet. And another curious thing about her was that if you ever met her you would never say that she is unable to read and write in Russian! So clever, wise and well-mannered she was. You’ll laugh but she was really surprised when I had told her that the Earth was like ball. All her life she thought that the Earth was as flat as a table! But I think that was not her fault it was the fault of her time.

She was born and raised in a very hard and tough time. Collapse of tsarism, civil war, years of victimization, famine, collectivization and so on and so on… Her eldest brother was arrested in 1930’s and then killed in a prison. He was only 28 years old, a talented poet but he left three little kids and a pregnant wife. Those were cruel times… She only told me once about the famine of 1930’s. It was caused by collectivization and thousands of people died during the famine. People were dying on the streets, even the richest ones were starving to death.

She married my Grandpa at the age of 20. He had just graduated from a Saint-Petersburg state university. A young well-educated Kazakh man, he was 27 and needed a wife. A “public enemy’s son” he changed his surname and left his home city – Aktobe. He moved to Aulie ata where he got acquainted with Grandma’s father and became his good friend. So that when my Grandpa told him that he is looking for a wife Grandma’s dad offered him to pay his attention to his daughters. So that is how the love story was! Grandma didn’t know my Grandpa well but married him because her father wanted so. Her father was sure that this young man would never hurt her and would take care of her. And he had been right they lived a long life together, gave birth to four children.

The most important thing my Grandma taught me was – the simplicity. Be simple everywhere with anyone, the more you respect everyone the more everybody respects you. If you are simple it will be easier for you to rise and then fall. All of our life we are kind of climbing up and down the mountains and it is easier to make your journey with the help of people who are ready to help because they respect you. Talk to people in a simple manner, and never think that you are better then the others. People are just not the same, no one is better no one is worse.

Money was nothing for her. She had never measured people with money. And she had never respected someone just because of his treasures and money. She believed that the true treasure in this life is a good friend.

She loved her family very much and when I told her that I’m going to go to study abroad, the first thing she said was: “But you won’t be able to come when I die…”. Good sense of humor, isn’t it?

I decided to name my first daughter – Asiya… After my Grandma!

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