Posts tagged Kursk

Aizhan’s Grandmother Taught in “Country No. 5”

It was in 1951. One young beautiful woman arrived to Uzbekistan from Russia. Exactly, from the Molotychi country. It is related to Kursk region. After graduating from training college she was sent to another country that doesn’t have a name in order to teach children. It was called “The Country № 5”.This brave woman’s name was Valentine. She worked and lived in school. And she met a pioneer guide there. He was the only person who spoke in Russian. It was my grandfather from my mother’s side. His name is Sahtash Hozhabergenov. And he is still alive.

Like my grandmother, he is a teacher. He worked as a teacher for 41 years. Also, he was a director of the “Pioneer’s Home”. Actually, he dreamed about theater because he wanted to be an actor. Anyway, my grandfather has a many hobbies. He plays all the types of stringed instruments. He liked to waltz with my grandmother and he called her “Frenchwoman” because she had curly, white blonde, had a light blue eyes. Amazing woman. Also, he paints very well. Especially, portraits and, very interesting, arms and flags of 15 Union republics on the red silk. I’m so proud of him when I’m writing all of it now. I didn’t live with him. Usually, he came to visit us to Almaty. But it wasn’t for long, maximum was three-four days. Unfortunately, I really don’t know him so much.

But I haven’t finished his story. My grandfather also was a hunter. One day, it was February when he came to home all icy. How did it happen? While hunting for fish, he fell down into the awfully cold water. So, all family beat off the ice on him. But the main thing is that this action was in a cold corridor. If you know, it wasn’t allowed be in a warm home, when you are so cold. He is a human who loves life, writes poetry and sings. He was grateful for the destiny of having children. They are four: Nurtas, Nurhat, my mother Galina and Sergei.

My grandmother Valya, (that’s how we called her) died in 1993. She had a cancer of lungs. After her death grandfather didn’t get married again. He still loves her. He says in Kazakh: “Кемпір үйді балалармен толтырып кетті”. In English it means: “Old woman fills the house with children and gone”. He cared for her seven years, so strong she was. For all of us she is a heroine. Seven years she struggled against the cancer. For life. Anyway, she is a winner. I love her so much. You know, I don’t speak Kazakh very good. All my relatives are Kazakh. I love them too. But I so deeply feel the Russian inside of me. I am proud of what I know, really know Russian language. One of the richest languages around the world. And I definitely know that we (I with my grandmother Valya) could be very close.

Now grandfather is blind. But, as I mention he loves life. And how he says for himself: “I wasn’t a communist, I don’t read a namaz, but I am Muslim”. He reads the Koran and believes in God. The Nurhat’s family lives with and care for him.


P.S. All grandfathers and grandmother’s personal information was given to me by my mother.

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Yerzhan’s Grandparents and Battle Statistics

The generation of our grandparents lived during heavy times. Their families were pursued by repressions which there were a lot in our country at that time. When they were young, the Second World War began. Many of those who went to the war didn’t return home again. According to official statistics only 3% of those who went to the battle front at the beginning of war returned home.

My grandfather, my father’s father, also was participant of the war. I never saw him because he had died before my birth, but I heard a lot about him from my father. He was born in 1910 near Kostanai city. His first education was the local mosque, where he learned the letters. He graduated from financial secondary school before the war and Moscow Financial Institute by correspondence after the war. He had been called on war in 1942. For the first 6 months he was trained in artillery school, after which he was sent to the Stalingrad’s battle field in the heaviest times. Also, he participated in encirclement of Paulys army. In Ukraine, during the attack of the Soviet Army, my grandfather was wounded and after hospital he returned home. As I mentioned before, after the war he graduated from Moscow Financial Institute and worked in the regional financial department. He met my grandmother, they married and they had 8 children including my father. My grandfather died in 1975.

My grandmother, my father’s mother, was born in 1924 also near Kustanai city. My grandmother’s family was from notable kin, that’s why they were pursued by repressions. Therefore, they were compelled to wander all over Kazakhstan. As a result, during the beginning of war her family moved to South Kazakhstan. By the way, my grandfather’s family also moved to South Kazakhstan for the same reason. When the war began, my grandmother’s father had been called on war, where he died in 1941 defending Moscow. My grandmother graduated from Kazakh Pedagogical Institute and worked as a teacher of Russian language and Russian literature in Kazakh school. She died in 1993 and was buried near a tomb of my grandfather.

My mother’s father was born in 1929 in Semipalatinsk region. He didn’t participate in the war because he was a child at that time, but he lost many of his relatives at this war. He graduated from state farm secondary school in 1948 and worked as an agriculturist in different state farms and collective farms.

My mother’s mother was born in 1930 also in Semipalatinsk region. Her father has been called on war, where he died near Kursk. She graduated from Female Pedagogical Institute in Almaty in1952. After that, she returned back at home and worked there as a teacher of Kazakh language. Nowadays my mother’s parents are pensioners. They live in Oskemen city and every summer I visit them.

I started my essay talking about heavy period in which they lived when they were young. Now they are old people, some of them have died. I think that everyone should give more attention to their grandparents. They require it.

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Unedited Versions of Three Babushkis Stories

Yesterday we had three babushki ladies come to our classroom to tell their whole long life story in a short 15 minutes each.  A tall order for all three because eachof them has led such a rich life.  They are grateful to still be alive and were very happy to visit our university and meet the younger generation representative of Kazakhstan.  These ladies are lonely and living with their memories. It was as refreshing for them to tell their stories as it was for my students who eagerly soaked it in with their notetaking.  The following is Rahkhat’s account from what she wrote in English from her copious notes in Russian. 

#1 – Valentina Romanovna was born in 1930 in village. Her family consisted of 9 people: 3 died, 4 were living, but it couldn’t be called as living. During Great Patriotic War, the living conditions were very beggarly and often there was absolutely nothing to eat. She remembered when they had to eat seeds of flowers or even skin of some animals. They were all poisoned and subsequently it affected their health, because nowadays they are all having problems with stomach. It was really hard times!

Valentina was only 10 years old, when the war broke out. She actually finished the first class and that’s it. When it was very cold, nobody visited school, since there were no conditions to study at all. However the main reason of it is that she had to work together with adults. Her first job was working as a nurse in hospital, and then she worked as a teacher in kindergarten. There were times when she even had to look after calves, those of whom usually children are afraid of! Once one of her calves got sick, Valentina was to be judged or sent to an exile. She was stubborn girl and she decided to be sent to banishment, while her mother tried to convince her to go to chairman and to apologize to him. Eventually she stayed in kolkhoz.

For 13 years she had been working as a miner. At the age of 45 she was on a pension. She had 2 children: Anatoly, who was born in 1953 and Nicolay, two years older. Anatoly went to army in Vladivostok, unfortunately he died there. The second brother Nicolay was striving to revenge for his brother and also went to army, but unlike his sibling he returned home alive. 

Valentina and her son moved to Almaty. At that time, he had a daughter – Ira, who then gave birth to Lisa, his granddaughter. Lisa had huge physical and mental disabilities, she was invalid.  Once Nicolay went for hunting and there his boat was crushed by the river. She took her sister and they started to look for him, but in vain, this trip was fatal for him. Valentina’s husband drank a lot and he finally got cirrhosis of liver, which lead him to death. So, Valentina lost her husband and children, but she still had her mother, who lived for 100 years and 3 months. Valentina’s mother came to Almaty in order to be with her daughter. Today, Valentina has a brother and two sisters still living, one in Almaty and another in Moscow.

That’s just a brief story of Valentina Romanovna’s life. She has to be a really strong woman to endure all the difficulties of that time! She stood in front of us as a living example of a person who had a lot of grieves, who was able to overcome them and who wishes us, young generation peace, happiness and never see a war time!

#2 – Natalya Nikiforovna is about the same age as Valentina, or one year younger. She was born in Semipalatinsk region. She had one brother, who was 5 years younger. She said that her family didn’t suffer much from famine during the war, because they had their own vegetable garden and that was enough to feed the whole family. At the age of 10, Natalya had to mow hay in order to sustain a cow. She completed 7 years of study in school. Her father went to the front and there he was killed. Government didn’t give them any pension payments for him. They just received 20 rubles each – for her and her brother. Corn and cattle was taken from every family in order to sustain soldiers and those who directly was in the front and fought in battles against enemies. There was very popular slogan: “Everything for the front!”    

            At the age of 22, she worked as an accountant. Actually, she continued her education, having already two children. Overall, she spent 38 years of her life on working at two jobs. However, she earned a pension, which wasn’t fairly distributed, because government didn’t consider the length of her working experience, measured in years. She should have had received more in comparison to others, but she earned even less – 110 rubles, instead of 120!                

            Her daughter graduated two universities successfully in Moscow and Almaty. The year of 1946 is characterized as the year of the horrible event – start up of nuclear tests in Semipalatinsk proving ground. Natalya’s son gave birth to a boy with uncountable disabilities. Her daughter couldn’t give birth to a child for the same reason. This mistake of particular group of people led to terrible consequences for thousands of innocent people, which we can observe even today. Natalya said that there was one big family, where they had 4 girls born bandy-legged. It’s awful!  That’s the craziest thing that a human being could do with another human being! The creation of war is the biggest fault of humanity!

            During the speech, she had her tears coming again and again…


#3 – Raisa was born in 1932 in Kirov city, in the family of four members. In 1942 her father joined the Soviet Army, but was killed. He worked on a plant, which produced writing pens with feather. When fascists were coming to Kursk, they were evacuated and sent to Zabaikalie region. There they were given “kolkhoz house” and they immediately started to work. She was the eldest among her siblings. She was 10 years old when she began to look after calves. At the age of 13 she worked as a milkmaid. She finished only seven classes of school. In the mornings she helped her mother, in the afternoon – she did her job. Together with her little brother and sister they used to wear boots by turn. Other people, including their neighbors were always trying to support them, giving some clothes or something that they needed to have. She told us that sometimes parachutes landed from time to time in the place where they lived. So, her mother took pieces of material and sewed clothes for children. In summer, Raisa worked as a combine operator.

 Later, she got married and left her family, moving to Tashkent. There she finished medical college to be a nurse. Being educated, she was enabled to send money to her family. Afterwards, she got a second education in Ulan-Ude in agricultural college to become a zoo-technician. Then she was sent to the north of Magadan region, which is in Chukotka. Later on, she was chosen as deputy or national assessor.

Until now she had been bringing up her grandchild.

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