Posts tagged Xinjiang

“My Granny’s Story” by Serik

Early twentieth century was a harsh time for everyone. I never thought about those years. How it was for our grandparents? What were they doing to survive? Other many questions which I ask myself never came to me before the story I heard from my grandmother. She told us stories from her childhood right before her peaceful soul left this world. Even that time I did not pay big attention. But now after discovering some further information on my grandmother’s family, I realized how interesting her life was, even if she had a hard time.

          My mother’s mother almost whole her life spent in Bayin Olgey. The city where mostly live only Kazakh people, but the city itself is in Mongolia. Do not miss this point: how amazing it is that several pure Kazakh people are still alive and live in the heart of Mongolia. The country, which always threatened Kazakhstan, and used to be their most dangerous enemy. Of course my granny died there. She left this significant historical account of her father and uncle.

 The story begins from rich graph of a big tribe Sukirbay, who had two children. Dorvodhan (my grand – grand father) and Dallelhan became graphs in their early ages, when on one occasion their father Sukirbay died. But time was against them. Just after a while getting those important posts, USSR expansions got to their territory. The USSR blamed them that they helped the “Reds” so called group which was against the “Whites”. Not thinking long my grandmother’s father and his brother left everything, including their family and all the gold they had. They ran towards China hoping to find help there. Nevertheless in short distance from the borders government army caught them. The only dungan agent tried to help them. But knowing that he could not let both of them leave alive, he offered a deal. So the deal was that he would shoot one of them while everyone would be looking at this action, so that the other could run away. Not letting the dungan officer wait long my grand – grand father told these words to his younger brother: “My brother you are too young to die. Let me die, because I lived half of my life and I am older. Just promise me to survive this war, take care of my family, especially my daughter, grow to be a man, whom everyone will respect and do not let down our family name. I believe in you, now run as fast you can.”


So after these words young Dallelhan left to China. As he promised after studying at Moscow University and finishing his KGB courses in Tashkent he finally became a general of specific area in China. He helped his family, relatives and his brother’s family to emigrate from Mongolia. Settling them in Eastern Turkistan (Xinjiang) he lived his life trying to separate this are from China. His dream was to break out from China with territory of Eastern Turkistan and for his goal he even became a spy for USSR. The region was strategically important and rich in minerals (oil, gold etc.), then if the territory was successful in independence admission and admitted by the world coalition, USSR was planning to make it as one of the Soviet Republics (as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan etc.). That was the reason why the Russian government was helping him. But Chinese were cool hearted and more smart, so when the Soviets plan gone down China occupied and crashed the so called Autonomy of Eastern Turkistan. USSR had no choice, but did a secret deal with Chinese and those leaders (who were used by Soviets, as my grandmother’s uncle).


Though after some time, those leaders died on airplane crash including Sir Dallelhan. The reason of the crash is still not discovered, but there is some gossip that actually the Soviets planned this operation. So that they would not let leak the information, which the leaders obtained while working for Soviets.   

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“Strong Belief” Nurganym’s narrative

Family ties are very important for many, especially for Kazakhs because according to our tradition we should know seven ancestors by names. I often heard my father in law telling stories to my children (sometimes, I think, he makes up some of his stories…) about old days. That great man gave me many interesting life lessons and taught very important things. In order to understand how this person became who he is today – a very well known and greatly respected person among 1.5 million Chinese Kazakhs – I would carefully listen to all his stories about his childhood, youth and early life.


He grew up in western Turkistan – today’s Xinjiang – on the border of North Eastern China and Western Kazakhstan. He doesn’t remember his parents, he became an orphan when he was a baby, and his aunt rose him up. They were cattle breeders and as all nomads used to move from pasture to pasture,  they stayed winters in China and summers in Kazakhstan – back then no borders remain between countries (Last time he saw his motherland in 1947 since then this is his dream to visit those places again). He rode on horses and grew up naughty and prankish but never was punished which was uncommon in Kazakh families and was against child rearing principles at that old days.


At the age 17 he fell in love with a young pretty girl who soon became his wife, it was usual to start family life at that early age back then. His adolescence coincides with Chinese revolution and soon he went to Beijing to learn Mao’s communism doctrines. He left his pregnant wife and young daughter. Soon after when the second child was born, his wife and my mother in law traveled from Urumqi to Beijing to reunite with his husband after two years living apart. The trip took almost two weeks by train, and a young woman, who did not speak a word of Chinese was have to travel with two little children with all these strangers who would help her all way along sharing food with her and taking care of her children. My father in law says that he still can see a picture in front of him of his skinny wife holding nine months old baby and a little girl dragging large heavy bag on the ground.


Soon after my mother in law was have to attend ideological courses in Beijing, and she left her little child with Chinese nanny who leaved away from them and reared her son until he reached five. They could see their children on weekends, and she very upset when heard son calling nanny “mommy”.


After five years of life in capital they returned to their homeland where they went thru hard years of starvation, poverty and building communism. My mother in law says that is her merit that her husband could build his career; she did everything to help him, gave him suggestions and raised four children alone. 


I think the main reason is that they could fight with all the difficulties together without fear and believed in a great future.









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