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Proverbs and Sayings from "Silent Steppe" Part II

kazakhnomad
Apr 27, 2008, 7:36 PM 0

 Quotes taken from Mukhamet Shayakhmetov's book titled The Silent Steppe: The Story of a Kazakh Nomad under Stalin, Stacey International, London, 2006

 

p. 105 Nevertheless, he [Uncle Zhantursyn] enjoyed giving instructions whenever he could, repeating over and over again, ‘When you do a job, you’re doing someone else a favour, and when you learn something new, you’re doing yourself a favour.” As a popular saying puts it, “if you want your horses to go faster, use oats and not a whip.” 

p. 106 “The people of Kalmakbai strictly observed their time-honoured traditions, and treated us newcomers with great kindness and consideration.  It was here that I first heard people cite the popular saying, Your duty to your neighbor is as sacred as it is to God.” And I think I understood what it meant when I saw how attentive our neighbors were to us. 

p. 116 “Three families with thirteen people between them now had to live together in one large room.  As the Kazakh saying goes, “By spring, fat stock grows thin, and by spring thin stock’s nothing.” 

p. 135 “This dreadful catastrophe did not, however, become as rampant that year in the northern, north-western and agricultural mountainous areas of Eastern Kazakhstan as in the rest of the country.  But as the popular Kazakh saying goes: “Once one family’s going hungry, soon the whole aul is, and once one aul’s going hungry, soon there’s a famine nation-wide.” 

p. 136 The adults kept talking about the starving refugees being brought here and housed in the barrack.  As a child, I had no idea what the Kazakh word for ‘starving’ “asharyk”, meant and when I asked, Father and Mother started flapping their hands and exclaiming fearfully, “Be quiet, Don’t say that word!” And then they became whispering, “O Allah, may this misfortune pass us by!” 

p. 154  I have tried to contribute by at least reminding my children (who have always lived in towns) of the duty families have towards needy relations.  Every living creature has to take care not only of itself, but also of its descendants who will ensure the survival of the species.  And as a popular Kazakh saying puts it, There is no life without movement”; constant activity is required to sustain it. 

p. 155 You see, a Kazakh man was traditionally duty-bound to look after his wife’s parents or, as the Kazakh saying put it:  “Once you’ve cut the corn, you mustn’t burn the straw left behind.” 

p. 171 “Yet when he told me all this – since there was nobody else to pour his heart to – he still showed extraordinary generosity of spirit. The children of your sisters and daughters, as people used to say, come from another clan, while your own daughters are destined for another clan.” 

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