Proverbs and Sayings from "The Silent Steppe"

kazakhnomad
kazakhnomad
Apr 26, 2008, 7:49 PM |
0
Quotes from The Silent Steppe: The Story of a Kazakh Nomad Under Stalin

 by Mukhamet Shayakhmetov, published by Stacey International, London, 2006

 

p. 10 We would celebrate with folk songs and music, competitions for improvising poetry, and different kinds of sporting contests.  This is how life was while I was growing up in our small aul, with its half-dozen yurts belonging to close relatives.  But the Soviet authorities brought it all to an end when they introduced collective farms, and gave the terrible name ‘kulak’ to my father and Uncle Toimbai.” 

 

p. 22 – My father began speaking, “…Remember the popular old saying: God has no wealth.  He gives it from one person to another.”  Well, it now appears to be true.  The authorities and aul activists have taken everything away from the rich and handed it over to idlers and made some of us extremely poor overnight.”

 

p. 32 “In 1930, the main topic of conversation was the daily news brought to the steppe by word of mouth (the so-called uzyn kulak – ‘long ear’ of the steppe telegraph), which was our only source of information.  Because we did not have radios or telephones, or even a postal service, it could take up to a year for information about new laws or important events to reach the far-flung regions of the country.

 p. 33 – “Everything that’s been said here is complete rubbish.  And the bit about the collective farms and communes – they’ve all been thought up by the aul activists.  What good is Lenin’s wife to us lot here when all the power is in their hands?  The power’s completely gone to their heads and made them barking mad because they have no idea what to do with it.  People who have never managed to run their own affairs are now in charge of people’s lives.  How can a society be run by people who never obeyed their grandfathers or listened to their wisdom?  It reminds me of the old saying, “When there’s no lord, a slave will take his place, and when there’s no dog, a pig will guard the yard!” 

p. 52 “Where the front wheel goes, the back wheel has to follow…”  Now I know what that saying means.  He was referring to his elder brother Toimbai’s dispossession as a kulak in a similar way the year before.

 p. 62 “We children could tell how much the grown-ups were suffering by the way they kept sighing deeply and sadly repeating the old Kazakh proverb, “Poverty is fine as long as there’s something in the pot.” p. 80 “We Kazakhs have always treated anyone related to us through marriage with great reverence.  As a popular saying put it:  ‘In-laws should be venerated like God.’