As I am an ordinary Kazakh girl I also have got a lot of grandparents, because we call “azhe” our own grandmother and her sisters, and call “ata” our own grandfather, and his brothers, even though many of them passed away, I still have a grandmother who told me story of her childhood and the life of her father. My whole family from my father’s side comes from an ordinary family who had always lived in a village of Western Kazakhstan, so called “sovhoz”.
First of all, let me tell you about my Grandmother’s father, his name is Shinibek and he was born in a family with not so many children. He had lost his parents when he was still a child and lived very poor, he did not get an education as many people of that time, and he got married early. During that time (about 1930s) medicine was very poor especially in sovhozs, which was the main reason why my great grandma lost 4 of her children: all of them died from different diseases that are curable nowadays. My grandmother was the 5th child and the only one who survived. She was born in January of 1940, just after her birth, her father was sent to Finn War, this was at the beginning of World War II. He fought there for a couple years and later he was sent to war between the USSR and Japan. Meantime in 1946 when my grandma was only six, her mother died and she was taken by our relatives to live.
In 1947 her father came back from the war but it did not mean that for my grandma times became better, she also has seen times of starvation when all people where given out bread by coupons ( about 1952-53). She did manage to get her education of 11 grades but still she remembers those times as being very hard.
Shinibek ata married another woman whose name was Kapiza who became a stepmother to my grandmother. Raikhan azhe, who is my grandmother, got married to my grandfather Sali, they together gave birth to 5 sons and one daughter. The second child was my father. But, to tell, the truth, officially, I have no right to call my real grandmother Raikhan “azhe” because she gave my father to her stepmother Kapiza. She was my azhe when I was born, and she was the one who raised me and taught me speaking, but she died when I was 7. So I have Raikhan apa(aunt from Kazakh), whom I first time in my life called azhe, just because, otherwise, I would have confused you.
The tradition of giving the oldest child was very popular among Kazakhs of earlier centuries but even today some families do so. Because we have very strong connection between relatives and we give oldest son, so that when he grows up he could take care of elder people.
There is also another story that Raikhan apa told me, this is about her husbands father, whose name was Berkali and he was the Head (predsedatel) of Aul Sovet, but when there was a repression in 1939, due to a slander to his authority he was sent away. In 1952 he was discharged officially but nobody knew where he was and we even do not know where his grave is.