Sherkhan Murtaza and his great works
Sherkhan Murtaza is an outstanding and gifted person. He is a person of a thorny destiny. ‘I have flown through my life on two wings’, - Sherkhan Murtaza once said in an interview. ‘These wings are journalism and writing. Everything that I experienced, I reflected in my works. And I started my work experience from doing translations from Russian into Qazaq language. I am very proud that I have translated into Qazaq language all works of a well-known Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov. I wrote my novels at night, while I waited from the Printing House for a signal number of the newspaper, which was often brought only in the morning.
One of the most famous works of the outstanding Qazaq writer Sherkhan Murtaza is a novel ‘The Moon and Aisha.’
The main character of the novel ‘The Moon and Aisha’ is Sherkhan Murtaza’s mother, whose name is Aisha. He grew up without a father, who was exiled to Siberia as ‘an Enemy of the People’. Sherkhan Murtaza saw what a great weight had been placed on his mother’s shoulders, who had to take care of three small children. Due to the difficult financial situation in the family, he had to live and study at a boarding school.
Sherkhan Murtaza in the novel ‘The Moon and Aisha’ equates his mother with the Moon. In fact, if the most powerful in the sky is the Moon in the worldview of a small child, then the center of the Universe on the Earth for him is the Mother, that is, Aisha. That is why he called the novel ‘The Moon and Aisha’.
In the image of Aisha, as in a mirror, the images of thousands of Qazaq women who for centuries were the keepers of the family hearth and national traditions, are reflected.
Dedication of Aisha to her three children who remained alone with the three orphans during the hungry, cold years of the Second World War, her struggle with local repressors, resisting their total abuse of power, the strength of her spirit make the readers look at her with admiration.
Despite all the troubles and tribulations of life, Aisha brings up her children honest, kind and sympathetic, in the spirit of love and patriotism to their homeland.
Another significant work of Sherkhan Murtaza is an epic novel ‘The Red Arrow’, dedicated to the life and work of Turar Ryskulov, the first Qazaq statesman, who became a member of the Soviet Russian government (existed between 1917-1946).
The author explains the reason of writing such a piece of work as follows: ‘Turar Ryskulov is my countryman, our destinies have something in common: we both grew up without fathers.
His father Ryskul killed the volost ruler Saimasai because of his cruelty and as a result he was sentenced to ten years for exile to Sakhalin (Siberia). While the pretrial investigation was under way, the 10-year-old Turar had to be with his father in the Verny prison, otherwise the relatives of the killed volost ruler could have killed him. Bronnikov, convicted for political reasons, was sitting in the same prison cell with them, who taught Turar Russian literacy.
Later, Turar Ryskulov was shot for bourgeois nationalism and pan-Turkism. (Pan-Turkism is a movement which emerged during the 1880s among Turkic intellectuals from Central Asian countries and Turkey with an aim to unite all Turkic peoples).
Sherkhan Murtaza, who wrote a novel about him, was labelled a neopan-Turkist. The text already prepared for publication in the journal ‘Zhuldyz’ was arrested and destroyed. The novel was released only after a positive review by the Party Institute of Qazaqstan.
About the Author
Sherkhan Murtaza is a People's Writer of Qazaqstan, Honored Worker of Culture of the Qazaq SSR. He was born on September 28, 1932 in the village of Talapty in the Zhambyl Region. He graduated from the Moscow State University in 1955.
He worked in the Qazaq State Publishing House of Fiction, then he was a journalist, literary worker and editor of the newspapers ‘Leninshil Zhas’ and ‘Socialist Qazaqstan’.
He was the Chief Editor of the three most famous Qazaqstani publications: ‘Zhalyn’, ‘Zhuldyz’, and ‘Qazaq Adebieti’. He also served as Chairman of the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Committee of Qazaqstan.
Since 1995, Sherkhan Murtaza engaged in creative activity. He began to make his first translations from Russian into Qazaq language in his student years.
The first collection of essays ‘Kurylysshy Daku’ was published in 1958. Sherkhan Murtaza is the author of the novels ‘Kara Marzhan’(‘A Black Pearl’) and ‘Kyzyl Zhebe’ (‘The Red Arrow’), the plays ‘Stalinge Khat’ (‘A Letter to Stalin’) and ‘Beseudіn Khaty’ (‘The Letter of Five people’).
His works have been translated into many languages of the world.
His books are about a rough life of a young widow, about hundreds of women's lives, about the taste of boarding bread, which one of the pupils hid under a pillow during the day and ate at night, sneaking. All these stories are taken from his life. After all, he belongs to the generation of people whose share has become an orphanage, famine, collectivization, war, post-war devastation and the gradual restoration of the people after hardship and deprivation.
Despite all the difficulties of life, Sherkhan Murtaza remained an optimist, a kind, sympathetic, sensitive, peace-loving, honest and hardworking person. He passed away on October 9 of this year.
The image of the mother in the works of the famous Qazaq writer Gabit Musrepov
A significant place in a creation work of Gabit Musrepov is given to stories about a Mother, written by him in different years. He created strong, romantic images, sang a great power of a Mother’s love.
In 1933, the young writer translated into Qazaq language the stories of Russian writer Maxim Gorky ‘The Birth of a Man’ and ‘Tales of Italy’. Preserving the romanticism of style, as a translator Gabit Musrepov emphasized some psychological points. He also changed some of the titles of the works of Maxim Gorky. Instead of ‘The Birth of a Man’, the reader received ‘The Mother of Mothers’. The sacred feeling of motherhood took a central place in translation, whereas in the original the attention was focused on the birth of a person. Gabit Musrepov liked the romantic pathos of the young Maxim Gorky. His words about the all-conquering Mother’s love echoes the popular, well-known to Gabit Musrepov an idea of the greatness of the Mother.
Proud and courageous women-heroines of the works of Gabit Musrepov are capable of great deeds. People bow their heads before them. A Mother in his works is an expression of a clear and alive conscience, a willingness to endure any trials in the name of the life of her children.
In the story ‘The Mother’s Wrath’ a mother named Kapia stood up for her son, who was sent to work in the rear. She went through all possible torment and humiliation to save her only son. At last in her burning anger she kills the district governor.
‘Who am I? A Slave ... Who are they? They are noble people ... They do what they want. Should I during all my life to endure the mockery? Am I a human-being or a dog? And suddenly she saw: a young man brought a big plate with a Qazaq traditional dish ‘besbarmak’ into a ‘yurt’ (a traditional Qazaq house). Above of the besbarmak lay a lamb head and on the edge of the plate was a sharp knife ... And I don’t know how it happened. I made a clutch at a knife, ran into the yurt. I came up directly to the district governor, who was lying on the pillows. I stabbed him with a knife firstly in the throat and then under the heart. My mental health broke down. I was completely furious’ – the woman was thinking.
And if love of the Mother knows no barriers, then love for the Mother is immeasurable. Even the heavy villain feels qualm of conscience before the Mother.
The cycle of stories of Gabit Musrepov about the Mother, in essence are about humaneness. The writer exalts a person, recalling about his nobility and greatness.
Nagima (the story ‘The courage of the Mother’) is a simple woman from a poor village, she is ready at the cost of her own life to defend a soldier of the Red Army. She sends her son Zhappar to help him, saying: ‘Zhappar, my son. You see, his strength has gone. Take a horse, go to him! Hide him in Uyshek-Zhale (It is a heavily wooded area).’
Antonov, the Head of the White Guards cruelly beates Nagima with a whip for this deed. It is terrible and embarrassing for neighbors to see how an innocent woman is beaten before their eyes.
‘If only it was possible to kill with eyes, Antonov would have been lying in the dust at her feet long ago’ – writes the author. Nagima’s courage faces the ordeal. Antonov beat her with a whip, a saber and a Mauser.
Antonov got tired of beating Nagima with a whip. The woman’s speech to the White Guards is both an accusation and a call to appeal to their own conscience. Nagima says to the White Guards, that they are ‘wolves’. And her voice is heard: none of Antonov’s soldiers dare to raise a hand to replace Antonov in this heinous crime, because it means to raise a hand against a Woman, against a Mother.
Moreover, someone from the detachment could not stand it and cut off Antonov’s head. Confused White Guards still do not know what they will do next, although one thing is clear to them: a person is created to live in peace and harmony.
Inimitable images of Mothers are fanned by poetry. The string of strong personalities, whose life is full of losses and sufferings in the works of Gabit Musrepov, make a strong impression.
In the story ‘The Mother’, a 30-year-old woman, full of courage and determination, in despair rushes after the forty young fellows, who took her daughter by force and hijacked herds of horses.
She does not yield men: she rides a horse perfectly, masterfully controls herds. She is brave and temerarious.
This woman tells the young fellows (in Qazaq language ‘jigits’) a non-fictional story - a story about her life. After it the attackers ‘were ashamed’. They cannot even look at woman’s eyes.
She managed to look deep into heart of every young fellow. She masterfully touches their hearts. She tries to find answers to such questions as: what rules the world?, why is a man miserable?, what is the essence of people’s being on the Earth?, what is happiness?.
In a short dialogue with one of these fellows - the batyr Zhanai, the wise woman opens his eyes on his life: ‘You are a free batyr (‘batyr’ is an honorific term, meaning hero in the Qazaq language) until you reach your village. And there you will lose your freedom and turn into an ordinary club of your bai (‘bai’ means not only a reach person, but also an owner) or biy (‘biy’ means a representative of a Ruling Power, who determines disputes). You are pushed around naming you as a batyr. You are not much more free, than me!’. His eyes opened: a woman is right. And brave batyr gives the woman and her daughter freedom. ‘What a wise woman!’ - says each other Zhanai and a blind Aytiles with sincere admiration.
About the Author
Gabit Musrepov is a writer, literary critic, novelist and playwright, public figure.
He was born on March 9 (March 22), 1902, in the village, named at present time Zhanazhol, North Qazaqstan Region.
In 1923-1926 he studied at the workers' faculty in Orenburg, then at the Omsk Agricultural Institute.
Gabit Musrepov started his literary activity in 1925. The first story under a title ‘In the Abyss’, written by him, was published in 1928. The novel was about the events, took place during the Civil War of 1918-1920.
He was a Chairman of the Writers' Union of Qazaqstan.
He was given a title of the People's Writer of Qazaqstan in 1984.
He was granted a title of an Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Qazaq SSR in 1985.
He passed away on December 31, 1985 at the age of 83.
Image of the mother in ‘A Legend about a Mankurt’
There were perpetual wars between the nomadic peoples who inhabited the Qazaq Great Steppe many centuries ago. The conquerors turned the defeated into slaves.
Juan-juans (another name is ‘Ruanruan’ or ‘the Rouran Khaganate’), who once captured most of the today’s Qazaqstan territory, were particularly cruel. They turned the captives into mankurts - people who lost their memory.
To achieve this goal they put on the captive's head a raw camel skin and left him or her without water and bread for several days in an open area.
The sun heated the raw skin, it began to tighten, and the person died from pain or went out of his or her mind, or at last lost his or her memory. Only on the fifth day the Juan-juans came to check if the prisoners survived. In practice 1-2 people out of five might survive. The remained after this terrible procedure alive people were considered to be the slaves – ‘mankurts’. Their price on local slave market of that time was very high. They cost a lot of money because they were people without memory. They used absolutely to forget about everything: their father or mother or somebody else, the only thing they knew was their owner.
Such a slave did not dream of freedom, he could do the hardest and dirtiest work and did not ask for anything. And none of his relatives and friends tried to make mankurt free, because he was a man without memory.
And the only mother, named Naiman-Ana, could not accept that fact. Her son, who participated in the battle with the Juan-juans, was captured. Naiman-Ana wanted to find her son. She dreamed of only one thing: let him be alive, let him be a mankurt who lost his memory, but only alive! She took a white handkerchief and went looking for him. Naiman-Ana walked for a long time on the Great Steppe and finally met a young man and recognized her son in him.
‘My dear son! I am looking for you!’ – she shouted – ‘I am your mother’. Suddenly she understood everything and cried. Her son did not even ask who she was and why she was crying. He had a blank incurious stare and he looked very calm. ‘You do not recognize me?’ – asked Naiman-Ana finally. ‘No’ – he answered. – ‘What is your name?’ – she asked. ‘Mankurt’ – he said.
‘It is your name now. What was your name before? Tell me, please, try to remember!’ – Naiman-Ana asked him. Mankurt kept a silence. ‘What is your father’s name? Who are you? Where were you born? Do you know it?’ – she continued questioning. But he did not remember anything and did not know. ‘What have they done to you?!’ - Naiman-Ana said quietly. ‘Do you hear me? Your name is Zholaman. Your father’s name was Donenbay. Do you remember your father? He taught you archery when you were a child. And I am your mother. Do you hear?’
But he was indifferent to what was said by his mother to him. ‘Let me see what they did to your head’, - Naiman-Ana said. ‘No’, - answered the Mankurt and did not want to talk to his mother anymore. Naiman-Ana decided to take her son home. ‘It would be better for him to live at home than in the steppe being a slave for the Juan-juans. Naiman-Ana asked her son to return home stubbornly, but he did not understand how to leave the place without permission of the landlord.
‘What did they do to you?’ – exclaimed the mother being heartbroken. ‘You can take away the land, you can take away the wealth, you can take away even life, but who invented to deprive a person of his memory?!’
Naiman-Ana repeated over and over: ‘Your father is Donenbay! Your name is not Mankurt! Your name is Zholaman! When you were born, we had a great feast-day in our family!’. Suddenly Naiman-Ana saw a man riding on a camel. He was coming closer to them. ‘Who is this?’ – asked the old woman. ‘He is my owner.’ – her son answered. She had to leave. ‘Do not tell him anything, I will come soon.’ – said Naiman-Ana. Her son did not answer. It was not important for him. He was indifferent to her entreaties.
However the Juan-juan already saw a woman. ‘Who was that?’ – he asked the Mankurt. ‘She says that she is my mother’ - he answered. The Juan-juan shouted: ‘She is not your mother! You do not have a mother! Do you know what she wants? She wants to take your head!’. The Mankurt was scared. His face turned gray. – ‘Do not be afraid!’ – said the owner - ‘Do you know how to bow hunt? Here you are, take it?’. And he gave the Mankurt a bow and arrow.
When the Juan-juan left, Naiman-Ana сame up to her son. She did not notice that her son, the Mankurt was already preparing to shoot. The sun prevented him to shoot at her mother and he waited for the right moment. ‘Jolaman, my son!’ - called an old woman. But it was too late: an arrow shot her right in the heart. It was the death blow. Naiman-Ana started to fall, slowly. But earlier a white handkerchief fell from her head, turned into a bird and flew with a cry: ‘Remember who you are! What is your name! Your father is Donenbay! Donenbay!’
They say that even now a person walking along the Qazaq steppe can hear this bird shouting: ‘Remember, who are you? What is your name? Your father is Donenbay!’. And Naiman-Ana’s last resting-place exists by now. It is called Ana-Beyit (Mother's rest-place).
The word ‘mother’ is a special word. It is born with us, accompanies us during our life and with this word we leave this world. We can talk about our mothers endlessly. They are the most kind, proud and courageous people in the world for us.
How many lives were saved by their hands, how many misfortunes drove out their kind words, how many brave deeds were committed by them!
It is difficult to find words that could tell about the endless love of our mothers. People make poems, songs, beautiful legends and serious books about mothers.
This story is based on a real life events and a Qazaq folk tale, included by an outstanding Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov to his well-known novel ‘The Day lasts More Than a Hundred Years’ and it cannot fail to touch the hearts of readers. It undoubtedly serves as a great example of endless mother’s love.
Myths and folk tales of Qazaq people: ‘Endless tenderness of Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu’
The greatest love affairs in history shows that many famous beloved met a sad end. A lot of countries may declare that they have at least one romance tale about such a bright and great adoration! The most known stories are about Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde. Qazaqs have such a love story as well. The main heroes of the story are a Qazaq fellow Kozy Korpesh and a Qazaq girl Bayan Sulu.
As a folk tale says: Parents of Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu were very good friends. To seal a pact of friendship they agreed to wed their kids. So, their kids were engaged to one another before their birth. Suddenly, a father of Kozy Korpesh died in a terrible hunting accident. After his death Bayan sulu and Kozy Korpesh were born. They grew up separately, but they knew about their engagement. When they became adult they got acquainted by chance and were enchanted by each other. But her father by that time had another intention with regard to his daughter. He wanted Bayan Sulu to marry another man. It was a local fellow Kodar. Earlier he helped Bayan Sulu’s father to save from starving his cattle. So Kodar appeared as a wall between two beloved. Bayan sulu and Kozy Korpesh got involved in a triangular situation. Kozy Korpesh lost his life first while fighting for love. A grief-stricken Bayan sulu wanted to avenge his beloved’s death and decided to use a stratagem. She gave a word to become Kodar’s wife if he would bore a well with access to drinking water. Kodar with great pleasure accepted her clause and set to work. While digging the well he held with his hands Bayan’s queue. He dug deeper and deeper… And Bayan sulu very quick cut her queue. Kodar died in the hollow and Bayan sulu’s beloved was avenged. On Kozy Korpesh burial place Bayan sulu killed herself by plunging the dagger into herself.
According to the folk tale, on the the burial place of a loving couple grew out a miraculous rosebush … But its flowers did not live long. Very soon they shriveled, became brown, dried up.
Authenticity of the age of the folk tale proves a unique archaeological find – a golden belt. On its surface one can see a seated female figure surrounded by poplars. A woman was bent over a head of a dead man. The scientists say that the belt was made in the 18th century. It was found in the eastern part of the Irtysh river near the Altai Mountains. At present moment the belt is exhibited in Hermitage.
The love light of two beloved inspires poets and writers for many centuries. Even a famous Russian writer Aleksandr Pushkin upon arrival to the place where it happened wrote down the folk tale for himself.
In the memory of Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu the younger brother of Kozy Korpesh’s father built a Mazar or a mausoleum near the aul Tansyk situated in the East Qazaqstan Region. Mazar is a grave of a muslim ‘saint’. It is a rare example of early medieval architecture.
Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu’ mazar is added into the list of 100 sacred objects of Qazaqstan.
At the same time Qazaqstan celebrates Valentine’s Day on April 15. The day, dedicated to a big love of the heroes of the Qazaq folk tale ‘Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu’ is an alternative to the international holiday of Saint Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated on the 14th of February around the world.
‘Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu’ is a heartbreaking story, that has become a great legend.