Antonina Kookueva, About My Family, Traditional Education and Family Relics
Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge
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Terbish, B. (2018). Antonina Kookueva, About My Family, Traditional Education and Family Relics [Video file]. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.42543
Antonina talks about her ancestors, parents, her childhood and family relics: My ancestors lived in a large Russian village called Chelyuskin in Tsaritsyn. My father was born in 1917, and my mother in 1915. Both of my parents had a 2-year education. My mother worked as a secretary of the village council. My aunt used to say that my mother rode a two-wheeled cart in the village and that she had long braids. She collected food tax in butter, milk and eggs. After finishing a course for tractor drivers, my father drove tractors and as he was one of the best workers he was awarded a ticket to a sanatorium in Crimea. The whole village saw him off, he was even given a sheepskin coat and a hat, although it turned out that Crimea was a hot place. In 1939, my father was drafted by the army and served in the Trans-Baikal District. In 1941, he was sent to the front, fought near Smolensk, and was taken prisoner. He ended up in Germany where local residents took prisoners as workers. The German who took my father was originally from the Volga region and spoke Russian. My father worked for him until the Red Army liberated the place. He was detained at the military office and allowed to join his family in the town of Tavda in Sverdlovsk oblast. When my father came to register, he was told that he would not survive there and was advised to take his family and go to another place. They moved to Novosibirsk oblast where I was born in 1947. From my childhood I remember that I dipped bread in a large kettle with bacon. We lived well and did not starve. Kalmyks survived thanks to their religion and those who helped them. I finished 2nd grade in school in the village of Buksir. It was spring time. My father read in the newspaper that the Kalmyks would be allowed to return to their homeland. The decree on the restoration of the Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist republic came out in 1956. In 1954 we moved from Siberia to Abganerovo. In one hand I carried a gramophone, and with my other hand I helped an old man who was a monk and never got married. During exile, he stayed with the Kalmyks, moving from one family to another, and at that time it just happened that he was staying with us. We settled in the Abganerovo station in the Privolzhskiy state farm, Stalingrad oblast. There I graduated from school, which as I later learned, was built by the Kalmyk Prince Tundutov. My father, who was the eldest member and the only man in his family, helped his sisters. About my husband’s parents. At the beginning of the war, my husband’s father, Godzha Takhishevich Kookuev, served in the 110th Cavalry, and under Krasnodar he was seriously wounded in the leg and became disabled, after which he was allowed to return to his village of Ulan-Khol. In 1943, he was deported to the Altaiskiy krai where he worked as a chief accountant. In the evening he collected all the young Kalmyks around him to teach them book keeping so that they did not work in the taiga. Upon his return to Kalmykia, he worked as an accountant. He wanted his children to become teachers. His eldest son, my husband, became a teacher. My husband, an honorary worker of education, worked as director of a correctional school in Elista for 17 years. Godzha helped all his relatives and taught them to be honest. In Ulan-Khol he was nicknamed ‘the commandant’, as he resolved disputes between the villagers. Godzha died early. His younger brother, Ivan (Kalmyk name was Garya), was a soldier in the Red Army and even reached Berlin. I am proud that I married into the Kookuevs. When we lived in Siberia, children who were brought up in orphanages left these institutions at 16. One day my mother brought a girl to our house who stayed on to live with us. Later she got married and left for Kemerovo. She told me a story about her relative who went to Siberia in search of his mother. He traced her to a place where he was told that his mother had gone to the local military commander’s office. When he arrived there, he found his mother frozen dead under a tree. I was the only daughter in my family. My two brothers both died in Siberia. Although my grandmother and mother knew Russian proverbs and folklore, they observed Kalmyk traditions at home, and I only spoke Kalmyk until the age of 3. I got married at 19. In the family of Kookuevs, their father Godzha Takhishevich was respected very much. At that time, they lived with their grandmother who was 75. Godzha Takhishevich brought her home from Kazakhstan, and she died aged 101. She made tea separately for Godzha, women and children. They had this hierarchy in their family. During dinner, grandmother first poured tea for Godzha. Only after him were women allowed to drink, and lastly were children. During Zul, grandmother did not put out candles for herself. She used to say that if Godzha puts candles for himself, she would be alright. During holidays their relatives paid them a visit. When my son was born, we went to see all our relatives. For this, my mother-in-law prepared food and gifts. All my relatives revered my husband’s family. About relics of my family. On our domestic altar we have a statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, Manjushri, and a stupa of enlightenment. We also have an old thangka of Amitayus, Buddha of longevity. On the eve of Tsagan Sar and Zul, my mother used to take it out, hang it, and we put coins out and prayed. Once the holiday was over, she folded the thangka and hid it again. Today, this thangka is kept in my son’s family.
Ancestors, parents, childhood, family relics
Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.42543