Saturday afternoon I was invited to visit some special friends. I met Masugut and Eltai through my colleagues in Astana. Their daughter lives next door to my colleagues while Masugut and Eltai live in Karaganda.
Over the last year, on almost every trip to Astana, one of them rode either to or from Astana with me. We have gotten to know each other quite well.
Masugut is an interested and intriguing fellow. As a child, his father was sent to Sverdlovsk work camp by authorities. He never saw his father again as he died while in prison. He went to live with his grandfather, who didn’t receive a pension and so collected sheet metal, made basins and sold them.
When his grandfather died, he lived with other relatives and eventually ended up at boarding school. After graduating from an institute, he went to work in a coal mine. Once, a Communist party official encouraged him to join the party. He joked that it was too early for him as he was still young. He couldn’t tell the official the truth about his father being “repressed.”
Six months later, the official called him again. Masugut finally told the official the truth about his father. The official suggested he should write a letter to the Supreme Soviet inquiring about his father’s rehabilitation. Shortly, he received an answer, “that my father was rehabilitated because he had been seized in illegal way.”
He showed the letter to the Party official and was admitted into the party. Masugut stated that he worked hard for the party and was promoted, eventually to the first secretary of the party in Saran (a city about 25 km from Karaganda).
Masugut showed me his photo album from his time as first scretary. There were lots of photos of him meeting with lots of high party officials. One notable person is now the president of Kazakhstan.
Masugut visted the US in 1995. He loves to talk about his visit and has shared with me often about his trip. He loves to introduce my colleagues from MO as his relatives from MO and introduces me as his relative from Texas.
His wife, Eltai loves to feed me, just about every time we meet. Saturday she fixed the traditional Kazakh dish, “besparmak” meaing 5 fingers. It is a dish of horse meat, large lasagna-type noodles, onions, carrots and potatoes. Most of the time she also prepares horse “sausage”, all of which is very tasty. As usual, she filled up my plate so many times that I lost count and even right now, my refrigerator has a plate waiting for me to eat.