Tokhtakhodzhaeva Marfua.

"XX century by Uzbekistan women’s eyes". Extracts from the book

                                                                                                                                                                         16.08.2008 17:10 msk

                                                                                                                                                                            Aleksey Volosevich

Marfua Tokhtakhodzhaeva was born in Tashkent, her specialty is architect. She worked 30 years in this area, candidate of the science. She was a founder and chairman of Women’s Resource Centre in Tashkent, one of first nongovernmental organization in sovereign Uzbekistan. At present she is an independent researcher and journalist.

Marfua Tokhtakhodzhaeva wrote many articles about events in the country, as well as researches about position of the women in Uzbekistan and Central Asia. In 2003 she was noted by international organizations in Tashkent as "Woman of the year in Uzbekistan".

She is an author of the following books: The Daughters of Amazons. Voices from Central Asia. Shirkat Gah, 1996; Between slogans of the communism and law of the islam // Office of Regional programs. Vienna, 1999; The tired by the past. Reislamization of society and position of women in Uzbekistan // Office of Regional programs. Vienna, 2001; XX century by Uzbekistan women’s eyes// Publishers "Natalis". Moscow, 2008.                                                                                                                                                        

The appearance of new interesting books about Uzbekistan is always become the event. "XX century by Uzbekistan women’s eyes" book was published in “Natalis, the Moscow publishing house consisted of oral tales, letters and notes in the diary of fifteen women telling about their life and destiny. More than 80 years period from the first after revolution years till our days are told in their memoirs. Having opened this book you can find the portrait of the menacing XX century described by women’s view, women’s awareness through all these simple stories.  

"Every of our heroine has a world of feelings and knowledge in herself formed under influence of the epoch. XX age was become a sign of the change the epochs for Uzbekistan, when all were changed very fast, - the compiler of the book writes, Marfua Tokhtakhodzhaeva, the known Tashkent publicist and researcher. - The described period in book the best of all is characterized by "Time is forward!", the slogan of the 30th years. What was everyday life for people of the recent past, today it has a history value. Each of our heroines fills the events by a detail to her life allowed to feel deeply this past: mode, relations between people, events, their influence upon a separate person, overcoming of difficulties, maintenance of personality, sensation of own value and even destinations. Such feelings of heroines as humour, joy and satisfaction, distress and suffering, their daydreams, cogitations and actions are disturbing for me, and I have the respect and hot liking to each of them".

Marfua Tokhtakhodzhaeva has told about that how an idea of making the book was appeared, where women were collective authors, and how this book was created in conversation with correspondent of "Fergana.Ru".

My idea of the book was appeared at the end of the 90th years. Fund Soros had such program as a collection of oral stories. Mariann Kamp collected such stories. It was stories about women, who participated in khudzhum at one time. Khudzhum is an incineration of yashmak. Mariann Kamp collected these stories recorded at soviet time, recorded at relating to perestroika time, and that which were fixed at period of independence by us. And the same women spoke of different things differently. And in soviet and at relating to perestroika time they, mainly, spoke of that what it was expected from them. And only after the 90th years they started to tell stories, can be, more real to the real life. We always thought that Uzbek women were in yashmak, they were such downtrodden and so on. But there were already women who never dressed yashmak at the beginning of XX century, in the 10th and the 20th years. These were daughters, wives of great people and their stories are interesting because many of them participated in khudzhum as organizers. So Mariann Kamp has collected stories of these women or Uzbek ladies adapted to the Soviet reality changing their identification. All of them were daughters of poor peasants or were from worker’s family in stories told by them in the Soviet time, but it was not truth.

XX century is very ambiguous and very interesting for historians. I am surprised, why there are not books about history of our country in the XX th century. One sides of life with ideological viewpoint were described by the Soviet historiography. The ideology was become another after independence. All these facts in another viewpoint were described by it and what was white at Soviet time, suddenly became black. But there were and white and black.

So I was interested because I wanted to hear the truthful stories. When I worked in Women’s Resource Centre worked about  12 years (it was closed at the end of 2005, when authorities have forbidden an activity a majority of Uzbek NGO – note of ed.),

I have met with many women on kind of my work. However, the problem was that to collect the truthful stories was very difficult (I do not already say about men because I worked as journalist and I was given such interview, where truths, probably was five percent not more). Working with woman, I have understood that possible to obtain - do not say the full truth - but, anyway, almost openness. I have chosen heroines, who were not famous by their own position at job, their social level. Because I worked with such women but all their stories were the same: women have said that they were so good, unselfish and they were offended having taken away from one or another job position. So I have decided that it should be another group of women. During the work I have met with them much times, sometimes about ten times with several women to check up their information.

Fergana.Ru: It is noticed that many women speak about their life place, everyday life, and family relations hard and impartially…

- It is usual thing that after getting the independence we come back to our tradition, to customs, to our culture. But that intellectuals, who writes about these tradition, spoke one at the Soviet time, but today they already speak quite another. Indeed, there are traditions, which we need to save, and there are traditions, which were outdated themselves. It is necessary to save those traditions, which are universal values, but certainly, it is necessary to overcome those which are connected with patriarchal everyday life, with medieval views, and with look at woman, as on the secondary being. However, during these 17 years we see that propaganda, cultivation of our uniqueness, custom, rituals has results today. At present there are many Uzbek women considered that they should live only for their family and children side by side with educated women. There is nothing bad in it if it their own choice. Unless refuse from participation in the public life, from education and in general desire to the development... On the one hand it is advertised that young generation chooses "coca cola", and on the another hand the advertisement says that young generation chooses yashmak. It is chosen as well as women and men since men often force their own wives and daughters to dress such cloth.

Fergana.Ru: - Did you have to smooth over acute angles in your book coming from ethical considerations?

- It was connected with that, as tellers related to written tale themselves. There were situations, when women spoke: “Well, may be, we should not write about it, please you should strike off it because you can offend somebody”. Thereby, I have known the censorship of participants of my project.

Fergana.Ru: - The life of women from Uzbekistan is described in your book, but it is published in Russia. Is it possible to publish the same book in Uzbekistan?

- Certainly, first of all Uzbek reader must be my reader. And I have shown this book in Uzbekistan but, unfortunately, some “comrades” using old terminology said: “You know it is wrong and that should be done by another way”. It is expensive to publish in Uzbekistan because there is not competition. It is published cheaper in Moscow. The half of the expenses was paid by publishing house interested by book. They have presented it in the book fair and the book was sold. All circulation was sold.

I must say that I am very grateful to women, who have told me their own stories. I have opened absolutely another world of these women for myself and my readers have said to me (these were young people not remembering the Soviet time) when the book has been already published: “There are much horrible things in their stories. But we envy them because they are sure in tomorrow day”. This is one more theme what we should think about. Because all my heroines had such the main purpose as own development through education. Now the desire to the development is only through money, through earning money. I like very much story of Gulnara Gafurova. The girl came to Tashkent from the country, from the far Surkhandaria village. She studied free absolutely. She became PhD. Of course, it was our slogan in the Soviet time. And at present I think that possibility of women to get education is restricted because of rise of such patriarchal awareness in the family. We had a possibility to have more qualitative education than it is now. Having seen negative sides of our Soviet history I am sorry that we did not keep that what we should keep and we kept such negative things as corruption, fear and disrespect to the person.

It has been written by Aleksey Volosevich

Extracts from new publication are published by kind permit of the compiler of the book

"In spring, 1926 when arrests of participants of Kokand autonomy were begun, my father was also arrested, who was running to Turkestan at that time. He was arrested in train by officers from GPU and arrived in Tashkent, where he went to the prison. Grandmother, mother, sisters and I became alone. Twice a week we brought food for him to the prison. All of us were worried by father’s fate. We waited by turns at the gates much hours when our food would be taken. Products and cloth were examined carefully by officers from ChK, but we could bring cigarettes and notes, written by small handwriting in broad seams of cloth.

The camera was in semi-basement and its window was in the street partly. Our father was in that camera. There was a sentry with a gun there but we could come to the window when a sentry walked to another side. We could not see our father but we could hear his voice and speak to him quickly. There was one more prisoner Shakhobiddin-ishan, son of the famous Sufi Master in father’s camera. He was here because he tried to go the Turkish border illegally somewhere in Caucasus. As soon as I came running to window, I heard his sonorous voice. One day he has said: "Blind only once loses his crosier".

Only in year I have understood meaning of this proverb. After liberation he has made the successful escape from the country".

From tale of Zarifa Saidnosyrova. 1920th years

* * *

"We have brought the milk with my brother together in the mornings. I was seven years that time. We went past institutions to the poor persons came and waited for their openings. One day I have seen, as policemen and the other people without the form collected by hooks the deceased from chill, but can be, and from hunger. As at present I see one of them: quite young has frozen with opened eyes in the oriental robe having leaned to the wall. The face was light, and hair was light and eyes were light narrow, but hands were compressed. Probably, Kazakh. He was already adult; I heard that it was such terrible hunger in Kazakhstan, when the livestock was taken from people. And people went by foot to Tashkent that authority should help and give bread to them. First of all I have not even understood that he was dead. I cried out so loudly that my brother threw the pail. I don’t even remember how he has brought me home.

I could not regain consciousness at home for a long time.  It is miserable is not that word, which possible name the constricting feeling, which I has felt then, as if I have lost my native. This was a first death, and terrible death, which I saw, terrible since unjust. Why is such young man so solitary and loosed in the stranger city? I do not remember father’s death. I was too little and this man unwept by his relatives is before my eyes.

Pages of the diary book of Mahsudy M. 1920th years

* * *

"It was a last year of the war. People was quite poor. Children came in poor cloth to school, but one boy was quite naked from the 1st form. There was a sewing machine "Zinger" at my mother (exactly due to it, rather then teacher's salary, we have survived in war). Although we ate badly, but we did not starve. Other people ate orach and olicake. We had a cover from suitcase from severe material with marsh colour. Then such covers were put on old suitcases. My mother has sutured cowards from it for naked boy, they were as shorts and nice. Next day on the break she has invited the boy to us, has dressed and has fastened on buttons. It was necessary to see the joy of the little boy! This event was discussed long time, and all envied this boy. Someone has named his "Komsomol", so this name remained for him".

"Finally the Day of the Victory came. We, children, started to run to houses to report that war was ended. "War was ended, your son (brother, husband) would arrive soon. Give a gift". People cried, patted us on the back, gave us food for instance, corn small cake. Only once we were stunned. At the end we have solved to run to house of the chairman of the collective farm although it was far. Mother of the chairman, the old woman came up to us, keeping a whole white small cake in her hands, she has broken it and has distributed us. We were so shocked with the condition of this small cake, what we did not see much years that we have not immediately stretched the hands. I have taken its piece and carried its to my mother".

From tale of Gulinara Gafurova. 1940th years

* * *

"We were given to ourselves: played, went to the cinema, learned as all. One day beside someone have nearly wrested from my hands our tickets and has put me the money before cinema. So we have found the source of the money: bought before tickets session and resold them with markup, and these money spent on sweetness. Boys from our company visited wounded, which were treated in Tashkent hospital. We prepared the concerts for them; I always sang song "Dark night" for them. One day someone came up behind me, has compressed my shoulder and became to sing along with me. This was Mark Bernes already very known then ".

From tale of Rafoat Kuchlikova. 1940th years

* * *

"Writing of new boys for the 1st form was in summer. We go with mother to every house and write children.

- How old is a child?

Keeps quiet.

- Has his teeth been fallen out?

- Yes.

This was a criterion: if the teeth has fallen out it means that it is possible to write for the 1st form.

- What is a name of the child? - Surname was written by father’s name.

Mother keeps quiet, she has no right to say the name of her husband. It is a taboo husband’s name for young women. If there is someone else he names, but if there are not the other members of family at home. Neighbour is called and he says the name of child’s father. Mother makes the conversation that it is necessary to wash, dress in net the child that it is impossible to come to school in his present appearance. The young woman having after first-born child else several children, tired by housekeeping perceives it as one more heavy cargo, it is necessary to teach children and she silently nods the head".

From tale Gulinara Gafurova. 1950th years

* * *

"Father wanted that all of us would learn; I have entered in polytechnic institute, worked hard and interest in the geological faculty. In summer holidays I have been married, I was proposed as a wife and have done the wedding quickly. So my parents have solved since my sisters grew after me. It was necessary that I should be married soon and I should have a strong family. Only in this case my sisters could be proposed as a wife for boys from good families. In one year I gave birth to my child. I managed and with studies, and with my child. Only after my sisters were married I was divorced. At that time I have already worked and could pretend on reception of the apartment".

From tale of Mukhtabar Akhmedova. 1960th years

* * *

"We learnt in the Russian school and spoke Russian each other. We only spoke Karakalpak in every day life and with our mother. At that time children of intellectuals have already spoke Russian, but if someone spoke Karakalpak in this case everybody looked at him with surprise or asked: if he has arrived from the village."

From tale of Zulifiya Shomuratova. 1960th years

* * *

"We returned (from East Turkestan - ed.) here because here is our native land, all native. But our life was difficult. We have reached that, what we expected with a much hard. Atmosphere was different here and there. And intellect of the people, their lifestyle, and culture of the communication were absolutely different. Particularly I have distressed very much that people became hypocritical: they speak not what they think. But we were people simple and trustful and wondered, as people can speak the untruth. I cannot forget one event. When I have only begun to work it was necessary to do the inoculation and Rakhim-àêà, the main doctor of the polyclinic taken me to work, has said: "It is necessary to do inoculations to 240 inhabitants. Daughter, help me". I agreed and did inoculations to inhabitants for three days. But physician of the infectious cabinet has not believed: it could not be that you have done inoculations to inhabitants for three days. We shall check and speak. And she has checked all 240 persons.

As I have known later, they did inoculations for so many persons for one month. Each day it was reported for 10-15 ones. Afterwards the main doctor has said to me: "Well, you have done so it has been done. Other people will do it whole month. But you write on 15 per day in report, too". I was stunned: it was possible to do it for three days and write in the same way. One day when district doctor has left on call, I also went with her. One day the main doctor has invited me and said: "Are you so simple-hearted? Why do you need all these calls? Say that you are busy and do you own work. Or go to call and go home to your children". But I could not tell lies. Everybody told lies around me, and every time I felt awkwardness because of it. And I was said: "Here, in Tashkent, you will be taught by it very soon". No. Till to pension I have not been able to it, and that is all".

From tale of Muborak Gafarova. 1960th years

* * *

"Capital investments in the republic in the 60th years have been allowed to master the Hungry steppe and subsoil of gold, to lay gas pipelines. Everybody felt an economic growth through growth of the individual incomes, and all it has been linked with the personal work of Rashidov. He was in zenith of the glory by the 70th years. Glory has disturbed him to realize that it began the new complex stage of the development of the republic, when comes short water and the land, falls the fertility of our oasis, and it is necessary to think about intensification of the production. There were promises from high tribunes about increasing of the rate of growth of cotton industry instead of it.

There were many officials around Rashidov. They managed all machinations and "rates and amounts" of stocking of cotton in the necessary direction. There was not cotton, but the plan was made as on fairy-tale. The gaping holes in economy were closed because of the single deductions of the union government and because of the renewing circulating assets of the Ministry of Cotton from the budget of the republic. Many millions possibilities for enrichment and payment for "service in codicil" were appeared because of the fictitious documents on collection and delivery of the cotton and because of the conferring finance got for collection of the cotton by town population, students and schoolboys, which labour was not paid".

From prison notebooks of Rano Abdullaeva. 1980th years

* * *

"Let speak about our slogan "Without past is not future". It works and for them, who want the development of their country and for them, who want to sink the country in the past. The great past are great scientists for ones. All what kept us in ignorance, in fear, constrained our mind are for others. Today living people live in society created in the XX th century. So it is our past and we must not forget about it. We lived in European culture in the XX th century and it is possible to consider to be participial to it. To forget about it is dangerous for youth. Modern education is key to future; what it will be such it will be a new generation. In XX age we veins in European culture, and us possible to consider to be participial to her. Not to remember this - dangerously Corruption in education is a way downwards".

From tale of Shakhnoza Ganieva. 2000th years

* * *

"Father was died in 2003. I arrived in Tashkent only for several days. It was a difficult time. It seemed to me that life was slow in Tashkent not only in contrast with Moscow, but also in contrast with 90th years. The city was cleaned and looked after in central regions, but there were broken roads, dirty places and some desolation in far regions where my family lived. It seemed to me that there were few people in the city. My mother said that they were in the market. Really, it was empty in the city centre even in the evenings. There were small groups of youth near in suspicious places, where there were night bars. It seemed to me that Tashkent like provincial city. The shop windows, posters in the street, old modes, slow temp and poor of the street life were reminded the Soviet time. Only supermarkets showed that the city lived in the new century. However, absence of the goods variety in contrast with Moscow and even with Voronezsh or Chelyabinsk (where I often were in business trip) is noticed.

But I enjoyed the life in Tashkent, relaxed by the soul. There was home meal, evening cool of the watered courtyard, dream under the opened sky, own garden and fruit. I looked at my old mother with regret. At that time I wanted to come back probably, I could find some job, even not such, what I have, but it can be find something with my experience. But when I have remembered how JV became poor where I worked, so I did not to return.

Every day guests came or I was called. All of my natives were interested, if I liked Moscow, it was impossible to help their children to be there, complained on life and asked, when this all would end. They said: "And you remember, at the Soviet time was…" – as they did not understand that past has gone forever…"

From tale of Hamida Ishanova. 2000th years

* * *

"I work whole my life and think, why I do not have my apartment. I have already worked 27 years and why did I not create the condition for myself till this time? My colleagues-men have and houses, and cottages though they worked at the same job positions as me. Now they have main managing job positions.

I always wanted to create the family and more-less reasonable conditions for life, to have my own house at least and deal with that what I love. To listen to the beautiful music, to read books, to communicate with interesting people, but, to my shame, I have nothing from all of it now.  And there is no prospect that someday I can earn all of it by my labour".

From tale of Zulifiya Shomuratova. 2000th years