N 4-5, 10.07.2001
From the editor: This material by Farida Zinnatullina is very emotional. Perhaps she's wrong about some things. Even if so, it's a sincere misunderstanding. This is a cry from the bottom of the heart.
WE, TATARS, DON'T CARE IF IT IS WAR OR MERRY-MAKING
Ayerolganno ayu ashar
(A Tatar proverb: The separated will be eaten by a bear, the isolated will be eaten by a wolf)
In my childhood, when I was reading or listening to fairy tales, I always wanted to get into the magic world. An evil sorcerer takes away from people their memory, their mind, makes their hearts deaf and dumb; he's destroying everything living and beautiful, and here... comes a strong and beautiful fairy and the struggle starts! The fairy has an assistant. For what? Because the people don't see the fairy, they don't feel her and to wake up their hearts a human being is needed, a strong and kind man. It seemed to me that it could be me.
My boundless imagination supplied me with a great number of situations. Some time later the situation came up again, only the heroes altered: the evil sorcerer was Iblis, the fairy was Allah, but I remained myself.
Who might think that the fairy tales would become true soon? Everything started in Samara. As in a fairy tale, for 7 years I've been adapting, studying the people. For 7 years I couldn't understand why the others thought me to be inferior and stupid. I knew I was different from the others, but I also knew that I was absolutely sane – both spiritually and physically.
And then I understood: I was among the bewitched people, they don't recognize anything except money and fame, image and power; a person working in the name of Allah, for good, just so, was a person most stupid and inferior. “Ah, oh!” – they admire the one who got rich with the help of violence and robbery. “A talent,” – they would say about the one that is making a fast career. “Bravo!” – they cry to the one who's changing women and breaking hearts... That's it!
Rich mothers and fathers come to the only Tatar school of Samara “Yaktolok” (Light) bringing their pampered children. 'Put “5” to this one,'– say the authorities in a premptory tone. “This one should get “4” and this one “3”, and that one doesn't belong here”. The children cried in vain, they didn't want to leave their friends.
I was the first not to obey them, but... I was deprived of the Russian language classes for that. It was in 1997.
I saw children growing up in the amosphere of nepotism. The parents would come up to me and say “You're a Tatar, will it cost you anything? Put a good mark, he didn't do well, so what? We live in a Russian city, they won't need Tatar language anyway.”
That's it! Samara is a Russian city. And they won't need Tatar! The main idea is to get good marks.
For four years I've been trying to wake up the hearts of the children and of their parents, I did manage to do it with some of them – they supported me when they tried to “take measures” towards me.
That's the way! There are many problems in Samara. They need their native language only in the case if it helps them to get rich and famous. A simple human, friendly attitude in such an atmosphere is like a rose in the desert, its future is known in advance – it will die. Tatars have fun, live their dull life and they need nothing else, they are satisfied. A big deal, the Tatar department in the College of Sociology and History got closed, and the comparable typology of the Tatar and Russian languages is taught by an ordinary village girl in the Teachers College, who doesn't know well even the literary Russian language and its grammar, when the course should be taught by a professional linguist with a high scientific rank (a candidate of sciences at least). But we don't have such people and the Tatars don't care about it.
The ones, who are not indifferent, are being successfully strangled with hands, tails and evil tongues of the same Tatars.
“Let them go to hell!” – I say angrily, – “these Tatars should be blown up with an atomic bomb.” “Randjeme uz milletenge, randjeme! (Don't take offence at your people!)” – tries to calm me down Fauzia Bairamova. “Not everyone is like them, kozom. We work for the memory of Tukai, Mardjani, Kul Gali. Our ancestors, Bulgars, Kipchaks, Khazars created a unique culture, set up beautiful family and international relations. They were intelligent, simple and kind people. We live and continue their deeds, we live to create, to keep the good, doing what Allah tells us.” And I go on clenching my teeth.
June, 20. An interregional scientific and practic conference called “The Cultural Integrity and the Tolerance of the Volga Region Ethnic Groups in the Modern Civilized Space” takes place in the building of the Samara Institute of Raising the Qualification of the Educational Workers.
The administration of the Samara region, the Institute of Philological Education, the faculty of psychology of the Samara State Pedagogical University (SSPU), The Research Institute “The Languages and the Culture of the Peoples of the Volga region” of the SSPU and many other organizations supported the conference.
They had invited linguists, archaeîlogists, ethnographers, politicians from different regions: Kazan, Penza, Cheboksary, Saransk, Moscow, Ulyanovsk, Izhevsk, Samara. Only the scientists from Kazan didn't come.
The director of the SSPU Vershinin, the deputy governor of the Samara region S.N.Saveliev, a guest from Moscow, the representative of the Ministry of National Affairs, V.V.Morozov took the floor to greet the audience.
Saveliev and Vershinin reported with pleasure that there were 50 ethnic minorities centres, they were all funded by the regional and the city budget; ethnical feasts were widely celebrated, the Samara region was an example of tolerance, there were no any interethnical or interconfessional conflicts; in short, we live happily. No problems at all!
“Sure – I think – Tatars are satisfied that they have enough money and the rest, anything that concerns their native language, the developement of the nation, it's all nonsense. They don't need Tatar language, do they?”
The guest from Moscow takes the floor: “The “National Revival” programme is being realized in the regions,” – he says enthusiastically. “We have celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Chuvash Republic. It is a pleasure to see how Cossacks are developing. We attract all our scientific potential to solve their problems. The idea of saving the ethnic integrity is the best theme.”
“What makes us worry is the Chechen problem. The outburst in the Northern Caucasus shows us that if the ethnical problems aren't solved, there will be no way out of the crisis. Russia should be kept as it is. A plan of saving the territorial integrity has been developed.”
“The migration of other peoples – Tatars, Kazakhs – is a covert intervention. According to the constitution of the Russian Federation, the land belongs to the ethnic group that dominates in number.”
“Aha,” – I think. “If there are more Tatars in Samara region, then Samara region will be a Tatar land. Yes, the Russians have made it up very well, the Russians dominated in number everywhere. That's why they have passed a law like that. And what if the Tatars in Tatarstan lose their national identity, write “Russian” in their passports, forget their language and the culture?”
Meanwhile Morozov continued: “We have presented a law to the Gosudarstvennaya Duma (Russian Parliament) and we hope that it will be accepted: according to it the migrants won't be provided with work and accomodations , only the specialists on a contract will be an exception.”
I was sitting stupefied. Morozov went on: “The growth of Islam brings secret problems, wahhabism, for example. Wahhabism is...” At this moment his look fell upon me. I was sitting in white Muslim clothes, embroidened in beads, in Tatar ornament, I was sitting full of anger and offence.
Having seen a Muslim woman, he quickly shifted to another theme:
“Tatars should be grateful. Namely thanks to the Russian language they became more intelligent, got accustomed to the achievements of the civilization, came out of the dark ignorance.”
I took the floor too. Full of offence and anger, but still self-confidently and calmly I told them all about our history, about the fact that in 10–12 centuries Bulgars (ancestors of Volga Tatars) had sewerage and water-lines, the Bulgar traders could speak different languages. And that all happened without the management of Russians.
The baths were decorated with polished marble and colored stones. Those were big and light baths. And now Tatars wash in “kara moncha” (“black bath”).
What have Tatars learnt? What civilization? Smoking, drinking, living a dissolute life?
Yes, the Tatar villages are notorious for unrestrained drinking. Money and rich people became the centers of attention in the cities.
(To be continued)