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The Voice of Almaty: part 4 — The voice of a Merchant's House.

The voice of a Merchant's House

According to a Chinese proverb importance is in keeping with a learned man. Here I am, neither a learned one, not a man, but I am very important. I have been important more often than not. That’s because my house is the most beautiful, or almost the most beautiful. That's the only one with a dome roof facing two streets - Kurmangazy[1] and Furmanov[2]. It’s modern architecture of early XXth century! The house is not that big, but it had been built for three years by order of Tit Golovizin, an Honorary Freeman of Verniy City and an owner of shoemaking workshops. The Golovizin shoes were excellent, there were boots with buttons and slippers for ladies, all kinds of shoes for children, and spectator shoes for men. There were some offers for militaries as well; of course those boots were not equal to Shuvalov’s ones and did not cost one hundred rubles a pair, but the price of parade boots for officers was twenty rubles and regular boots cost three rubles fifty kopek.

 

And what’s the most interesting is that a ballroom was constructed in the garden near my house. Several times a year merchant Golovizin hosted city balls – one was certainly for the name day of Lord Emperor and others for other festive occasions. Yet the best ball was made for Christmas. In the morning there was Christmas show for children followed by a masquerade ball for adults in the evening. Everybody started preparations for the ball with plenty time in advance, the costumes were made under seal of secrecy, God forbid, nobody should have guessed the ideas. On the Christmas Eve Shemakha Queens and Colombinas, Cinderellas and Undines, Musketeers, Dandies, Harlequins, Postal envelopes and even Eifel Tower were in competition. I remember Lenochka Znamenskaya was the best in 1915, I guess. She appeared in Day-Night costume, tailored of two parts – the hat, the dress, and the gloves – were white silk from the right side and black silk from the left. Furthermore, her right shoe was white and her left shoe was black!

 

After the revolution in 1918 the house was nationalized, a second children's hospital was located there, then it was transformed into a kindergarten – all the best for the children, later it was turned into a commune, and finally the administration of Council of Ministers laid their hands on the house. The leaders of Kazakh Soviet Republic and prominent foreign guests took up residence there. People say in 1955-1956 Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev lived here too, but somehow I do not remember it.

 

What’s interesting is that my house is located almost in the city center but it feels like it is under the dome of time, that’s how calm it is near the house despite the continuous flow of people and cars. There has never been a tram near the house, but if anybody from Almaty wants to tell anyone where to get off he would say politely: Roll away as kazy along Kurmangazy[3].

 

You can also see a fused tree; all nations worship such trees as sacred. Our tree is no exception, but it is true only for those who know about it. Most of the people pass by and have no clue what they miss. Though it is so easy to come, put hands on the trunk in the place of fusion and make a wish. It will certainly come true. The lovers can embrace the tree together and nobody and nothing will be able to do them part.

 

The story on the lovers tree

told by the voice of Golovizin’s house

 

Baytursyn dug a hole in the ground and placed a small, twig of oak with three leaves there. He poured it with water and was about to powder the roots with soil as he was approached by a girl. She held out a pine cone to him, and asked:

- Please put it to the oak.

 

Baytursyn turned a sideway gaze on her; she was a regular thin girl, cotton dress, braided hair. You almost could not see her face – she was  standing against the sun. He replied briefly:

- No, ask somebody else.

 

Along Furmanov Street, the students of boys’ and girls’ schools were planting trees. It was a communist clean-up Saturday for the remarkable date of the first of May. The girl went round Baytursyn and stood on the other side:

- I do not want to ask somebody else. Please.

 

He was about to get rude to make her go away, so he forced the spade in the ground, turned to her and saw her eyes. And lost his heart. The girl’s eyes were clear blue, blue as the sky that Baytursyn loved more than anything else in the world. The sky, where he was flying on a small fighter aircraft in an aero club.

- Put it in here…

 

A year later Baytursyn went to school of military pilots. Tanya was writing letters, he was replying:

- Two years are left…

- I love you…

- One year’s left..

- I love you too…

- Half a year more…

- I love you more…

- No, I love you more…

- I am back in June…

 

Baytursyn returned home as a young confident athletic pilot, who the girls stared at and old people respectfully shook hands with. On the twenty-first of June, they met on the very spot where they saw each other for the first time. The oak got higher and reached out Baytursyn’s chest, a thin pine tree grew by the oak.

- …I love you

- I love you too…

- See you tomorrow.

- See you.

 

Tomorrow was the war….

 

Baitursyn flew a bomber, and something protected his crew in danger. But once the plane was shot down and fell behind the front line, the family received death notices, "Your son ... your husband ... your brother ... died the death of a hero." A week later the pilot and the radioman found the way to their place. They were alive.

 

‘Tanya, Tanya, why do not you answer?’ - he was writing on and on. Finally a neighbor replied: ‘Tanya received the notice and went to the front. We have no field post number’. And there were three years of obscurity.

 

On the twenty first of June in 1946 Baytursyn stood at the trees – the oak and the pine trunks fused together. A gentle rain was dropping; and Baytursyn stroked the trunk and slowly walked to the bus stop.

- I love you - there was a high-pitched voice behind him. This was his Tanya.

Since then, they never parted. Every year Baytursyn and Tanya were going to their tree, and then they brought their children there, then their grandchildren. After that only Tatyana was coming. Then the tree was left alone, but not for a long time.

 

Now Tanya and Baytursyn are coming to the tree again, they are full of hope and fun, they are young as they were many years ago, when they planted an oak twig and a pine cone together. I am the only one who can see them.

And the tree is there, and if before the oak was covering the pine tree with its branches, now the pine tree is protecting the oak. In late autumn, when the leaves fall down, one can easily see the two tree crowns, and the trunk with black oak bark, and its right side, where the pine of honey color is transparent through the rough bark.


[1] Kurmangazy Street is former Eastern part Kargaly road, previously known as Artillery Street until 1957. The artillery of Vernenskiy garrison camped there during their summer exercises. It was regarded as a second class street, which hosted one-floor houses with a farmstead and gardens.

[2] Furmanov Street is previously known as Lepsinskaya Street, it was regarded as a second class street. Civil servants, merchants, manufacturers and officers of Vernenskiy garrison lived there. Currently it is one of the most beautiful streets of the city.

[3] Roll away as kazy along Kurmangazy is equivalent of Russian saying Roll away as sausage along Malaya Spasskaya Street, meaning ‘Get out of here’. This was is explained with a common habit in early 20th century to take a free ride on a tram coupling device (so called ‘sausage’ due to its shape). The other meaning of this saying is a hint at a long sausage tied in a ring, that can roll by itself on a surface.

_____

Elena Klepikova 2013

_____

We have elaborated special virtual tour to travel across the festival map. Currently there are 18 spots to explore and to get familiar with the city. There will be more spots to explore soon.

http://artbat.kz/touren/tour.html

Have nice trip to Almaty!

Artbatfest artbatfest
Международный фестиваль современного искусства ARTBAT FEST проект, объединяющий казахстанских и зарубежных участников различных направлений contemporary art. ARTBAT FEST 2013 пройдет в Алматы с 6 сентября по 6 октября 2013 года.
10 апреля 2013, 16:12
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