Меня зовут Ботагоз. Я из Алматы, Казахстан. Окончила Казахский Университет международных отношений и мировых языков имени Абылай хана по специальности переводчик английского языка. Языки и литературу люблю с детства. Еще с начальных классов в школе писала свои наблюдения в виде коротких рассказов, участвовала в различных школьных литературных конкурсах, была редакторам классных плакатов. На выпускном экзамене в школе дали высокую оценку моему сочинению и повесили его на школьном стенде. Любовь к английскому языку привила школьная учительница по английскому языку Светлана Барлыбековна. Я усердно занималась и уже в 6 классе определилась с выбором будущей профессии. Из зарубежных классиков люблю читать Скотта Фитцджеральда, роман «Великий Гэтсби», Теодора Драйзера, романы «Стоик», «Оплот», Сомерсета Моэма, роман «Луна и грош» и др. Свой первый короткий рассказ я написала на первом курсе в университете под названием «Судьба человека» (Human destiny), однако позже я решила изменить название на более лаконичное название «Стоик» (A stoic). С момента окончания университета работаю переводчиком и преподавателем английского языка в вузе. В свободное время люблю читать издания на английском языке. В дальнейшем хочу продолжить писать короткие рассказы о жизни простых людей с не совсем простыми судьбами.

Let me briefly introduce myself. My name is Botagoz Ussen and I am from Almaty, Kazakstan. I am a translator and a teacher of the English language. I graduated from Kazak Ablai Khan University of World Languages and International Relations, in the faculty of International relations. I specialized in English, Theory and Practice of Translation. Yet at school I was good at languages and was fond of writing short stories in Kazak (my native language) and Russian. My essay at the final examination at school was highly evaluated and placed on the school board.

My interest in English dates back to my years at school. I still vividly remember my teacher of the English language, Svetlana Barlybekovna, who was the first person to introduce me with the English language and encourage me to learn English. I actively participated in a number of school language competitions and was a class editor to issue a poster. After finishing school I had a clear idea of my future profession. I wanted to become a translator of the English language. I have more than 18 years of work experience in translation. Alongside with my translation work I teach English at universities. My ultimate goal has always been to write short stories in English and I wish to continue to write short stories about the lives of simple people with no simple destinies.

A stoic

 She was about 75 when I first met her. She looked good and younger than her real age. Her name was Vera Vasilyevna Snopova. Ms Snopova was of middle height and thinly built. I still remember her pale face and sparkling eyes. She was unbelievably vigorous and had a good memory. She led a healthy lifestyle and kept to a strict regime. She did not eat much and what was amazing was that she did not eat anything after six in the evening. She just drank a glass of warm water before sleep. She said she did it for a good sleep and to keep warm at night. She styled her hair as did many older women of her age, with her hair gathered on top of their head in the form of a ball, which always looked neat. She also had an accurately laid manicure on her fingers. All this spoke to how well she looked after herself. Ms Snopova was an intelligent and pleasant woman. She could speak several foreign languages: English, German and French. She was a sociable and hospitable person too. She had no children and relatives in Kazakstan and had been living all alone. She did not even have a pet. She was a perfect example of the lonely life. Her only cousin Igor living in Australia never visited her in Kazakstan but sometimes sent books in English.

 On one of my visits Ms Snopova presented me a book received from her cousin as a gift, which has a message on its front page ‘To Aunty Vera from Igor’. Whenever I open the book I remember that old kind lady. Ms Snopova lived in a four-storey house in the centre of Almaty two floors down my aunt’s flat. My aunt is a doctor and she looked after Ms Snopova whenever she got ill. Her children also helped Ms Snopova with shopping for food. They got on very well with each other. One day my aunt invited our family to dinner. There I first met Ms Snopova. My aunt advised me to talk to

Ms Snopova and ask her if she could teach me English. She agreed to teach me English with pleasure. At that period of time I was about to finish school and was looking for a teacher of the English language, to help me prepare for the University entrance exams.

 So the next week, having finished my classes at school, I came to Ms Snopova’s home to my first English lesson. It was an early spring. The day was quite warm. She pleasantly welcomed me in. It was a one-room flat with a small kitchen and a bathroom. The room, though looked quite plain, was furnished in a classical style. There were only a few essential items in there: a round table with two big chairs at it, a middle-sized book-shelf full of various books in foreign languages, a low bed in the left corner, an old TV set and a lot of plants throughout the room which freshened it up and gave it a wonderful aspect. You could see the birds sitting both inside and outside the window. Ms Snopova loved feeding them.

 “Have a seat, please,” she asked gently. She was very glad to see me. After a few not very important questions we started the lesson. After the lesson had been over she asked me to join her for a cup of tea with some sweets. I agreed to stay. While enjoying our tea she told me some interesting stories of her life. I was listening to her with great attention because she told the stories with absorbing interest. She told me about her life and how much she loved speaking foreign languages. She also added that knowing languages of other countries gives you an opportunity to learn more about their people, history, culture and ways of life. I always wondered if it was difficult to learn many languages and I asked her, Ms Snopova’s answer was: “It is quite challenging but yet an enjoying activity.” When it was time to leave I thanked her for the tea and for the interesting stories she had told me. She said how important it was sometimes for lonely people of her age to talk to someone.

 Since then I often visited Ms Snopova. I enjoyed every visit to her home. She always had some thrilling stories to tell and each story was unique. On one of my further visits Ms Snopova told me about the hardest periods of her life. She described some astonishing historical events she had had to survive, different from what we used to read in the school history books. She said she had been living in Russia until she was banished to Kazakstan for ten years. She was a young woman of about 25 and was married to an officer who then was unjustly shot dead. After her husband’s death she didn’t remarry. She had been persecuted all her life and been suspected as a spy only because she was a Jew and spoke several foreign languages. Life became unbearable for her. In Kazakstan she did hard work and lived in inhumane conditions. She had to look after domestic animals, sheep and rams, and even lived together with them in the slaughterhouse. She also told me that because she had to look after them every day during those several years she could even recognize each of them and gave them the names.

 One of her other duties was to transfer the dead bodies to the required destination. She had to carry them on the cart to the place where several men were waiting to bury the bodies in the main road. It was done intently so that no one would look for the dead bodies under the road. In case someone decided to look for them, he would have looked for them in the field not in the road. Like many other unfortunate women with broken lives, she had to execute other orders given by the military officials. After ten years of banishment, Ms Snopova remained in Kazakstan the rest of her life.

 While telling me her story Ms Snopova looked very unhappy and I could not find the right words to express my sadness. From the story I understood how difficult her life was and how many innocent people were cruelly dealt with under Stalin’s dictatorship and his massive assassination in 1930-40s. Millions of intelligent and bright young people were unjustly executed and exiled, but only few of them could survive and many broke down. I was surprised by the fact that Ms Snopova, having borne such a hard strike of fortune and so many sufferings, could survive and continue to love life. After all, isn’t it the human being’s greatness, I often asked myself.

 After hearing that bitter story I became even closer to her. Once she asked me to bring a photo of mine. She said she would put it on her TV set and would be looking at it if I, for some reasons, were not be able to come to the lessons any more and just for a good memory. Soon the lessons were over and I did not see Ms Snopova for some time. I had to revise for the coming university entrance exams. I passed my exams successfully and entered the University. I was fully immersed in my studies. Time passed unnoticed. I wanted to share my delight with Ms Snopova and decided to visit her.

 However, when I came to her home I was surprised to find other people living there. I asked them where Ms Snopova was and what happened to her. They regretted to say they did not know any

Ms Snopova. Then I went to my aunt’s home to find out about Ms Snopova since she was the only person who knew her. “Poor old lady,” said my aunt sorrowfully, “she died a few months ago. As we moved to another place we took her with us. We thought that it would be better if Vera Vasilyevna, were living with us. She was feeling well until one day she went out to feed a small cat with milk and fell down. She could not walk after that for a long time. She was not ill and died all of a sudden,” continued my aunt sadly. She also told me a very astonishing story that had happened to Ms Snopova before she moved to a new place with my aunt’s family. Some strangers came up to Ms Snopova’s flat and tried to convince her that they were her distant relatives and thus, reserved the rights to inherit her flat. They showed the police some false documents proving their relation to her. But the story ended happily when my aunt told the police that Ms Snopova had no relatives in Kazakstan and that those people wanted to get her flat by fraud.

 It was winter time when Ms Snopova died. I remember her words when she once said to me “I like winter, the white snow and especially the month of December when we have a New Year holiday.” And, unfortunately, she died in her favourite month of December. I really felt sorry for Ms Snopova, for not being able to ask her more about her life and see her before her death. I could not stay any longer at my aunt’s home and left it with a heavy heart.

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