Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The president's first love

The Russian newspaper Argumenty i fakty reports in the article "To turn down a president: First love is never forgotten" about the first love of Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

In 1994, Nazarbayev paid a visit to the city Dneprodzerzhinsk in Ukraine. He came by the vocational training school Nr. 8, where he in the late 1950's, in the dawn of his youth, had studied to become a furnace-worker, and met with teachers and old class mates. Surprisingly, he declared: "In your city, I helped two friends get married. But I myself failed. Here, I felt my first love."

Lyudmila Ivanovna Kalnysh, a former classmate of the president, heard this confession on the radio. She had not dared go watch the Kazakh president's visit, because she was afraid that she might faint if she saw Nursultan.

Back in their school days, Nuri had noticed Lyudmila in the gym hall, where he wrestled in one end of the hall and she did rhythmic gymnastics in the other end of the hall.
At some point Lyuda felt the gaze of burning black eyes in her back. She already knew that Nursultan was a straight-A student and the komsorg (komsomol organizer) of the class.
"I remember how the girls and I were sitting in the assembly hall at some boring meeting", Lyudmila Ivanovna tells AiF. "We didn't listen to the speeches. And suddenly Nursultan climbs on the platform. It astonished me how wonderfully he spoke. His words poured out beautifully, freely, without any 'er' or 'well'. And soon, after a gym class, he was waiting for me at the exit. I got nervous and dashed off through another exit on the other side of the building, and ran into the doorway of some unknown house. And there was Nuri: 'But that's not your house!' - 'How do you know?' - 'I know. Come on, let me take you home. It's dark outside - someone might insult you.'"

But then she fell ill, and had to stay at the hospital to have her pneumonia treated. When she was finally able to get up from her bed, she glanced at the street through the window. And there was Nursultan, looking up at the hospital windows. Lyuda hid behind the curtain. An older lady in the bed next to hers smiled at her: "Don't be shy! I can see all the way from here that he's a good young man."

Once Lyuda got out of the hospital, they danced tango for the first time:
"Nuri was so careful with me. He didn't try to press himself against me like other guys. With him I felt calm and like I could trust him."
Afterwards they traded photos with each other. And at some point it was time for him to meet Lyudmila's mother.
"He was terribly nervous, it took him forever to take his shoes off in the hallway. Nursultan plucked at the tablecloth, it seemed he wanted to say something important. But what? After a few days it became clear, when a good friend of mine came to me and whispered in my ear: 'Nursultan sends me. He asks if you'd like to marry him, if you'd like to come with him to Kazakhstan. He is waiting for your answer.'"
But what about my studies?, Lyuda thought.
"I enrolled at the school later than Nursultan, I still had one year left. Besides, with my 19 years I didn't think seriously about boys. I wasn't ready for close relationships. Mum and I lived like two nuns. My father had left us when I was four years old. Mum never married again."
So Lyuda said no. Still, Nuri didn't lose hope, and kept writing to her from Kazakhstan. And Lyuda went through the heavy school of life:
"I graduated from the school as a seamstress. I was assigned to the best dressmaking establishment of the city, but the director hated me for some reason. She kept insulting me in front of the whole brigade. I was constantly running to the toilet in tears. This woman had an effect on me like a boa constrictor on a rabbit."
One day, a young liutenant proposed to her on the street with the words "Marry me, I'll take you away from here!" Those words worked on Lyuda like magic, and there she was with him at the registry office, thinking that they actually hadn't even kissed yet. "That was terrible stupidity", Lyuda says today, looking back.

The young couple moved to the Astrakhan region, where he served. The fresh husband turned out to be a brawler and a scandalist who didn't mind raising his fists against his wife. Lyuda endured for five years, and then she took her little daughter and son and moved back home. She was now 25 years old, her self-esteem completely shattered.
"Somehow, one day as I was cleaning up at home, I found an old suitcase. Inside it I discovered Nuri's letters. I sat down and read them all, tears running down my face. I understood that this was my love. But instead of the pain of loss, happiness came to me. The little seed that Nursultan had sowed in my soul grew into a flower."
Lyuda's self esteem gradually returned, she went to the hairdresser and got new, nice clothes, and walked with her back straight again.
"But I didn't write to Nursultan. I thought I wasn't worthy of him. I prayed to god that he would find a woman who was better than I. I was happy enough with his letters having brought me back to life."
Lyuda found the strength to pursue something she had long been dreaming of - to get a second education as a medical nurse.

For almost twenty years she knew nothing of Nursultan's fate. And then, suddenly, she met his portrait in the newspaper, where it said that Nazarbayev had become first secretary of the central committee of the Communist party of Kazakhstan. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Nursultan Abishevich was elected president of the republic, and in 1994 he paid a visit to Dneprodzerzhinsk.

When Lyudmila Ivanovna heard his love confession on the radio, she finally decided to write him. She didn't know the address, so she just wrote
The President
About a month later, early in the morning, the phone rang. She immediately recognised his voice. The president asked: "So, with whom do you live?" - "With my daughter and my grandson!" - "Just the three of you?" - "Just the three of us."
Actually, Lyudmila was married. But it was a marriage of mutual respect, not love. "My husband was not in my heart." And on that day, she left her second husband. "I couldn't betray Nursultan, could I?" ...

Soon, Nursultan paid another visit to Dneprodzerzhinsk. Trusted men came to pick up Lyudmila Ivanovna and bring her to a celebratory dinner party. "We had five minutes to speak alone. And I said the most important thing - that his love had not been unanswered. The feeling that Nursultan is somewhere in the world has helped me cope with life to this very day."

Only once she turned to him for help. Her grandson stood before a complicated and expensive kidney operation, and Lyudmila did not have enough money to pay for it. She sent a telegram to Nazarbayev. And the hospital bills were quickly settled.

1 comment:

Rozmin said...

Crazy! Sounds like right out of a Soviet movie-->(