Decades have passed since the Great Patriotic War and we might believe that there is nothing new to say, but life continues to bring discoveries

Carpet for Marshal

Decades have passed since the Great Patriotic War and we might believe that there is nothing new to say, but life continues to bring discoveries.

Inside the Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum, among the many interesting exhibits, you may notice a handmade Turkmen carpet, bearing the portrait of the Commander of the 1st Belarusian front: Marshal of the Soviet Union Konstantin Rokossovsky. His family donated the carpet to the museum in 1968 and a photo of the rug recently went on show at the Belarusian exhibition in the Turkmen Muse-um of Fine Arts, in Ashgabat.

Woven in 1943, in Turkmenistan, the carpet has its own story. In 1941, a young couple from the village of Aul Soyunaly in Tagtabazar District, Ogulbeke and Agaberdy, married. Ogulbeke was just 20 and working as a teacher in Aul Morchak, studying remotely at the Mari Pedagogical Technical College. Agaberdy and his wife dreamt of studying full time at the Institute but war began and Agaberdy was sent to the Front, just three months after their wedding.

Ogulbeke Orazgeldyeva ran to work in the fields after the school day was done, but still found time to write to her husband, creating poetry for him, late in the evenings: verses she called Enemy, You’ll Re-ceive What’s Due to You!, In Search of You, and Come Back. She wrote of the fascists being punished for their evil towards the Soviet people, and of the belief of her fellow villagers that their husbands, sons and fathers would return.

Residents of Morchak knew that Ogulbeke liked to write poetry and would ask her to read new works. They would copy out the lines which most touched them, keeping them as talismans, to read in the dark hours.

With other women, Ogulbeke collected finances and valuables for the Defence Fund. Residents of Guzyl Goshgun collective farm managed to donate 84kg of silver; a newsreel still exists, showing a beautiful young Turkmen woman in a white scarf, Ogulbeke, handing over the items. 

At the end of 1943, workers in Mary Region collected a range of gifts for soldiers at the Front. Ogulbeke’s contribution was a rug, woven with a portrait of the Marshal of the Soviet Union, K. Ro-kossovsky. Together with other Turkmen women, Ogulbeke went to the Front, to present the rug personally to the glorified commander of the 1st Belarusian Front, with whom her own husband was fighting.

In return, the commander offered to organise a meeting for the woman with her husband. However, Agaberdy was at the most Front-line sector, making it impossible for her to see him. A phone line was arranged though, allowing them to share words of love.

Ogulbeke came back from the Front inspired to write new verses. They poured from her generous soul and sincere heart. Here is: In Search of You.

My fellow countrymen and I readied ourselves for the trip,
The way was to be long 
We had to bring gifts from the Motherland to soldiers.
We go to war with hope of finding you.
Though the Front is far, the spirit of war is everywhere,
Alarm grows - what will be … further
I didn’t know that this path would be so difficult,
But we go forward in hope of finding you.
Week passed after week,
We drove, and walked; my soul flew forward.
The Earth is on fire, it means that we see that land.
We are at war with hope of finding you.
Stale air is saturated with gunpowder;
The soul grieves about the wounded and killed.
Already, forever and ever, we’ll never forget 
The roads that we’ve passed to find you.
I feel, you are here, you are somewhere nearby — Agaberdy! 
Meeting is our reward,
For this, I’ve passed through all obstacles,
With hope in my heart that I’ll find you.
But the fight goes on, and you’re on the battlefield!
Through the fire, we cannot meet,
Your voice has only reached me by portable radio transmitter.
I’m happy. 
You are alive, and I have found you.

Her new poetry was filled with endearment, alarm, pain, and, certainly, love. Ogulbeke took a gramo-phone back to Aul, given to her by Marshal Rokossovsky; it’s still in the village today.

However, within a few months, there was sad news: Agaberdy had been killed. She could remember only the last words he had spoken to her: “Darling, sweetheart! What are you doing in this flaming fur-nace? A bullet may find you. Leave quickly. The war will end and we’ll meet then! Wait for me!

Her heart could not endure without him and, in 1949, the young poetess died.

Even today, her memory is kept by the villagers. In 2005, well-known Turkmen poet Agageldy Allanaza-rov collated her poetry into a book entitled Destiny of a Simple Turkmen Woman. It shows her love for a young man, for her Motherland. She faced her duty and waited for her dear and beloved Agaberdy. 

By Sergey Shichko 

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