malekhat-bukuliyevaMalekhat Bukuliyeva was born in 1933 in the village of Veduchi. She was deported to Southern Kazakhstan and later taken from there to Uzbekistan.

“We were five in our family. I was the eldest. On the night of February 22-23, 1944, our village was flooded with the soldiers. Everyone was frightened and shocked at what was happening.

“Our father was visiting his relatives in Zakan-Yurt that night. We later found out that he was deported from there to Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He died there without us ever meeting again. The following morning we were ordered to gather beside the village soviet (council). All that our family could take was what I could carry on my back. My brothers and sisters were all younger than myself and our mother was carrying a baby in her arms.

“That year an epidemic of typhus swept through the settlements and my mother died along with three others from our family.

“My six-year-old sister and I became orphans. Initially we were sent to one of the Tashkent city children’s homes. But later they separated us; my sister, as a minor, was sent to a pre-school children’s home and they sent me to the Ferganskaya region. Some time later, my mother’s sister found me and took me to where she was living in Turkistan. Before going, we went back to Tashkent in the hope of finding my sister. In the Tashkent children’s home, where they had separated us, we found a record in the registry that Valya was on the roster of children there. Accompanied by a tutor we checked all the buildings but failed to find her anywhere. Then someone suggested we should check the death-registry book. There we found the last record made about my sister: 25 children, my sister amongst them, had died of measles. An elderly Uzbek man who was pushing a bread cart for the children in the home saw me crying and came over to me. He found out who I was crying for and he told me that he had buried my sister properly according to Muslim tradition.

“We went through many things in those years. Can words ever convey everything?”