zalpato-akuyevaZalpato Akuyeva was born in Grozny in 1939. She was deported from the village of Dachu-Barzoy to the settlement of Selo Sadovoy in the Northern Kazakhstan.

“We were living in the village of Dachu-Barzoy. We had three sisters, I was the one in the middle. I was only five years old and I vaguely remember how it all happened. However, I can’t forget that soldiers came into our house, they were talking with my father. Then our father told us that the ones who came were the “good” ones, as comparing those who broke into the neighbour’s house. They gave a permission to take only some food and warm clothes as we are being evicted into a very cold place. My father packed something and took us outside where all the villagers were gathered. Our mother was not with us, she was at a family visit in Samashki. In this age, I wasn’t able to understand what is going on exactly, however, I knew that somethin terrible is happening.

“I remember when we were taken into a cold carriage, we were kept in it a very long time. Initially, the carriage was so overloaded that there wasn’t even a place to lay our legs. In two weeks, so many people died of cold, disease and hunger.

“They took us into Leninogorsk in the Northern Kazakhstan which was the coldest place. My father and us -three small daughters- were given in one of the barracks.

“Our father was a man of great physical strength, he was doing any hard word. There was no mother to feed us. In the spring, he cleared a small plot of land and sowed it with potatoes. This small garden saved many from the starvation. It seemed that everything was getting better slowly, but in an instant everything changed once again. A false charge was put on our father. Father was taken away and we have identified as orphanage and taken into an institute. Most of my “gray” childhood memories associated with this institution. There have been many Chechen children, but even homeless. They called us here as Zoe, Zina and Anya instead of our real names Zalpa, Zalpato and Ayna. We could stay there until grown up, but, fortunately we were found by our mother and grandmother in 1947. They took us with themselves to the settlement of Taldykorgan. But two years later our mom passed away. But in 1952, our father could came back from the labour camp. In the same year, our paternal uncle found us. After that, untill 1961, before we returned to homeland, we were all together.

“In spite of everything that was wrong, I remember the faces of the locals who saw us as not enemies, but the same people as they are, just maligned power – barefoot, half-naked, starving and half-dead from the cold. What was the danger we could pose to the Soviet regime? As I remember, many of the locals a very kind and decent people. Of course, there were exceptions, but most of them who had clothes or meals helped us. Outright hostility towards themselves we have not met, despite all the propaganda power of the Soviet power. After all, the common people have nothing to share – what then that today.

“But we survived. For this I am pleased to the Almighty.”