This picture was one that surprised me when I saw it in the US. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.
If you look at the photo below, look at the girl to the farthest right. Her name is Riskul, she was my 6th Former , Class 6B, student at the Karatau Lyceum when I took this photo in 1997. Riskul never smiles well at least when I am around. She seemed like a serious student though her she struggled with her English. I enjoyed having her as a student.
She would be one of the people that ended up affecting my young early life. When I returned from my summer trip to the US in August, 1998, I headed back to Karatau from Almaty. When I arrived I heard there was an accident. The now 7th Formers classroom teacher wanted me to come with her and some students to a funeral. That was when I learned Riskul had died earlier that week.
The walk, oddly enough, to the funeral was very cheerful. We all joked, we had no idea what we were about to experience. As we got closer to the house where Riskul’s body lay, we could feel the sorrow in the air. Several of the women were wailing. It was nothing I had experienced before. I entered the room where Riskul laid, she was wrapped in a Kazakh rug. People were all around her body, I remember time seemed to stop. The wailing and crying almost made me cry. When I saw Riskul I was so shocked, her face was so white.
I walked out, the cheerful students were no longer cheerful, some of my students were still crying. We walked back. My memory of Riskul was that white face I saw at her funeral.
When I saw this picture again in the US, I started to smile. Now I can remember Riskul smiling. She is one of the few students I sometimes think about even to this day.