Zhanna Chalabayeva
Red Indian Sun

Red Indian Sun
Zhanna Chalabayeva

First-hand experience of a Kazakh girl who lived in India. The book is about culture, traditions, and life in India.

Chapter I


One day, Richard Gere said: “People, you can’t hide from your poison. It exists, and it will find you, so, as my friend’s mother said: ‘If I knew that my life would end this way, I would live it to the fullest, enjoying everything I was told not to do!’ None of us get out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself as something secondary. Eat delicious food. Walk in the sun. Jump into the ocean. Share the precious truth that is in your heart. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There is simply no time for the rest.”

Every person has one life. And everyone lives it in their own way. Someone lives up to a plan, and someone lives a silly, strange, but interesting life, by his own code.

We never know what fate is preparing for us. This expression has acquired a new meaning for me when one day, unexpectedly for myself, I entered into a correspondence with a stranger from India, whom I later married.

Before the acquaintance with my future Indian husband, I was not interested in India, but since childhood, I have been a fan of the work of the famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. My parents loved to read books. Almost all the cabinets in the house were crammed with books by various writers. We had the several works of Tagore. As this great Indian poet, I loved to buy bouquets of fresh flowers and put them on the table, then to drink coffee in a beautiful setting from good service and on a beautiful tablecloth. It made my life happier. As Rabindranath Tagore used to say: “Of course, I could live without flowers, but they help me maintain respect for myself because they prove that I am not constrained by everyday concerns. They are evidence of my freedom.”

* * *

Before India I worked for an international human rights organization.

I loved my comfortable life and my interesting job. Every day I went to a colony or prison and worked with convicts. From there I went to my office and studied the appeals of convicts, making for them appeals, petitions, and complaints.

In the mornings, pensioners, women usually came to me with their disabled children, to whom I gave my company car so that it was easier for them to go to hospitals. I sought for them free examinations and treatment in good clinics.

One day a woman came to me with her child. She asked me to help her with the examination and treatment for the child. I paged thresholds of various instances and institutions, bored with letters to health officials. In the end, we managed to send her and her child for free examination and treatment abroad. I subsequently had a lot of such cases, and for everyone, I tried my best, regardless of their nationality or religion.

American employees regularly visited our office to check our activities, because our organization was sponsored from the US budget.

One day, when I was sitting in my office in the winter, my boss approached me and said that one recidivist in prison required a meeting with me. The next day I went to the city prison.

I usually went to correctional colonies, where the persons sentenced were serving their sentences. This time I had to go to the prison, where there were persons for whom they had not yet been sentenced, or who were waiting to be sent to a colony. Everything here breathed uncertainty, gloomy and hopeless longing. Prisoners dressed in black robes, behind the fence of the checkpoint, inside the prison yard, did their fatigue duties. There was a grim longing for freedom in the air. I passed a checkpoint, then a yard, another checkpoint, another yard and entered the prison building.

It was damp and smelled like mold.

I was asked to go to the prison warden’s office.

A gray-haired man with a stern face and clear eyes sat in the office.

– The person who wants to see you is an old recidivist, a wolf who brought a lot of grief to people. Why are you defending him?

– I do not defend him, but his rights. If his rights have been violated, then we must correct the error.

They provided me with two security guards with the Kalashnikov gun, and we went to the recidivist. A Russian grandfather of about 60 years old was sitting on a chair, his face was arrogant, his faded eyes were sly, and his hands resembled sled-hammers.

– Hello. You said that you wanted to meet with me to discuss your criminal case; – I said and then called my name and surname.

– Surely you are not the Jana, are you? – The recidivist laughed. – You are very popular here. Our guys in prison told me so much about you that you helped a lot to many people, I thought that there such an adult wolf would come, but you look like a kind angel.

– I can leave if you no longer need my help, – I said, shrugging my shoulders.

– No, let me tell you what kind of help I need.

– Tell me what you need.

The grandfather talked for two hours, I wrote down for him, asked questions, then he said:

– Girl, I don’t know why, but I believe you. I think you really will help me. I am an old man who reads people like books. You are a pure soul.

I asked him to show me all the documents of his case.

– Bring my documents from my cell, – he asked the prison guard. When they brought the documents, we examined them together and discussed each piece of paper.

Then he turned to me.

– I will give you all the original documents of my case, I believe you, help me.

– I do not promise, but I will try my best.

At that, we parted.

Next week, after studying his case, I wrote requests to various authorities, prepared complaints. When the preparation for appealing the verdict came to an end, I went to the Supreme Court.

The reception in the Supreme Court lasted as usual; I explained the essence of the case, showed all my papers, the answers received to my inquiries from various institutions, the complaint, and other documents.

After some time, the answer came from the Supreme Court that the Supreme Court had considered my complaint and agreed with my arguments and therefore sends the case of my client for review at the first instance, that is, to the city court. In the definition of a Supreme judge, it was written that the person was subject to total justification, and arguments were listed, including those that I stated in my complaint.

After some time, the court of the first instance was held. As a result, the recidivist was acquitted of all the articles on the case, for which he had already served three years and which was reviewed several times before me with the participation of eminent lawyers.

No one, except the most mistakenly convicted person, is interested in his release. The state, by and large, does not care who exactly to punish for the crime committed. The truth is interesting only to one person – to the one who is undeservedly deprived of freedom. To catch a real criminal, to prove his guilt is a costly affair for the authorities.

For this, there are human rights organizations. Human rights defenders are those screws in the judicial system, which, indirectly, by the very fact of their existence and response to human rights violations, force investigators to look for the real culprit. Therefore, as long as we, human rights activists, caring citizens, movements, organizations, will remain indifferent, the government will be forced to perform its protective functions. In itself, it will not do anything, because it does not contain any guarantees.

One day early in the morning my phone rang at my house. I picked up the phone and heard the voice of the same grandfather-recidivist:

– Jana, I’m home, I was released from prison, thank you very much.

Three years later, at the age of 63, he passed away. His friends called me and said that he blessed me before his death.

* * *

India… An unknown, all-knowing force controls events and people. In India, everything is not going the way you wanted or planned. India knows what you have in your soul and even more than you know about yourself. Wise India knows what to give and what to take. India calls a person when his spiritual world needs to change. I do not know why it is India that has mystical power, why not any other country. On the Internet, you will find many reviews of travelers who have visited India. The most interesting thing is that all the reviews are different and seem to describe completely different countries, but all of them are true. Everyone has his own India.

On the territory of modern India, there lived many different nations, empires, and principalities, which time took to oblivion.

Each state had its own characteristics, customs, and habits. Each era has brought its own changes. Much has changed with the arrival of the European invaders. Therefore, India is such a different and interesting country.

Once I received a message from a stranger of Indian origin who worked in Saudi Arabia under a contract as a welder. For some unknown reason, I responded to his letter, and we began to correspond. He was ugly and had no virtues that would make me fall in love with him. Our strange correspondence continued by reason of his intrusiveness.

We had a big age difference – almost ten years. The young man was free and had the most dishonest views of life.