ALMATY – Sultan Zhienbayev (93) and Nuraniya Adelshina (92), one of Kazakhstan’s oldest couples, got hitched 70 years ago (“seems like seven days,” Sultan says) and are still crazy in love.
This week they celebrated their wedding anniversary and were interviewed by the Eurasian nation’s Kazakhstanksaya Pravda newspaper.
According to the daily, the couple was married on Jan. 17, 1945, when Zhienbayev was a young man returning from the front, where he fought in fierce battles near Rzhev as commander of an anti-armor company during the Great Patriotic War – a term Russia and other former Soviet republics use to describe WWII’s eastern front.
When he met his future wife, Zhienbayev was a private inspector in the Turksib railway and Adelshina a state arbitrator assigned to resolve an economic dispute with the railroad workers.
Thus began a long sentimental journey for the war veteran and his new-found soul mate, they told the daily.
“Seventy years passed like seven years,” Adelshina said.
“No, like seven days,” Zhienbayev tenderly corrected his wife.
“For more than seventy years we have had everything, but the main thing is that we overcame together all the difficulties,” the couple was quoted as saying.
Zhienbayev later worked as a department head and then Minister of the Kazakh SSR Ministry of Commerce and Deputy Chairman of the Kazakh SSR Council of Ministers.
Among his many awards, the veteran particularly appreciates the title of honorary citizen of Almaty; Kazakhstan’s former capital, and honorable railway man, the daily said.
Looking back on their long journey together, Zhienbayev recalls warmly that Adelshina always treated his family, friends and acquaintances with great kindness, for which he said he was eternally grateful.
A good hostess, caring mother and wife, she always found time and attention for everyone. Zhienbayev told the Pravda that he was sure that he achieved great success in his career thanks to the support of his wife.
“The greatest wealth for me is the respect of the people. I lived my life honestly and I am proud of it,” Zhienbayev said.
Among their many well-wishers, their favorite was the congratulations that atashka (a tender Russified version of the Kazakh word “ata,” which means grandfather) and azheka (or “azhe,” which means grandmother) received from their five grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.