Kugultinov’s victorious battle

The People's Poet of Kalmykia. The Laureate of the State Prize of the USSR (1976).

The Hero of Socialist Labour (1990). The author of many poems, among which are "Moabit Prisoner", "Rebel of Reason", philosophical lyrics "Life and Reflections", collections of poems "I'm Your Peer", "Beautiful April" and others.
When they talk about the poetry of David Kugultinov, usually the first epithet is "philosophical". He did not argue with that. "It is philosophical," he nodded seriously with his big head, "since my childhood I've been a great philosopher. I even began to study Marx's Capital straight from the second volume."

He studied in the fifth grade, when he received a valuable gift "for active participation in public life and outstanding labour": a piece of cloth for a shirt and the second volume of "Capital." The naivety of the local authorities can only provoke a smile, but David, who was a solid boy, took the gift seriously and immediately sat down to study the great work.
However, over the years, when Kugultinov's philosophical poetry gained fame the curious gift has acquired a symbolic meaning. Although it was hardly a credit to Marx but to something quite different.
The second case that is worth remembering is as follows. Early in the autumn of 1940, cultural figures from all over the Union gathered to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the epic of Jangar in Elista. David was then 18 years old. Later he would write about himself:
The guy on the faded photograph...
A look that does not know the cares,
Flashed at me out of the mist.
Here I was in the old times,
Careless as the greens grass...
I look and somebody
Pricks my heart with a needle...
Then he made friends with the outstanding Ukrainian poet Mikola Bazhan. 20 years age difference does not matter for poets. And on the 60th anniversary of David, Nikolay Platonovich remembered how one evening they were walking on the outskirts of Elista and a gust of wind brought to their feet dozens of yellow fragile pages covered with ancient writings along with the withered grass and fallen leaves. These were sheets from Uighur, Tibetan, Chinese and Kalmyk books and manuscripts.
What a shameful paradox: the wind brought from the steppe, from the closed datsans thrown out as useless the sheets of ancient works to the city in which the semi-circular anniversary of the great epic was solemnly celebrated! David rushed to collect those sheets. His face flushed with anger and pain. He held them tightly and his gaze was telling everyone: "This is mine; this cannot be taken away from me!"
Perhaps, it was the first time that he – "careless as the greens grass" – experienced the first civil pain and anger. And subsequently he often referred to the history and the folklore of his people in his work. He wrote poems, stories and tales as if he wanted to make up for what was lost and destroyed by the hands of his forgetful tribesmen. Thus, the poet began to mature as a fighter.
Marx was not involved in it at all. It was not for nothing that Chinghiz Aitmatov wrote: "Kugultinov came from afar to his eternal philosophy of existence as from a new world, from the cradle of an ancient Kalmyk worldview – whole and epic, wise and simple-minded..."
However, in his mature years when he, before graduating from the Literary Institute, had graduated  from "the university of the Great Patriotic War" and "the construction academy beyond the Arctic Circle, it was difficult to guess his far from philosophical or "simplehearted" but a truly militant nature, while looking at his leisurely pace of the self-absorbed philosopher. Somehow, one short victorious battle of Kugultinov – a poet and a fighter – was seen by the whole country.
It was in the very beginning of the 90s at the Congress of People's Deputies. The discussion was about how poorly the culture was financed: it turned out to be about 17 kopecks per person. A deputy came out and said that there was nothing to talk about; there were more important things to discuss.
Kugultinov asked for the floor from the audience. Gorbachev invited him to the rostrum. It was then that the audience and millions of TV watchers saw how David Kugultinov could walk. He walked slowly holding his head high as if thinking about something of his own. Finally he came to the rostrum, bent down to the microphone and, referring to the previous speaker, said: "You see, someone did not get even those 17 kopecks!", and slowly went back. That approach could remind something to those who were familiar with the poetry of Kugultinov. The fact is that a great place in his work belongs to the book "Life and Reflections", consisting of a well-developed by him genre of twelve verses: the calm 9-10 lines in the beginning and two or three rapid, revealing the essence and "smashing outright" lines in the end.
In fact, he practiced this poetic form before the deputies and the whole country: he used the first "9-10 lines" as was needed – not slower or faster – and then hit.

Editorial note. David Nikitich considered Kirsan Ilyumzhinov – the first President of the Republic of Kalmykia and the President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) – as his disciple. According to Kugultinov, who knew Ilyumzhinov since childhood, Kirsan Nikolayevich is a brilliantly educated and intelligent pragmatist.
On March 13, David Kugultinov would have turned 95 years old.