“I have not had a single happy day in my life. I have always worked hard, digging in the garden. I am tired.
“Long life is not at all God’s gift for me — but a punishment,” she was quoted as saying.
“Looking back at my unhappy life, I wish I had died when I was young. I worked all my life.
“I did not have time for rest or entertainment. We were either digging the ground, or planting the watermelons.
“When I was working, my days were running one by one. And now, I am not living, I am just dragging through.”
Officials say all her documents were lost during the Second Chechen War from 1999 to 2009.
The pension fund, a state body, claims there are 37 people over 110 years of age in Russia yet all these claims, including Istambulova’s, are impossible to verify because of the lack of reliable birth or early childhood written records.
Most live, like Istambulova, in the Caucasus which has a history of longevity among its peoples.
Her 129th birthday is upcoming.
Istambulova, who shuns meat but loves fermented milk, believes it simply is ‘God’s will’ that she will live to see 129th birthday next month.
If correct, Istambulova was already 27 when the Russian Revolution unseated Tsar Nicholas II, 55, when the World War II ended; and 102 when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Asked how she lived so long, Istambulova told an interviewer: ‘It was God’s will. I did nothing to make it happen.’
Relatives say five years ago, she lost her only surviving daughter, Tamara, who died at the age of 104.
Istambulova is said to be articulate and able to feed herself and walk, but her eyesight is failing.
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