Azerbaijan International

Spring 1998 (6.1)
Page 6

Reader's Forum
If Grandfather Could See Us Now

When it comes to independence, my family, like thousands of others in Azerbaijan and the Soviet Union, have shared similar fates. My grandfather, Asgar Mastanov, was one of the many thousands who was arrested during Stalin's years of repression. In 1940, they sent him to Kazakhstan and kept him in prison for ten years. The entire process took him away from our family for fifteen years.

By profession, my grandfather had been a teacher of mathematics at the Azerbaijan Oil Academy (known then as Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute). He was accused of being a nationalist-one who believed in the nation of Azerbaijan. They arrested him for teaching Turkish in his classes. But the truth is my grandfather would have been very, very happy if he ever had the chance even to meet a person from Turkey. Nowadays, when we entertain Turkish guests in our home, my father tells how my grandfather suffered for his beliefs.

As for me, I'm only 19, but I can say that it's really great to be a citizen of an independent country. Already, last year I was able to study abroad in the U.S., under the Bill Bradley scholarship program as a high school exchange student. It's so wonderful to be able to say what you think, do what you want and just be free. I wish my grandfather would have had the same experience.

Vafa Mastanova

From Azerbaijan International (6.1) Spring 1998.
© Azerbaijan International 1998. All rights reserved.

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