Azerbaijan International

Autumn 2004 (12.3)
Page 12

Reader's Forum
Yearning for Home

I think we Azeris can never thank you enough for all the good things you do to promote Azerbaijan. Your Spring issue (AI 12.1) "Azerbaijan Literature: Passionate Pens in Pursuit of Truth" has aroused so many emotions within me. Once again I became aware of an amazing thing: how can such a small country as Azerbaijan bring out such a gallery of outstanding writers and poets, given that there were so many deaths during Stalin's Repression [1930s-1950s]. Yet an army of prominent writers and poets was able to emerge from the ashes, like the phoenix-symbol of immortality.

Azerbaijan literature might be called "Hasrat Literature"-a term that is quite difficult to translate into English, but implying a longing, a yearning, a wish for something that is somehow beyond one's grasp, a painful thirsting for a better life, including independence and freedom. The hardships and obstacles that we have lived through provide us with an abundance of themes.

Eleven years have passed since I left my Motherland for Turkey. While I know Azerbaijan Literature well, the "Refugee Literature" works that you published were quite new to me. For example, Elchin Huseinbeyli's stories: "Letters of a Gray Donkey" and "Answer to Gray Donkey's Letter". [Search at]

They brought back the pain of Karabakh-a festering wound for every Azerbaijani. The pain and humiliation of Karabakh are always there in my sub-consciousness. Otherwise, how can I explain dreaming about walking in Jidir Duzu, the beautiful plains region near Shusha, which is now under occupation by Armenians?

Unfortunately, Huseinbeyli is quite right: "No matter how loud we scream, the world doesn't hear us." He writes: "The birds have also left these places forever. The trees don't blossom." I'm sure Karabakh soil is moaning, too, longing for our steps, voices and songs. Nevertheless, I still cling to the hope that I will live long enough (I'm now 56) to see Shusha and Aghdam where my father lies buried in his grave unvisited.

During the years, I've lived and worked in Turkey, I have come to understand many things that I was not aware of while living back home in Azerbaijan. The most important is this phenomenon called "sense of belonging", or in my case, "this sense of lack of identity and belonging". No matter how comfortable I am in this new country, I don't have a deep sense of belonging.

I have also come to realize why being buried in your own native land becomes such a great consolation for those of us who have had to be separated by unfortunate circumstances. Is it because these people have always longed to be able to smell their own soil, to be able to touch the waters of their own seas, and to be able to speak with their dead? Was it for this reason that the last wish of Zuleykha Asadullayeva Weber of Washington, D.C. was to be buried in Baku, next to her grandfather [one of the Oil Barons of the early 20th century, search at].

This letter is also a "hasrat" letter, written far from Baku-the Baku that is so hard to forget. Words fail to express my gratitude to you and your staff for making these great pieces of literature available to foreign readers. It really makes such a big difference for us Azerbaijanis living abroad to have this magazine.
It reminds me of what our Azerbaijani poet Mikhayil Mushfig once wrote:

"My contemporaries define
Past times were fine.
These words I hate,
My heart says: "Wait!
The suns' hot rays,
Cool springs, bright days
Are yet to come!"

Betura Mehmedova
Isparta, Turkey

From Azerbaijan International (12.3) Autumn 2004.
© Azerbaijan International 2004. All rights reserved.

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