A Story of Loss in Karabakh

Although I am an Azerbaijani, I do not know Karabakh as well as my countrymen who were once at home in the region, when Azerbaijani people could safely live in the area before the battle for Karabakh. Although we can study the Karabakh region and conflict, only those who have lived and lost in Karabakh can truly make us understand. For my third blog post I will share the story of one courageous woman who lived in Karabakh and lost her husband in the battle for Karabakh. Through her story, one can begin to understand the depth of human and cultural loss in Karabakh.

I have known this woman for a few years, but never dared to speak to her about Karabakh. I dialed her number with hesitation. Much to my astonishment, she accepted the offer with great pleasure and invited me to dinner. She greeted me with a warm smile and shared her stories openly.

“I left the village later than everybody” she told me. She paused as if struck by the memories of dark days and continues, “I was breeding moths and I couldn’t leave them behind. But, I woke up one day and all of them were dead. They were probably poisoned by dangerous gases in the air caused by the extra use of guns in the zone those times.”

When she finally left it was the summer of 1992. “We were terrified so we left the village,” she shares. “We went to the bank of river Gargar and made a tent there.  We spent the whole night there with villagers. When we woke in the morning, we drank water and ate the food we had. My son Parviz began to cry, missing the tea with sugar we customarily drank in the morning. All of our hearts were broken. In an attempt to assuage his tears and preserve some semblance of cultural normalcy, I returned to the village to fetch him a thermos of tea and sugar. “

“Six of our male relatives were killed and we went to cry for them in the graveyard. We cried for a while and then we just realized we were crying for someone else, not for our relatives.  We found their actual graves and started to cry again.”

Post written by Sevda Salayeva