If I had the attention of every citizen of the world for just a moment, I would cry “STOP WAR!” as loudly as I could. Wars devastate lives and make wild animals out of humans. However, they also bring out our strength, perseverance, and heroism among common men.
I knew an old Azerbaijani woman who lived very close to the contact line between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Although I could see the tragedy of the conflict in her eyes and on the wrinkles of her face, her words did not let on. Instead of grieving her involvement as part of this tragic history or slipping into a state of anger or despair, she expressed patriotism, hope, and resilience.
I first met this woman while staying with a host family in the region. The old woman was in poor health and visited my host mother, a registered nurse, every day in order to receive an injection necessary for her condition. Although she was not very talkative, during her visits she shared her story with me.
Her son was killed in front of her eyes in 1993. Although her daughter in law escaped with her granddaughter, she never heard from them again. It is thought that they were either killed or lost to cold and hunger. War is cold.
Half of her front yard is occupied by Armenian forces and she hasn’t used the second floor of her new house since July, 1993 in fear of being shot. Light must not escape through the windows so they are covered with large dark curtains, similar to those used during World War II. She lives in darkness.
Although she once shared the house with her grandson, he has since move to Baku to study. She remains in her house alone. Many of her neighbors have lost their lives, her own life is accidental. It is a lonely village.
I was deeply saddened by her story but also struck with admiration. She truly was fighting to live her life on her terms as best she could, despite her tragedy and loneliness. She was living face to face with death, but was positive about the future.
Post written by Sevda Salayeva