Do I miss my country? A lot of people ask me this question.
My mother, my brothers, relatives, friends, colleagues, readers and local people of the country where I currently live.
“Do you miss your homeland?”
Usually I answer ‘no’, and I don’t feel that I’m being dishonest. I really do not miss Azerbaijan. It’s the opposite, actually – I’m scared of Azerbaijan. Images of Azerbaijan give me the same feeling of when I see videos about North Korea.
They give me goosebumps.
However, I can’t entirely break myself away from my country, in the same way that one cannot break one’s self away from the five senses. I can not tear myself away from the tastes of my country – its flavors, sounds, colors, its texture.
I open my fridge and see grape leaves sent by 3 people from 3 different countries that were delivered by the German post.
There is always thyme in my tea closet, I can’t drink tea without it. There is a box of “Azerchay” hidden behind my can of thyme.
I’ve got saffron, dried plumbs, dried mint, sumach and other spices that made it into my spice cabinet in Norway all the way from Bilasuvar. Whenever I cook, I think – I’m not putting spices into my food, I’m putting Azerbaijan. Without feeling sad or missing it.
I cook meals from Azerbaijani cuisine, I watch Azerbaijani movies, listen to Azerbaijani music. I speak Azerbaijani with my son who stubbornly responds to me in Russian.
I look at my way of life, at my interests and think – am I not missing my homeland? Don’t I want to go back to the culture and the people to which I belong? I think about it and go back to Azerbaijan in my mind. I take a walk on the streets of Baku.
But I meet neither Seymur Baijan nor Ali Akbar. One of them is in Georgia, the other in Switzerland. I want to have dinner with someone, but I can’t give a call to Elmir Mirzoyev, Emin Aslan, Nurlana or Khalisa. They have all either left the country or were forced to do so. When I want to listen to music, I remember that both Jamal Ali and Azer Cirtdan have also left.
And my journalist friends Afghan Mukhtarli and Abbas Atilay have also departed.
80 percent of the cultural and social circles I belong to are no longer in Azerbaijan. The remaining 20 percent are there only in body, not in spirit. Their spirits left for the West a long time ago.
And aside from people – even the trees I used to know are gone. As if the whole country has gone somewhere together with its buildings, trees, people and another city has been plopped down on top of it.
The city that I’m not connect to, that I no longer belong to, is alien to me. The sea of that country is closed, the trees felled; it is full of stone fences, and the worst is that the gems of the country have left, scattered themselves about the world. . .
. . . where they spread Azerbaijani music, literature and their minds.
Those unable to leave are in a constant state of fear and anxiety, irrespective of their being imprisoned or not.
I remember old Azerbaijani songs. And when I listen to them, I realize that they no longer belong to today’s Azerbaijan.
I remember a song of Elmira Rehimova:
The sun rises; afternoon, afternoon.
Dawn wears flat the world
Gunel Movlud was born on October 9 of 1981 in Mehdili village of Jabrayil. She graduated from Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts in 2003.