Özgə stands for “other” which is a bit of a subject of fascination of mine and a very sensitive issue in many of the places in the world including Azerbaijan.
What is that other and how do we accept it? A neighbor? A friend? An enemy? Another human being? A soul that’s come in close proximity with us? How much of a space in our home, in our heart can we allow for the other without losing our own sense of identity? Without getting harmed?
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been described as one of the bloodiest conflicts in the post-Soviet territory. It’s an un-healing wound which has remained as a result of the unresolved argument between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over the peace of land formerly known as Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.
Before visiting Azerbaijan, I was aware of the conflict, but only having come to Ganja it has become very clear to me what a massive effect it has on the people presumably living in the “time of peace”.
While hiking in the mountains just under 10 km away from the conflict area, we’ve seen a distant figure of a man overlooking the view from the peak of a mountain. On our way there we haven’t really met anyone strolling around. The area appeared oddly secluded, so it was kinda strange to witness someone overlooking us from up high.
“Probably an Armenian. A soldier, I guess” the local walking next to me commented.
“You don’t really like Armenians much here, huh?” I replied, attempting to gently bring up the subject of the conflict in a form of a casual chat.
“It’s not like we don’t like them – it’s them who don’t like us. They just have something against us.”
Forgive and forget is a fine defined ruled, all too often light-hardheartedly thrown around by those who have never been wounded. As I attempted to place myself in the shoes of the “other”, I just let the words I’ve only just heard to be carried away by the wind and refrained from commenting any further.