An Armenian-Azerbaijani life of wandering
A life of wandering
“There are no photos where dad and mom are together. They collected photos in one album. When we moved, our things were moved to my grandmother’s house, and then there was a fire and the album was destroyed.
“Pictures” of Emil’s mother and father together remained only in his memory. Emil Rahimov, 42, was born in Baku. His father is Armenian, his mother Azerbaijani. They fell in love as students and got married, then had two boys. This was in the ’80s, when the two peoples lived in peace.
Between home and family
Emil’s father and mother were students at the former Institute of National Economy. Emil says that when they decided to get married, their parents and relatives did not mind.
After graduation the newlyweds began working at the BakElectroAvtomat plant. To live closer to work they moved to the village of Bina, on the outskirts of Baku.
Then the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan began. Azerbaijanis from Armenia were forced to move to Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijani Armenians to Armenia.
Gennady, Emil’s father, also decided to leave Azerbaijan. First he went to Armenia, could not get along there, moved to Russia, and there too stayed there for a short time. In the end, he moved to Kazakhstan where his mother was and stayed there.
After some time, Gennady brought his wife and children to him. But Solmaz, his wife, could not live away from her homeland and relatives, and together with her sons she returned to Azerbaijan.
“She didn’t understand that I was not to blame for the conflict”
According to Emil, life without a father was very difficult for both him and his brother. But he says that because of their nationality, he and his brother did not have problems either at school or in the yard among the neighbors, although they still switched to their mother’s surname.
“I almost never experienced discrimination. Only once did I work in the yard of a woman in Surakhani, and when she found out that I was half Armenian, she drove me away. She did not understand that I was not to blame for this conflict. I almost did not take offense at her, I accepted it with understanding.”
“From the age of 15 I began to wander”
As a child, Emil dreamed of becoming a doctor and prepared to enter a medical school. But his family was in a difficult financial situation and he had to work from an early age, so he could not get a good education. A new circle of friends in high school also alienated him from his studies.
“I was a plastic bag salesman at a flea market—that was my first job. At the age of 15, I first started to wander. I got acquainted with cigarettes and vodka. It was cold at the market in winter, this was the only way to keep going.”
But he nevertheless learned to be an electrician at the insistence of his family, and this profession still feeds him.
“You can say that I did everything I wanted in this life and achieved everything I wanted. Maybe my desires were small, but you need to enjoy life. The biggest desire was probably to serve in the army. I was tall, but very thin, and not accepted into the army. I had to fight for the right to serve for a very long time, and I succeeded. I served in Nakhichevan.”
“I went to Russia on foot”
After the army, Emil decided to live in Russia. It came to his mind abruptly.
“I got ready, didn’t say anything to anyone, went to the border, from there I crossed into Russia on foot. My family put me on the wanted list. I was shown on TV, on the news. I found a good job there, I made good money, but I missed my homeland very much. Once I was returning home by taxi, the driver was listening to mugham. When I heard it, I started crying. I said to myself: “Emil, what are you doing here?” And just as I had gotten there, I left — without telling anyone.”
Emil says he never married, but doesn’t consider it a failure. He says that he could marry in Russia, but did not want to, did not feel ready for family life.
Prison in Germany and books
Later he decided to try his luck in Europe and lived for some time in Germany. According to Emil, it was difficult for him to find a job there. He says that he did not have a job, had no means of subsistence, and had to steal food in the markets, and he got caught for that. Life in a German prison brought him closer to books.
“There was a lot of books in there. On psychology, philosophy, logic, natural sciences, religion, fiction. This period taught me a lot. I learned not to make decisions on first impressions, I learned ideologies, I became more sociable, I began to apply in my life all the good things that I read.”
Emil says that he has no idea about his future.
“I just want to live to retirement age, sit idle in the yard. Watch for those who come, go, grumble at everyone. And I also want the hungry ’90s to never happen again, not only for me, for everyone. For peace and tranquility, everyone lived happily and prosperously.”
Author: Huseyn Gurbanzade
This story is part of the “Tell Me About Yourself” media project, where young Azerbaijanis whose families were displaced as a result of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict tell their stories. The authors are solely responsible for these materials.This is an European Union-funded project implemented by International Alert and GoGroup Media.