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My first close encounter with war happened not so long ago. The year was 2015. We were visiting Aghdam to conduct youth training. One day, after we finished the training, we decided to visit the frontline. I still cannot forget that day, the emotions I experienced there…

It was early August; the days were very warm. As we were moving farther away from the administrative center of Aghdam, Quzanli and getting close to villages, it appeared as if the weather was getting cooler, clouds were getting bigger, and the sky was changing its color. As we progressed further, we were able to see scorched, destroyed houses. When we reached our destination, soldiers began to appear around unfinished houses. A couple of soldiers were washing and drying their clothes near demolished buildings. I felt like I was inside a war movie. I was feeling so distressed that I was unable to make sense of my feelings because the war was a topic I never wanted to think about.

When I was a kid, I was too scared to watch any footage from the war. As a nineties' kid, we grew up with a limited number of channels on TV. On memorial days of “Bloody January” or the Khojaly Massacre, TV was always turned off. It was because the few channels that existed were only broadcasting those clips that scared me so much. TRT-1 also existed during those times, but it wasn’t broadcast on Memorial Day. I was dreaming for the next day to arrive early, so I could watch cartoons. What else could a kid living far away from the war in a remote village wish for?

Over the years I was taking little steps, as a young person thinking about peace and notions of “war” and “enemy”. That was until Second Karabakh War. This time I experienced the war more vividly, witnessed its horrors. Since I was a mother I had to stay with my baby and couldn’t join my friends who were helping civilians. As a result of this, I was feeling quite uneasy. But one thing hasn’t changed, I was still unable to watch any footage from the war. This was probably leftover trauma from my childhood when I watched those clips that scared me so much. Even during the usual games, I played with my son, I was feeling worked up because there were small reminders from those scenes.

Once, I took a taxi with my son, Orkhan. It was during the war. The taxi driver turned to us, looked at Orkhan, and asked: “ Is it a boy?”. As he saw my confirmation he proclaimed:tomorrow’s soldier !”. I froze, I didn’t know what to say, throughout the road I was thinking to myself:” My baby is going to be a soldier of tomorrow? So it is war, someone knocks on your door to take your child away from you and you give them?!”. I was thinking of this question all day. And at night I slept with the exact question in my mind. After all, dreams are a product of our subconscious. In my dream, I hear a knock at our door. I open it. Two men in military outfits say they have come to take away Orkhan. I feel surprised and state that he is not old enough. I suddenly see one-year-old Orkhan who has just started to walk walking towards them at the door. I cry out:” Orkhan where are you going?”. Orkhan turns around, looks at me, and continues cruising towards them. I woke up at that moment. What a horrible dream. It is a dream for me but other parents experience this in real life. During those days I was not able to sleep, I was afraid something might happen when I was asleep, Orkhan might need me.

I was constantly thinking how easy it is, someone takes your baby away, sends him somewhere, and makes him fight. Thus, from that day on your whole life changes. Not only for you but also for the one who is gone to war. The fact that he has to kill to survive, the fact that he is involved with a fight he didn’t choose or want, the fact that even if he survives, he will continue his life as a different man… Isn’t this tough?! Especially if you are planning on raising your kid with humane and secular values, teaching him fairness and kindness, encouraging him to be a good person, trying never to hurt anyone, never to bully those weaker than him, to love other people, animals, and the nature. War erases all of this, makes you leave behind everything you believe in. At a point like this, how will you protect your child from all this? This question occurred to me after the war. How can I protect him from the effects of war right now?!

We traveled to the countryside, to meet with our family on the Novruz holiday. Since we don’t watch TV in the city we don’t know what is being aired on it. During the time we spent in the countryside there were advertisements on TV that caught my attention. I remember seeing an announcement on a local TV channel, roughly it goes like this: “ If you want to see your child on TV make them say the slogan “ Karabakh is Azerbaijan!”, record it and send it to us and we will broadcast it”. Throughout that day I watched many videos of little kids chanting the slogan “Karabakh is Azerbaijan!”. During and after the war I saw many parents making their children wear military outfits and making them read poems and record them, but broadcasting this on television- this was wholly another matter.

Maybe this is the rule of militarized societies, raising children who call for war from an early age. Normalizing military outfits and weapons from childhood. And when the time comes, easily sending them to war and making them fight the other side who is brought to war just like them. Whoever strikes first survives…



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