Azerbaijan

Interview with Adampara Zahra

Editorial | Republic Underground

November 20, 2020 

Following interview with Adampara Zahra, 59 years old, Narimanov district.

Interview by Irina Tsukerman

Above image: “Aghdam, Mosque, 2010.08.18 (01)” by Vahe Martirosyan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It was 7 pm on February 28, 1992. It was as if the city was in silence. After the Khojaly genocide, people were in confusion. I was dressing my two-month-old daughter at home. My mother watered the trees in our yard. Suddenly a terrible bombing began.

The Armenians began to bomb Aghdam from the city buildings. Since our house was in the center, most of the bombs fell on our streets. I still remember my mother’s screams. He said, “Take the child and run away.” I didn’t even have time to dress the baby. I wrapped my baby in a blanket and took her in my arms. When we came out of the yard into the street, we encountered a terrible view. The bombed-out houses caught fire. We did not know where to go.

The street was full of people and cars. We went to a place called the Children’s Hospital. Someone took us to a relative’s house with a car. We stayed there in the evening. In the morning we returned home to pick up our belongings. Our house was devastated. Doors and windows were destroyed. We took some things that we could get our hands-on. Then we came to Baku. Thus, as the bombing intensified, the people of Aghdam were forced to leave the city.

When and under what circumstances you left Aghdam? What were your memories of the city before invasion and departure? 

Before the occupation, Aghdam was one of the most beautiful, developed, and rich cities of Azerbaijan. Aghdam was distinguished by its size, beauty, antiquity, historical monuments, and culture. The houses, parks, and grandeur of Aghdam were irreplaceable. There was a “Viticulture Palace”. Various events were held here.

Aghdam Drama Theater was a monument built in a magnificent architectural style. The Friendship Cinema was a place where all the people of Aghdam gathered. Behind it was a large place with beautiful rare flowers and trees. My father took me there every night. There was a “House of Pioneers” in Aghdam, which gave Azerbaijan many artists and singers. One of the traditions of the people of Aghdam was to germinate wheat and cook halva with water every year in April-May. Relatives and neighbors got together that day. This halva was made in one day. Then the halva was handed out to neighbors on plates. Novruz holidays were very fun and memorable. Our wedding would last 2-3 days. I would like to mention shopping centers, passages, music schools, a newly built hotel building. We always remember the mountains around Aghdam, beautiful villages like Gulabli, fresh air, and pure water.

How do you feel about the upcoming reintegration?

We have been looking forward to the return of Aghdam for many years. Of course, love of the land is a very strong feeling and will never be forgotten. Of course, we are waiting for our return, we can rebuild those houses, the main thing is to live in Aghdam and be able to return to a more glorious appearance with the help of our state.

Do they hope to return home? what are they looking forward to doing it

Of course, we have always lived with this hope. Apparently, our hopes came true. I’m looking forward to setting foot on the land of Aghdam, first of all, find the place where we used to have a house and kiss the land.

Any comments on plans to contribute to rebuilding the city?

After assessing the initial situation, we are ready to do whatever is necessary.