Author: Valentina REZNIKOVA
September 27, 2020 went down in the history of Azerbaijan as the beginning of the Patriotic War to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Led by its Commander-in-Chief, the people of Azerbaijan united in patriotic impulse to defend its borders in order to restore the violated justice once and for all. It was a matter of honour for every Azerbaijani regardless of his or her ethnic or religious affiliation, to contribute to the victory. An army of volunteers extended its hand to the media on social networks to propagate the truth about the situation. It was necessary to outreach the millions of users on the historical and documentary aspects of the past and present of Azerbaijan. At the same time, the people consolidated efforts to support the soldiers sending them letters, parcels with essential items – it all suddenly became a daily concern for those who remained behind the front line and were in constant communication with news channels covering events from the military camp. It was not at all that the army was poorly supplied, but because everyone wanted to contribute to the sacred cause of liberating the lands, to feel their involvement. People did not go to bed without receiving news from the front line. The centuries-long multicultural values of Azerbaijan have yielded results: everyone felt like a warrior. Everyone tried to make their own contribution to the process of restoring justice! And each one thought that it was his war too. A seemingly trivial word Motherland, known to many of us from the text-books, now had a concrete meaning and shape. It turned out that the Soviet song Where does the Motherland begin? performed by Mark Bernes in the film Shield and Sword gave a precise answer to this question: it begins from what nobody can deprive us of in any difficult situation!
Where does the Motherland begin?
People's Artist of Azerbaijan Alexandra Nikushina always starts everything with love. There are no semitones in her feelings. She feels a fierce upsurge of energy when she works on her roles and when she writes poetry. Someone may think that it is her profession that has such an influence on her and they, perhaps, will be right. To say more: this is the manifestation of the genetic memory of Russians, a memory that is associated with a feeling of immeasurable gratitude to the land that sheltered them in hard times, eventually having become their Mother. They loved and never renounced Her. Russians shared the fate of their land together with the entire people of Azerbaijan...
The history of the Nikushins in Baku begins at the turn of the 20th century. Ivan Nikushin and his wife Matrona came to the hospitable city of Baku from the Saratov Oblast of Russia. The young couple were happy in the city, where they could see a variety of national clothes and no one was forbidden to pray to the Almighty in the temple of his choice. Synagogues, churches, and mosques coexist in the urban space, organically complementing each other and forming a new type of cultural interaction between people. It is this harmonious interaction that decades later will coin the term Bakuvites, meaning the people born and raised in Baku.
Shura, as her friends and colleagues from the theatre call her, is a third-generation Bakuvite. She is proud of this as well as her title of People's Artist. These are not just words for her. This is a part of her creative, professional and human biography, which perfectly fit into the context of the time and the fate of her Motherland, Azerbaijan.
Motherland - Love - Country
It all starts with Love, which opens up the world surrounding us. It is love that helps us know ourselves. But everyone has their own path to acquiring this knowledge. For Alexandra Nikushina, this path is associated with words. Word are both her guide and mediator in the dialogue that she holds between herself and the world. Building this relationship and making this world richer with her poetic lines, she never knows who exactly will be on the receiving side of her poetry.
With the beginning of hostilities in Garabagh, she could not sleep at night and cried all the time waiting for reports from the front line. Now she cannot explain the nature of her emotional state at the time. She would experience a gamma of feelings whenever she heard an address to the nation of the commander-in-chief or a message about the hostilities in Garabagh, about the barbaric destruction of national shrines and cultural monuments. I had a flash-back of memories. She would visualise the tour of their theatre to Shusha and Aghdam, the Aghdam theatre, the second floor of a roadside cafe where hospitable Aghdam people invited them to tea, the seven wonders of Azerbaijan, which she had always glorified with love and respect in all the outreach programs together with Rossotrudnichestvo.
Azerbaijan is an amazing country
There are many amazing and beautiful places in this country. But the main asset of Azerbaijan, Alexandra believes, is its people! Kind, sympathetic, and compassionate. I could not understand, therefore, why the payment for their natural kindness and responsiveness was total injustice. In fact, Azerbaijanis had to return their own lands by force, losing young boys who had not yet really experienced the meaning of life. Alexandra’s acting fantasies, against her will, completed the overall picture and forced her to feel deep in her heart the details of each human destiny. This pain burned her heart even more. It seemed that the whole country in a single impulse rose to defend the homeland and she felt that she did not yet do anything significant for her country. She did not think that what she had to endure seeing how the enemy attacked the truthful materials about the state of affairs that she posted on social networks were her own achievement. Everyone was doing this in social networks. And she needed to make her personal contribution. And she did it. Information that would later trigger a series of events came from Alexandra’s eldest son. He called and asked her permission to post on social netweorks one of her poems written ten years ago under the impression of a story about a gardener and the two rose bushes. He took them away from Shusha during the First Garabagh War.
"This is my war too!"
She was overwhelmed by what this man did. Expelled from his home, he took with him not gold, not money, but two bushes of the Shusha roses. He did not even know if he would survive, if he would be able to take care of the roses. And if he did, would the roses be able to grow in another land... After all, roses are very demanding flowers, especially the ones from Shusha. But his ones survived. The gardener saved this rare variety of the Shusha beauty in order to return it to its homeland later. Alexandra Nikushina was shocked by the act of this man so much that this story turned into optimistic verses, where she expressed absolute confidence in the triumph of justice:
I believe the day will come
When anxieties sink into the shadows;
Shusha will breathe freely and easily
And the sun will give its warmth to earth
When roses return to Garabagh.
May Azerbaijan be covered with flowers!
Nikushina’s poem about the roses and the gardener made her write a whole cycle of poems. This is both logical and natural. All her subsequent poems, written during the Patriotic War in chronological sequence, are associated with the manifestation of the unparalleled courage of our people and the strength of their spirit. The author glorifies these qualities of the people, not hiding feelings of pride, respect and love for her people and their multicultural values. She herself is a part of this people, acutely experiencing the painful moments of a common fate.
We are all in the same boat
We can’t just sit and wait!
Pass through our hearts.
The land of Garabagh
is waiting for liberation!
Knowing no fear,
We attack the enemy.
Author has so far posted eight poems on social networks. This is her response, the response of her heart to the events in Garabagh. There are no fictional characters in them. Each of her characters has a real prototype.
They also tell us about the burning Kelbajar with its barbarously destroyed cultural heritage:
They leave after desecrating the graves in anger,
Like marauders, they drag everything.
The earth froze in awe:
These madmen do not know what they are doing!
She also tells us a story of a mother, who blessed her son for victory, but then, contrary to laws and tradition, had to carry the coffin with his body on her shoulders to fulfil her promise:
Go, dear, and save our Garabagh!
And I’ll wait for your return with victory,
to hug you with tears of joy.
But when Allah does not save you,
I will carry you on my arms,
Same as I would make your bed,
I will put you in the ground, as in a cradle.
This is also a story about the 22-year-old Khudayar Yusifzade, who supported the fighting spirit of his fellow soldiers with his song in moments of rare tranquillity between the battles:
Sing, Khudayar, and sing without stopping!
You’ll live in this song forever.
And the whole Azerbaijan
Picks up the tune with you.
Expressing her pain on a sheet of paper, she could barely make out the lines with her eyes swollen from tears. How many of them were killed and how many will remain there forever? How to protect them? How to prevent the tragedy? How? It seemed that a mother's heart would burst with pain and compassion, because she herself is a mother of two sons. Every word, every line is full of tears of bitterness of loss, tragedy of shed blood and delight of shock by the courage, wisdom and nobility of the people. In the name of Freedom. In the name of Justice. In the name of Life. In the name of Light. Eternal and endless, like Life itself. In spite of all the forces of Evil and Injustice. All this can be found in the verses of the Russian theatre actress Alexandra Nikushina, who proudly calls herself a Bakuvite and a Russian Azerbaijani. For her poem The Story of the Great Wanderer, she received many threats from the Armenian segments of social networks.
“Did it scare you?”
She shakes her curls and replies:
“No! I was pleased. I realised that I hit the target. This is my war too! And if I can achieve my goal by taking part in information battles, then my life was not in vain. I realised that words can also be a powerful weapon. And I was also pleased to know that many of my compatriots of different nationalities reacted to this threat and defended me. This once again convinced me of the accuracy of the call of our Commander-in-Chief: Together we are strong!
“It was especially pleasant to know about the restoration and return of the monuments to Natavan, Bulbul, and Uzeyir Hajibeyov to Garabagh, at the place of their origin. That’s why I ended the cycle with the poem Everything returned to normal. In the final lines, I addressed to them:
“You’re a symbol of Faith, Happiness and Freedom!
Transparent air shining as glass
Filled you with the breath of Garabagh.
And no matter how many centuries have passed,
The land is alive with the blessing of Allah!”
People's Artist Alexandra Nikushina is the author of the poetic cycle This is my war! It’s become one of the winners of competition held by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan in the nomination Poems about the War. She is proud of her win and keeps her diploma in the most honourable place at home. Moreover, these poems were not written by instruction or specifically for the competition, but for participation in information battles for the highest justice. One day in February, a phone call rang in the house of Alexandra Konstantinovna. It was a call from the Ministry of Defense. She was told that she became a winner of the competition, was awarded a diploma and a trip to Garabagh. She recalls this with delight, looking forward for the next call. She hopes that it will sound ring soon, and, perhaps, she, together with other participants in the competition, will celebrate the Day of our Victory in Shusha! Why not? Beautiful dreams must come true...
PS: This short story from the life of Russian Azerbaijani Alexandra Nikushina is typical for our country. We can find evidence of devoted, faithful love and irreplaceable patriotism in many representatives of our multinational nation. Everyone is ready to stand up for the interests of homeland. Because we still have something that no one can take away from us - the ability to preserve our national values! And it is not surprising that in Azerbaijan, there are many women who do not want the names of our martyrs to sink into oblivion, becoming just a heroic past. They want to immortalise the names and faces of those who will never enter the parental home, will not hug their parents, will not go on a date with their beloved girlfriends. Our boys - Turkic Azerbaijanis, Russian Azerbaijanis, Talysh Azerbaijanis, Lezghin Azerbaijanis, Jewish Azerbaijanis... - will forever remain 20 years old, filling the cemeteries with equally black tombstones. Our boys. Our kids. Our sons. At the cost of their own lives, they restored Justice, Honour, Dignity and Self-respect for the entire nation.
The first volume of the recently published book Simurgs of the Motherland. Heroes of the Second Garabagh War tells us about them – those who will never come again, will not hug their beloved ones, will not play with their children, will not know the taste of the first kiss. The work on the subsequent volumes continues.