By Yelena Shuster, KF 11, Azerbaijan

Last Tuesday I traveled from Baku to Fuzuli, a rural region in southwestern Azerbaijan, to meet two clients for borrower verification. The drive took us 4 hours (and 4 more to return), on a hot winding road that was paved but a few years ago. We drove past the Iranian border, a simple gate with vegetation behind it and no soldiers. Like custom dictates, we stopped for tea along the way at one of the road stops.

I was excited to go to Fuzuli. Named after a renowned Azeri poet of the 15th century, Fuzuli today is one of the “occupied territories” (see here). Only about 20% of Fuzuli remains within Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction and its current inhabitants are a blend of Fuzuli natives and internally displaced people from surrounding Nagorny-Karabakh. The main sector of employment in Fuzuli is agriculture.

As I’ve written in a previous post, Fuzuli is an important place for my MFI, as it is the place where Komak was founded amongst 20 internal refugees. Currently, about 30% of Komak’s borrowers live in Fuzuli.

I hope you enjoy the following video I made about my day doing borrower verification in Fuzuli!

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Guests During One’s Lifetime
By Mammad Araz (Azeri poet born 1933)

Someone is knocking at my door.
“Hey, who’s knocking?”
“I’m Memory.
I’ve brought a letter from your first love.”
(An angry woman appears in the kitchen.
The person knocking disappears with the letter.)

Again, a knock at the door.
“Hey, who’s knocking?”
“I’m Praise!”
“Welcome!”
“Do you have anything to drink?”
“No, I don’t!”
“Then go on writing!”
(Praise leaves).

Knock, knock.
“Who are you?”
“It’s me – Need!
Open the door!”
“What news?
I haven’t seen you for a long time.”
“It seems the less you see of me, the more you miss me.”
“Your neighbor gets a wage equivalent to five salaries
Another man buys a car.”
“By God, let me write!”

Again knock, knock.
“Who’s that?”
“Your friend, Latest News!”
This damned world hasn’t collapsed:
Our century is the century of diplomacy, hey brother!
They speak about peace, carrying bombs in their pockets.
Two more of your poems were rejected
Because of your friends there.”
*
“Give me some peace! Let me breathe!”

Again a knock at the door.
“Who do you want?”
“I’m Fame!”
“Welcome, who are you looking for?”
“Mammad Araz”
“Brother, you’re late.
He doesn’t live here any more.”
“Where does he live now?”
“It’s near this place -
There’s a grave over which a woman is crying,
That’s where you’ll find him now.”

* “They speak of peace, carrying bombs in their pockets” meaning that his friends are double-faced and superficial and, in reality, don’t support him.

Translated by Aytan Aliyeva

Yelena Shuster is a Kiva Fellow serving with Komak Credit Union in Azerbaijan. Support Komak borrowers and join our team Friends of Komak!


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