I’m going to make an admission that I’m terribly ashamed of. Although my mother tongue is Azerbaijani, I’ve read only two books in this language. Growing up in Soviet Azerbaijan, I was lead to believe that my mother tongue and culture was backward, that one’s life opportunities were severely limited if they were not Russian-speakers, that it was a lot better to devour every book in Russian than waste time on books in Azerbaijani. As a result, I’ve read everything from War and Peace to Anna Karenina to Pushkin’s poetry. Well, it was all part of the school curriculum. I studied in Russian. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I continued to read in Russian, and later in English. I thought and breathed in those languages. Only in deep sleep did I speak my mother tongue (still do, actually, wake me up at 3am and you’ll find out)…
The two books I’ve read in Azerbaijani were a book of fairy tales and The Adventures of Mulla Nasreddin. Here is one of Mulla Nasreddin’s stories that I still remember.
‘Once Mulla Nasreddin was sitting by the side of the road, eating raisins. A man approached him and asked,
‘Hey Mulla, what are you eating?’
Mulla answered, ‘That’s why.’
‘What do you mean?’ the man was puzzled. ‘I asked you what you are eating.’
‘Well, I just cut to the chase. I’d reply ‘raisins’, you’d say ‘can I have some?’ I’d reply ‘no’. You’d say ‘Why?’. I’d say, ‘That’s why.’ So, why drag on this conversation if I could tell you ‘That’s why’ straightaway.’
This is Day 6 of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge run by LearnToBlog.com. The theme I’m exploring in these 30 days is Azerbaijan, the setting of my memoir(s). I’ll show you places and share memories that shape my books.