Such a strange thing-chance. Or fate. Whichever you personally believe in. I had not visited Baku for two years, and just when I finally did, this weird shooting happened. I got up in the morning, and it was finally sunny and hot. Having canceled yet another massage appointment,( I tried to squeeze as many as possible in my visit, as they are still cheaper than in the UK) I grabbed my child and mother and headed to a nice hotel near the beach. Suddenly, my mobile went mad. Everyone I knew was calling to check I was not around the central 28th of May area, where some “terror act” just happened, they said.
What exactly happened?- I sighed, losing patience after about 3 phone calls: the weather was far too nice to worry about some distant shooting. Coming from this country, a one-off incident did not sound that scary to me: I was one stop away from the explosions on the underground a few years ago in London.
By lunchtime, I heard more and more stories on my mobile phone, and the taxi driver taking us back from the beach, was sharing details I was convinced were made up: The shooter might have been alone, but there could have been two of them. He was a professional, as he only shot the victims in either heads or necks. A mother lied dead with a child still holding her hand……
The next night- my last night in Baku- we went out for a meal with a bunch of relatives and friends. Everyone had their version of what happened. An old English friend of mine as usual, knows everything. He insists a war is coming, and he is convinced summer is the best time for it. Everyone who can leave should leave before August- he says. Get your mother out of here by summer. Right, I say….Right. Calm down.
But he says I have no clue. He says, I turned too British now, and lost touch with reality of that whole region. He on the other hand, lived there for too long, and is thinking like a local now. Everything that happens is a plot, and a sign. Everything has a hidden meaning.
And that basically, is the prevailing mood of the people back home. For years, I hear something terrible is about to happen. When I went back a few years ago, an Azeri driver I used to know from work warned me not to come back again.
It is nice that you miss home,- he said- but I am telling you: It will get really bad here.
Clearly, everyone is an expert in conspiracy theory.
Honestly? I personally have not got a clue. And that is precisely what I think is annoying: that nobody truly knows what happened, and probably never will.
I can easily imagine the guy was a nutter. (There are enough of those all over the world, just look at Atilla!) But I can just as easily buy into the theory that it was an evil move to destabilize the country, and get it into yet another damaging war, so that it could then be invaded, taken over and raped again. For the gas. For the oil. For the money. Just like it happened before, just like it can happen again.
And as I stared out of the car coming home on my last night, I watched buildings swim by in all their new glory and beauty. All the money pushed aggressively into my face from every sign: Dior… Valentino…D&G… expensive shops opening all over the place….all those flashy cars, lit up fountains and restaurants. Such a stunning facade. Such a shaky and vulnerable content inside. My poor, abused country. What is going to happen to you?
And then there are those families. Who probably don’t worry much about any war or future right now- for them, there isn’t much point of the future any longer. They spent years razing a child, probably bribed his way into that prestigious university….fed him breakfast in the morning, and made sure he had a clean shirt on…and suddenly, their world collapsed around them. Just because…well, who the hell knows because of what or whom. Does it even matter? We are all too insignificant and disposable in this game. And it could have been me lying on that asphalt that morning with my daughter holding on to my hand. Kismet. Fate. Or just a stupid chance.
But life goes on, and that night we were laughing and joking at the busy and loud Turkish café. And now I am back, in my English home, and my favorite wisteria is about to start blooming. Yet, my thoughts occasionally drift back to those families who lost their children that day. What a pointless and horrible waste.