Two wars for one life

Khalisa Mammadova lived through both Karabakh wars. In the first war she was forced to leave her native village as a child, and in the second she lost her husband three months after their wedding.
Resettlement and return
35-year-old Khalisa Mammadova was born in the village of Ahmedalilar, Fizuli region, the first child in a family with three children.

In 1993, during the first Karabakh war, they were forced to leave their home after their village came under the control of the Armenian armed forces. They went to Baku and livedin a hostel for sailors in the Khatai district of the capital. In the first grade, she went to school No. 46 for refugee children.

In 1994, after the Horadiz military operation, the village of Ahmedalilar returned under the control of Azerbaijan. In 1999 villagers began to return to their homes.

“Childhood fell during the war period, it was very difficult. When we returned the village was unrecognizable. Burnt houses, ashes everywhere. The school building and everything else was destroyed. There were few inhabitants in the village, so there was a terrible silence everywhere. The burnt walls of our house, the cut down trees in the yard, my father’s charred military uniform on the ground - all this left a deep imprint on my memory.

My father was wounded in the war, he had serious health problems. Despite this, my parents restored our house and yard. It wasn't easy. All this time they still took care of me, my sister and brother, tried to get us an education.”

Khalisa says that the other villagers also eventually returned to their homes. Part of the Fizuli region, controlled by Azerbaijan, was landscaped again. Life began to improve.
“After returning to the area, my sister, brother and I continued our studies at our village school.”
She wanted to become a teacher, but became the director of the museum
After school, Khalisa entered the Faculty of Library Science of Baku State University.
“There were teachers in our school who became an example to us. Seeing their attention, care, I began to like the profession. Our teacher of the Azerbaijani language and literature, Maleyka khanum, especially made me fall in love with this profession. But when I entered the university, I chose library science.”

Although Khalisa graduated from this faculty, she did not become a librarian. After trying several jobs, she returned to Fuzuli in 2016 and began working as a junior researcher at the local history museum. She has been running this museum for a year now.

Khalisa says that the museum was not untouched by war. During the first Karabakh war, in the days when there were battles for the city of Fizuli, the first director of the museum, Bahram Mammadli, together with his employees, was able to evacuate most of the exhibits. These exhibits were placed in the Museum of Independence. In 2014, a new museum building was built in the town of Horadiz, Fizuli region, and the exhibits were returned.
Separation of eleven years and three months of happiness
Khalisa suffered an even greater loss in the second war ⁠— her husband.
“Amil and I were very happy, but our happiness lasted only three months. On September 26 he left for the war. There was no news from him after October. Two months later we learned that he had died. His funeral took place on my birthday. We hadn’t had a child. All I have left of him are memories full of beauty and love.”

Khalisa says that her path with Amil crossed a long time ago, but she had to wait as long as eleven years.

“Although we were close, I never saw him. But he remembered me. In 2009, a close relative of ours came to ask after me for Amil. Without even thinking, without any reason, I refused. But apparently fate wanted it another way, and we met eleven years later, in 2020, when one day I was returning home from work.

To be honest, I don't remember that moment. But Amil said: “You didn’t even raise your head to look in my direction.” He said that at that moment he decided that I would become the love of his life. He said that he was afraid that I would not like it. “I thought that I was an ordinary soldier, and you are a girl with a higher education, a little smug, maybe you won’t even say hello to me,” Amil said.

He confessed to me, so I decided to give him a chance. He said: “When you said that you agreed to get to know me better, the whole world became mine. And when I see you next to me now, I can’t believe my eyes.”

“After we got married, we started buying new things for our house. Amil really liked the carpet for the living room. He said, let's put the table so that the light falls on the carpet and its color can be seen better. But in the end his body was wrapped, according to custom, in the same carpet. All the villagers, everyone who was at the funeral, saw the carpet that he loved so much.”
Rasmiya Jalali
This story is part of the "Tell Me About Yourself" media project, where young Azerbaijanis whose families were displaced as a result of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict tell their stories. The authors are solely responsible for these materials. This is an European Union-funded project implemented by International Alert.
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