Azerbaijani Dream – a Woman in Baku
The presidential phone rang. Mahammad, the president of the social organization where Narmina was chief executive, called her for the fourth time this morning. The first time he caught her in the shower, where she desperately tried to keep up with her soapy hands and keep the frying out of her voice. She had turned off the water with her slippery hands and took the first orders of the day naked and wet. Orders that often had nothing to do with their actual tasks, but mostly more with their banking operations. Business that seemed to mean being or not being for Mahammad. What was probably the case, she knew. In his main business, he was the owner of a private bank. And the license was valid only as long as the President allowed it. Now she had to hurry up, the breakfast was cancelled. Her driver has been waiting in front of your house for a while. Mostly patient, only the respective driving style gave her a glimpse of his state of mind.
Because it was already after 9 a.m., Narmina had hastily said goodbye to her husband and son. Her daughter Seyla was still asleep. At the age of 21, still unmarried, this power-consuming person inevitably lived in his parents‘ house. This was a matter of course for an unmarried young woman.
Narmina, however, was increasingly reluctant to endure Seyla’s whims. Seyla wasn’t even able to clean up, shop or prepare herself for food. When there was nothing to eat, she starved. Narmina then approached her, slammed her with the doors or said that her mother could be glad she wasn’t married yet. Not only this evil-happyness and ungratefulness, Narmina wanted to remove everything from her life. Her husband Adil, her daughter and also her son Dzhamil, whom she had to give birth to for her second husband, as she had promised before the wedding. Adil was her second husband after a failed first marriage. Adil, once her great love. Or was it the other way around, had she been more his great love? What did she want? She didn’t know anymore. Narmina liked to get up late; she loved to be alone in the world of nightshade for as long as possible or to dream her dream. Her recurring dream, which led her far away, in which her body and thoughts felt light. She enjoyed the slow awakening extensively, longer than it was supposed to be. Still, she had never slept. Sliding into the day in this way was simply necessary, as she always fell asleep late when the helpful, sleep-bringing tablets finally showed their effect.
As she got into the car, she just saw her son’s nanny going into the house. The car arrived; with one last glance, Narmina captured everything that caused her to die inwardly. The place where she lived in a protective cover and not as a wife, mother and wife. Let alone as a lady who heard her quietly in herself. She designed her facade according to the needs of her self. Perfectly made up in a tight dress and on high heels. She was very different from the woman who gave birth to her daughter at the age of 19 after marrying her first husband. Then the Soviet republic fell apart, Azerbaijan had oriented itself to the west; Narmina could not and did not want to settle for this life over time. She wanted to study. Her husband could not bear an educated woman by his side. Every book she read, she had to pay with beatings and humiliations. Locked in her room, she studied the books she had smuggled into the house hidden in her clothes. True to the commandments of Islam: To use intelligence and to gain knowledge is not only the obligation for every man, but also for every woman. But if she kept these rules to him, he beat her. The family urged them to come to their senses. She should be obedient.
The driver honked through the traffic, for which there seemed to be no rules. He wanted to deliver his boss quickly in the office so that he could get another drug for his wife. Although he only had to drive a few times a day, he had a long day’s work ahead of him. He often spent his time waiting in the canteen, which was more like a kitchen, until late in the evening. Sometimes he also spent hours in front of ministries or restaurants. His main occupation was waiting. He hurried to drive through the chaos. Those who drove the fastest, honked the loudest or even used the oncoming lane had priority. The phone rang. The president of the organization was back. In real life, Mahammad was a private banker, a friend of the great president, Alijew. Narmina knew the dependencies very well for a long time. Sometimes her boss went to Malta with the President. She called these trips „feeding pigeons.“ As a former World Bank employee, she had a clue what these trips meant. Wealth alone, however, did not necessarily free up here in Baku. Even if one of the presidential luxury allowed you to fly to Italy once a weekend to relax in a wellness oasis.
Mahammad did this regularly, mostly with his wife. But a mistake, a false political word, could undo all of this. The risk of losing his banking license drove him to control everyone else around him in order to stay in the game. But however critical she wanted to see it, the weekends on which her president was recovering were also the more pleasant ones for Narmina. The phone then remained silent for a long time.
Traffic stopped once again. Narmina wanted to get to her desk quickly. The president had been brief on his last call and only gave an instruction, but called again every five minutes because he had something else to correct or something to correct that he needed immediately. At a pace, progress was made. Slowly, the haze bell also descended over Baku, the city of the winds, but they did not blew strong enough to stop the smog. They only caused the dust that came from the countless construction sites to swirl and lay down on the body. The driver turned the car on the six-lane road, left behind the newly built magnificent buildings in recent years and turned into a small side street littered with potholes. The dust forced him to keep the car windows closed despite the heat. Houses destroyed by paid tenants, walls with broken plaster and construction debris formed the backdrop for the journey on slip roads. Houses from which one had to get out in time, if it suddenly burned at night, because one had not been willing to disappear for 30,000 Manat and to look for an apartment far outside the city. The mafia of ground speculators worked ruthlessly and successfully. With the passing ruins, these thoughts evaporated. Their thoughts were now directed at the last congress of the organization, in which Aydin had also participated, after the calls. The predecessor of their current boss. Aydin had built up the organization and had been very successful with his team. Unexpected success in an organization designed solely to preserve an entrepreneur’s appearance of social engagement was a thorn in the side of some. He had gone too far with his social commitment. That’s why Aydin had to change his job, and his team was also replaced. Now he was the right hand of a minister, Narmina his successor. She had never known what exactly it was about. This was a condition for private wealth: One had to give oneanother a social touch, to engage socially or at least successfully to preserve the appearance of the social. Failing upwards was a pleasant version of possible sanctions if one misinterpreted his role. These days he offered Narmina a job in the ministry. With the prospect of earning three times the current salary. She felt a little insecurity. Why did he do that? She sometimes considered a change, after all, the offer was tempting. A power play, perhaps. It would be a 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. job with good pay. Charming, but the third or fourth position in the line. She knew similar structures through her many years of work at the World Bank. In her organization, she could now determine a lot – but was persecuted: from the president in the shower and to the bedroom; From the thoughts she made about her co-workers when she wasn’t already half dead in bed, dead in her ladylike shell. Yes, Lady wanted her to be, to feel like a lady. She repeated that like a mantra. Ten centimetre high heels, tight blue dress; The sad-looking brown eyes, which they looked at in the mirror in the morning, were hidden behind the large dark sunglasses and her hair was tied tightly to the back. Every day she had to prove herself in a role that she is only supposed to But her version of being able to make a difference here drove her. After all, she had a free hand to replace some people. The president’s school friends, the distant uncles, a cousin, perhaps, or those who provided good relationships in a mutual utility? Maybe. Then there was the spy in the office. She certainly wouldn’t get rid of it. That was the place in every organization. Someone who doesn’t really work. She tried not to be impressed. When Narmina finally arrived at the office, everything was quiet, as always. As usual, the men sat in front of their PC, phoned or were neven there.
Her assistant was a bright young woman, slim, clear-eyed, listening. The same was true of the other younger women in her office, all of whom exuded more energy than most male colleagues. They knew little about their employer’s background. Nobody here had too much expectation. Commitment has been carefully demonstrated, always with the possibility of taking a step back. play from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The doctor had forbidden her from anything else. After that, it would not consume renewable energy. She was exhausted by the various roles she had to play. Refuted by the social contradictions. But her version of being able to make a difference here drove her. After all, she had a free hand to replace some people. The president’s school friends, the distant uncles, a cousin, perhaps, or those who provided good relationships in a mutual utility? Maybe. Then there was the spy in the office. She certainly wouldn’t get rid of it. That was the place in every organization. Someone who doesn’t really work. She tried not to be impressed.
When Narmina finally arrived at the office, everything was quiet, as always. As usual, the men sat in front of their PC, phoned or were neven there.Her assistant was a bright young woman, slim, clear-eyed, listening. The same was true of the other younger women in her office, all of whom exuded more energy than most male colleagues. They knew little about their employer’s background. Nobody here had too much expectation. Commitment has been carefully demonstrated, always with the possibility of taking a step back.
Others were unwilling to make an effort without additional pay, expressing their demotivation with silence, flight into illness, or verbally aggressive. Working with the employees was comparatively like working with a pile of sand. Whenever someone she had built up had worked her way up, dared, the sand have to gave in with a smile.
At noon, Narmina fled when it wasn’t too hot. Out on the dusty streets, into the building noise to buy fruit, bread or food in one of the small shops. Of these shops, there were hundreds of shops scattered across the city on every small street corner; often only small covers, as glued to the house wall. Sometimes Narmina bought some cake from a baker, who handed her the parcel straight out of the bakery through a window out onto the street. A short distance down the street, four benches stood in front of two tables in the sunshine in front of a seemingly dilapidated building. Inside was a restaurant with surprisingly acceptable cuisine. A few times she had sat there in the sun before. Inside, businessmen mostly sat. Every now and then she made room by donning her red dress. The power of this color intimidated, she quickly realized. She loved this dress simply because she felt comfortable in it and didn’t see it as a message. Well, if it was also useful to protect her facade when it was exhausted. That was one of their little escapes. Sometimes Narmina hung on to a daydream in which she was alone, smelling the salty sea, getting out of the way of everything, her family, her boss, her thoughts, her daugh She was allowed to do everything That Narmina was not allowed to do. The son she had born for her husband was not easily accessible to her. The son who was a condition for their connection. Father and son experienced a lot together, played on the computer or watched football. When her husband wasn’t sitting in front of the TV, he chatted on Facebook or played on the PC. I have three children at home, she thought. Her husband had the time she lacked. As an independent lawyer, he was underutilized, partly because he worked mainly for the political opposition. His wealthy family had disinherited him after the marriage and excluded him from the privileges of the upper class. He had to leave the apartment where he had lived, lost his car and his share of the family fortune. When he met Narmina, he had been a rich man. He could afford everything at that time and lived in carefree luxury. Now he was no longer even able to feed his family. He can’t protect me, so I have to work, she said. Although not so under this pressure. It must have been love, otherwise it was unexplainable that he took this shame upon himself. They did not marry a divorced woman with a child. And to accept the loss of his wealth, yes, that was love. But love does not last forever when status and income are lost. In the evening, Narmina set off for this home. It was already after 7 p.m. and the driver had it easier now, because the traffic had already levelled off at that time. In the distance, the three high-rise buildings ignited in the play of light glowed near the promenade, before which the water features illuminated with changing colours glistened. Starbucks, KFC, McDonald’s added to the facade. With her boss on her ear, she entered the house. In the semi-darkness the screen flickered, the jerseys of two football teams hung on two chairs. A few half-full plates of leftovers from dinner and bowls of nuts were on the table. Narmina hated that. The nanny was now 65 years old, she couldn’t clean properly anymore. And she didn’t care, she knew that. For Dzhamil, the nanny was the right mother. She had been there for him every day for 12 years, playing with the boy, cooking his favorite dishes for him. If she were released, she would not even be able to visit. So Narmina cleaned himself. She did not endure stickiness and dirt, even in a small dose. Her husband did nothing. She had sent him off for shopping a few times, with the result that he called her more often from the store and asked what milk he should bring, how much fat it should have and what rice he had to take. Every other weekend he went to his mother. With his son. Narmina was never allowed to join. The mother-in-law worked consistently to get her son divorced. At just 40 years old, he would still be young enough to be able to afford to start a new family with a virgin with the help of his family fortune. But she also enjoyed being alone, but always accompanied by this trace of poison. After the housework on Saturday night, she showered, took her tablets and then tried to sleep. If she was lucky, she dreamed of her dream. As in heaven filled with weightlessness. Liberated from the earthly. Sometimes she didn’t seem to care what the way out of her life would be. Illusion, death or hope? Perhaps as in death with full consciousness, in the hereafter merged with the universe. In a space that is to come after all existence. Very close to God without being dead. At itself, in the blue sea on the Bosphorus. Alone, without family. She misses nothing, is simply herself in this dream and can shape her reality. No children, no husband, no mother-in-law. A small apartment and time to read a book on the beach. She herself is surprised at how easy it makes this thought of not missing anything in another place in another time.
The phone rang. It was Adil.