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Observations by Clement Bailly – No. 4
Grandpa's Diaries

Published on the Website – - with permission from the author – Clement Bailly, grandson of Jeyhun Hajibeyli (1891-1962). Clement lives in Paris. Jeyhun was the younger brother of the composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov (1885-1948) who was in Paris with a government delegation of Azerbaijanis to sign the Versailles Treaty and to gain recognition for the newly established Azerbaijan Republic [1918-1920]. Tragically while he was out of the country, the Bolsheviks captured Baku in 1920, making it impossible for him ever to return. [He was 31 at the time]. He was forced to live out the rest of his life in bitter exile in Europe.

The following is email correspondence between Clement and Betty Blair, Editor of Azerbaijan International and of on November 28, 2001.
Chère Betty,

I spent last Sunday and Monday [Nov 25-26, 2001] reading Grandpa’s writings in his small notebooks. They were written in French, but I had to struggle with his handwriting. (Maybe it’s because he grew up writing in the Arabic script and then later Cyrillic). He wrote a lot about his dreams and stuff in those diary notebooks. He writes that he used to dream of Uzeyir quite often and of one of his sisters, too. Don't know which one. Small details. He says things like: "I had a dream about my brother Uzeyir" or "I had a dream about my sister". Nothing more. No explanations. Anyway, I am still working on this "dream stuff". Trying to complete the puzzle.

He almost never speaks about memories of Azerbaijan. Hardly any other word about his brothers and sisters. Occasionally, there’s a slight reference to Shusha [town in Karabakh, Azerbaijan, where he spent his childhood]. Disappointing.

I am now totally convinced that Uzeyir and Jeyhun were afraid to speak about each other in fear of retaliation. [Remember those were the years of the height of Stalin’s Repression when thousands of intellectuals were imprisoned, exiled or killed].

I wish I had time to translate everything for you into English. I will send you some of his “best comments” soon. For example, Grandpa drops hints here and there about his personal and political feelings: For example, he wrote:

(1) "Czar Nicholas was important for me and Stalin looks like one of my cousins” (This is Grandpa's sense of humor. Obviously, the statement is intended to be satirical - because he wrote many vehement articles against both of them).

(2) “I was raised by my grandmother, I didn’t know my mother very well."

(3) “I think that as long as I am banned from Azerbaijan, my relatives will be in jeopardy and have problems."

(4) “Funny, I have problems with French censorship about my anti-communist articles: we’re supposed to be on the same side."

(5) “All the contacts with my family have been broken since I left.”

I discovered also that Grandpa Jeyhun listened to radio broadcasts from Moscow. He had access to newspapers published in Moscow through the French National Library and the French Foreign Office Minister.

I also found out that in 1918, when clashes broke out in the city of Baku between Azerbaijani forces and Shaumian's Armenians [Dashnaks and Bolsheviks] that Grandpa was firing at them from the balconies. [The fighting was ferocious, an estimated 10,000 Azeris, many civilians, were killed those days in March].

In the “Caucasian Review [published in Munich], in the article that Grandpa Jeyhun wrote about “The 1958 Jubilee of Leyli and Majnun”, he is very, very lenient with the Soviet authority. He just mentions that the “brothers Uzeyir and Jeyhun are the authors of the work”. He doesn’t say, “I did it with my brother.” The question is: “Did he write that out of respect, or out of fear? Who knows? (Actually, he was very upset that his role in the creation of “Leyli and Majnun” had been supressed and forgotten because of his political affiliations and because he was living in exile outside the country). He always refers to himself as Jeyhun in his articles [not "I"]. There are more examples.

The same problem exists today: I already mentioned earlier that in Azerbaijan today, the Soviet legacy still weighs down heavily. Only young people can talk about it. The older people never mention it – it’s sort of a natural inclination and old habit with them - not to say anything.

It seems the need to be secretive and not express true feelings is still strong. This past , did you see the Afghan Talibans shaking hands with the people that were their dreaded enemies the day before? That’s so difficult for us to understand.

When I was in Baku [week of November 8, 2001], nobody brought up the topic about how Grandpa fought so hard against communism. [Yet that was one of his consuming drives while living in exile.]

I’m rewriting Grandpa’s biography. Looks like the “Danaid’s Barrel” – Like the Greek legendary women who were condemned to keep trying to fill up a barrel that had no bottom in it!

Well, I'm trying to slip into Grandpa's skin to understand what the situation was like for him to be living in exile away from Azerbaijan.

Hope your next Azerbaijan International magazine [AI 9.4] is getting into good shape.

November 28, 2001

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