Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
Institute of Literature named after Nizami Ganjavi


The tragedy of Nami, or the death of a woman abroad - Abid Tahirli

31-10-2022 [ 15:11 ] [ read:121 ]
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Banin, better known in our country as "French writer of Azerbaijani origin", is one of the talented representatives of our emigrant literature. People's writer, prominent critic Elchi's conclusion that "when writing about the 20th century Azerbaijani literature, the completeness of the general artistic picture is harmed by the Banin factor" ("Literaturnaya gazeta", July 26, 1989) makes a deep, comprehensive investigation and evaluation of the writer's legacy urgent. People's writer Anar in one of his interviews (in memory of Ramiz Abutalibov. "525-ci Gazet", 11.01.2022) says that he invited Bani to our country through Ramiz Abutalibov on the eve of Mirza Fatali Akhundov's jubilee in Baku in 1987, and brings to the readers' attention Bani's reply to him: " I was encouraged by your suggestion to participate in M.F. Akhundov's jubilee. I am well aware of his greatness and services both in the fields of literature and philosophy. He is the first Azerbaijani writer whose works were translated into French, and I am proud to continue his work to some extent." In that letter, Banin writes that for some reasons he cannot accept the offer now, at the same time, he emphasizes that "it would be great if my visit to my native places took place in the spring." People's writer Anar further says in the interview: "Unfortunately, one of Mrs. Ummulbanu's dreams could not come true. She died shortly after this letter. I should also say that even though she was away from her homeland for many years, when the Karabakh events started, Banin defended the cause of Azerbaijan in the French press. he had published several articles". Banin, who left his homeland in 1924 at the age of 24, is immersed in the French lifestyle, literary and cultural environment, but an Azerbaijani spirit also flows from his heart and pen...

So far, three of Bani's 11 books, "Caucasus Days", "Paris Days" and "Nami" have been translated and published. The first two works were translated by Hamlet Gojayev and published by "Khan" publishing house in 2007 and "Qanun" publishing house in 2019. "Nami" (Baku, "Qanun" publishing house, 2022, 176 pages) published under the signature of the writer "Banine Thillet" (Thillet is the surname of Bani's second husband (T.A)) was translated into our language by Chimnaz Valiyeva, Azer wrote the "Foreword" to the novel. Nami, published in 1942, is Bani's first book, heralding his great creative journey.

Whether the work is a novel or a memoir by genre is not a subject of debate. It is true that there are some facts that remind us of Bani's life path, such as the fact that she is the daughter of an oil entrepreneur, that she spent her entire childhood under the care of a French nanny, that she saw with her own eyes the atrocities committed by Armenians in Baku, that she escaped with her family from the persecution of the Bolsheviks to Iran, that she was closely acquainted with the life of Paris, and that she had love affairs. but all this does not mean that the work is autobiographical. At the same time, it should be noted that a number of events and facts mentioned in the work are also found in the author's autobiographical novel "Caucasus Days" written 4 years later in 1946. This work of Bani, who deeply mastered Azerbaijani, Russian and Western literature, followed the literary process of the time, maintained close contact with French and immigrant Russian writers, and was familiar with classical and contemporary literary trends, is an example of realistic prose mixed with emotional, dramatic and romantic feelings.

"Nami" in two parts has an interesting plot line and a simple composition. The first part was written on the basis of the diary written by Nami, a graduate of the Sorbonne University, from January 1916 to March 1919, and the second part was written on the basis of the author's suggestion. The content of the work is based on Nami's life story. In the first part of the novel, Nami writes in her diary that her father, who lost gambling and went into debt, made her "one of the rare Muslims", "civilized in behavior and appearance", "a strong gambler", "polite but also incomprehensible", "passionate", "stately" in order to pay off his debts. ", despite all this, the "strong gambler" Murad, whom I "get bored of", "disdain", wants to marry and "sell". Murad has two daughters and a son from his first wife, who were brought up by French and German tutors and were cared for day and night by his servants. But what worries Nami is that Murad is neither old, nor married before, nor has three children. Murad's family's way of life and thinking arouses disgust in Nami: this family works for two goals in life: to earn money and to maliciously oppose all civility. Nami is not at all interested in Murad's property and money, on the contrary, it "makes her sick". But Nami has no other way out, she has to marry Murad. Nami narrates: "Otherwise, my father will turn my life into hell. What's the point of holding a grudge because I didn't save him, he'll hate me. If I say, come on, let's change our lifestyle and reduce our expenses, you should quit gambling and get a job, it'll be worth it".

In the second part of the novel, the author's incitement fascinates, excites, makes the reader think, keeps him waiting: the Bolsheviks overthrew the People's Republic, persecutions and arrests began. "... now everything has come to an end - the republic, our property, maybe even ourselves. I don't understand why the Bolsheviks haven't caught me yet?" - Murad, one of the former ministers of the independent republic, says in panic, thinking about leaving the country one step faster. Nami is also sad and concerned. But he does not think about the events taking place in society, but rather about his personal destiny, his dreams that have been crushed, complains, grieves and "thinks bitterly". When he found out that the Bolsheviks raided the house next door, Murad wasted no time, "the scoundrels will kill me too, I have to run away" - he asked Nami for the gold in the box. The key is not found, the lock is not opened, Nami is excited, after all, the notebook with notes that she hates her father, Murad, even wished him dead, was madly beaten by an Englishman named X., and made love to him, is also open. Murad, impatient, took the gun and disappeared. Soon after, the commissars entered the apartment, started questioning, they asked Murad. They search the apartment all night long, turn the house upside down, and make holes in all the things with the barrel of the rifles. As soon as he touches Nami's attractive body, the "boss" who has a desire to possess the woman arises, but Nami, who objects to him, kicks him and stuffs jewelry into his pocket...

After two days, his gardener Ferdovsi informs Nami that the issue of Murad's transfer to Iran has been resolved, but he wants to see you before he leaves. The meeting between Nami and Murad is one of the intense scenes of the novel and serves to fully reveal the features of both characters and clearly convey the author's intention. Reading Nami's diary, Murad was not the same as before, his eyes, lips, facial expression had changed, even "his nose was not the same". Banin writes: "This anger erupted in a terrible and unexpected way. Murad spat in the face of Nami, who ran in front of him, and growled: "Dirty whore, vile woman, gahba..." The words came out of Murad's mouth like poisonous drops and hit Nami's face, nauseating her heart. It wasn't death... You might say you married me because of your father's debts. . I'm not talking about my father's debts yet." He could not stop Murad's monologue full of curses and insults to Namin and his father. Finally, Murad said that he would take the children and go to Iran and from there to Paris, and at the end he kicked Nami in the head and did not forget to give advice: "If you have started adultery, don't let it go, you will find men as bad as me... Maybe you will forget it and give me death." you wished (T.A. points to Nami's diary), I wish you the same".

Nami did not recover from this painful meeting with Murad for some time, she fell ill and went to bed. As soon as he stood up, his previous dream came true again: "All his dreams were directed to the West, these dreams took him to the countries he loved, both his name and himself, but he ended up at the same point of the Earth in Paris." Nami decides to go first to Moscow, then to St. Petersburg, from there to Finland, and then to Paris. Nami, who set out to go to Moscow without money and without a ticket, accidentally meets the "boss" who came to inspect their apartment following Murad's footsteps. Nami, who gets on the train with his help, no longer resists the boss, she fulfills all his wishes, albeit reluctantly, they drink, have fun, and get into the same bed. It was hunger and gratuitousness that condemned Nami to endure these sufferings and tied her hands and feet: "...thanks to punches, kicks, shameful sexual relations, Nami was full every day." With great difficulty, Nami escapes from the apartment with the intention of going to St. Petersburg, avoiding the control of the "boss", whom she considers "a bridge to Moscow". He cannot buy a ticket for the train, somehow he climbs on the locomotive, and with all his might, he puts himself in the driver's cabin. The driver takes pity on the "poor girl kneeling in the coal dust and begging" and takes her with him to St. Petersburg...

Nami, who came to St. Petersburg with great hopes, is also disappointed here: she does not find any of her old acquaintances. The starving woman begins her street life again: "Hunger was more painful than her new "profession", even more difficult." More than a month has passed since Nami arrived in St. Petersburg, but she still hasn't managed to save enough money to buy a ticket to go to Finland... The next time she goes out on the street to "sell her body", she meets a Frenchman. Nami's perfect command of the French language, her education in Paris, her fragility, her sweet voice, her culture, and now that she embarked on a corrupt path in order to buy a ticket to go to Paris deeply affect the Frenchman, he gives Nami more money than he needs and speaks involuntarily: " Oh my God, I'm so happy!"

Nami travels by train from St. Petersburg to a town on the Finnish border. You have to walk the rest of the way and cross the border. Despite her headache and increasing fever, Nami thought, "I can't fall anymore," and she walked tiredly and tirelessly through the fir forest covered with snow flakes for a while, not paying attention to the cold and raining snow. But it doesn't last long. Nami's body "slipped gracefully down the trunk of the tree she was leaning on and landed on the snow." The novel ends with this sentence: "One snowflake fell on her shoulder. But Nami was no longer moving".

Nami is as complex a character as she is interesting. While she is unable to protest against her father, who married her to a man she did not love, who in fact "sold" her, she seems to rebel against the environment in which she lives, traditional living and moral rules, old-fashioned people, she is ready to go through everything to get away from society and go to Paris, she does not even hesitate to sell her body or die. . Nami's way of thinking and life serves to fully and clearly convey the author's motto, the idea of the work: Man should live freely, freedom should not be limited. National moral values, traditions, even religion, language should not be tied to love and affection.

Throughout the work, Bani's love for Nami, his fascination with Paris and his emphasis on Parisians can be felt. He is trying with all the power of his pen to get Nami out of Baku, where oil lords and poor people live together, where luxurious palaces and flat huts are side by side, and where "strict Islamic rules" rule, and take him to Paris. One of the characters that the author works with love is the Parisian lady Marie Deschamps. She is the guardian of Murad's daughters, shares their joys and sorrows as a member of the family to which she is deeply attached. With a strong sense of humor, Marie Deschamps is caring, loyal, generous. Marie Deschamps befriends Nami, who "suffers from spiritual loneliness." Although the young Frenchman whom Nami meets on the street in St. Pererbug to sell his body is an episodic character, Bani's description leaves an unforgettable impression on the reader. The young Frenchman considers himself lucky to lend a helping hand to the desperate Nami, who is preparing for a long trip.

The novel can also be called a "gallery of conflicting images". Although Nami's father says, "I want my daughter to be a free-thinking, independent girl, not a slave", he takes care of her daughter's education, wants her to dress well and live well, but he forcibly marries her to someone he doesn't want for the sake of money. Murad takes care of his children, betrays his wife and spends his days gambling. Murad's sisters, who "know the Russian language very well", smoke cigarettes, scream, "all three have poison vests and worms". However, Murad's sister named Süreyya helps and cares for Nami during her worst times, when she is sick. Murad's brother, Gochu Asad, is one of the gochus whose "work consists of sometimes protecting oil millionaires and sometimes killing them" for money. Gochu Assad pays serious attention to the education and upbringing of his daughters. They play classical music on the piano. Murad's father-in-law, oil god Aga Taghi, "is so smart that he shaves wool from eggs", "he patches and wears his boots until they wear out and fall apart". Although Aga Taghi owns the largest oil fields in Baku, he does not send his only son to Switzerland for treatment, and his son dies of tuberculosis. His images are mostly remembered for their negative aspects. However, he sends scholarships to students studying in Moscow and Petersburg.

In the novel, the dramatic scenes about the Armenian brutality in Baku shed light on the real picture of the period. Nami writes in his diary that the aim of the Armenians is to destroy the Tatars by using all kinds of tactics. Noting that gunshots were heard, lights were cut off, telephones were not working, anxiety was gradually increasing, and the city was in chaos, Nami added the following to her diary: "It was not yet known whether the armed groups were Armenians or Bolsheviks, perhaps both of them would return to the house at any time. they could be penetrated".

Nami is a Parisian, but sometimes she shows a little sense of attachment to the Motherland. When he saw the garden of the house where he escaped from the Bolshevik persecution and took refuge in Rasht, he joked that "these places remind us of our gardens that are far away". Nami, who expressed that she "can't stand living in a foreign country" - "lives with the desire to get rid of Iran, to return to Baku, to get back to her old life. When she heard the news that the Turks had cleansed her "dear, native" Baku of Armenian-Bolshevik bandits, she did not hide her joy: " So, we can go back." Nami, who wrote in her memory book that she had been waiting for Baku for a long time, was afraid that she would face a new danger on her way back and that she would not be allowed to enter the city. "We would either return to Baku and be happy, or we would join the horror of emigration," she thinks sadly. and Nami evaluates as "threw us to the peak of dizzying happiness". From Nami's diary: "The Caucasus completely separated from Russia, which was in turmoil, and established its own independent states. Now we are citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan, whose capital is Baku". This confirms that Nami is inseparable from his lineage and roots, and although he breathes the love of Paris, he is not alien to the love of the Motherland. In our opinion, the translation of Bani's other works and a more detailed study of his heritage are urgent issues facing our literary studies.