Afag Masud: “In the future more difficult time could lie ahead, and we have to be ready for anything”


Our next interviewee during the quarantine period is People’s Writer, Chairman of the Board of the Azerbaijan State Translation Centre, full member of the Peter Russian Academy (PANI) Afag Masud.


Mrs. Afag, what would you say about the coronavirus, which has paralyzed the rhythm of the world and public life, what are your feelings?

- Like everyone, I also follow what is going on. Mass casualties, families forced to walk from one country to another, their homes, corpses put into ditches and buried, and, of course, this is horrible. The current situation has demonstrated that not every country was ready for such extreme situations, even the most developed countries continue to be helpless in the face of such a pandemic and continue to remain in a stalemate. I think that during this global pandemic, every Azerbaijani felt the strength and ability of his state to stay behind its people, its citizen, how it protects them in the most hopeless time and from the most unexpected dangers. Concerning the virus, it is not only a threat to human life, at the same time people already feel its very strange - spiritual and healing mission. First of all, it is very important and necessary to rescue the World from global dangers procreated by human being activities, such as poisoning and rape of nature, restore its calmness of healthy eternal time, return back its naturalness, to separate the society from the struggle for life, from endless, unconscious social contests and return it to the previous situation; they are all very important problems, and today we are witnessing these problems.

About my feelings I can say that I feel a strange space, freedom filled with light. I feel that the world is becoming more transparent, and mysterious changes begin in the atmosphere. Everything changes. I understand that what is valued up today is going to lose its value, giving way to something else, which we have not yet figured out to the end. In fact, these changes have already begun for a long time now. The acceleration of time that we have felt for years, global climate changes, floods and earthquakes, tsunamis and so on still tell humanity that the Earth is tired of its actions, and its evil deeds.

At such moments, the support and advice of the top officials and leading representatives of the community are important for people. What advice would you give to our compatriots?

- First of all, I’d like to state that the virus is dangerous, of course, but not more dangerous than taking away the livelihood of compatriots, bombing cities from one continent to another, killing thousands of innocent people and children, and turning money into a human value, a cult and drawing society into immorality. In the future, we may face even greater difficulties. We must be ready for everything. Jesus, the Prophet said, “Words delight a man.” In other words, materiality, property, money, wealth have never conditioned the essence of the inner world of human, they have never been the food for human spiritual life, they have done it artificially. First of all, this must be understood. Try to take full advantage of the isolation, know yourself as you are, think deeply about the future of your country, your people, about what you can do for the future you wish to see. Understand the intentions and actions of our state, our president. All truths are revealed in difficult moments, in extreme situations. In this difficult situation that the world faces, I would advise to highly appreciate our President, who turned his country into rescue ship, managed to be close to his people and, in the full sense of the word, became a true father for them.

- How do you spend your time in the quarantine regime, and do you work at new works?

-  It is not yet possible to write any literary piece. There are unfinished works that I have to finish one day. At present, I mainly work on the Spelling Dictionary of the Azerbaijani Language. Perfectly compiled linguistic book is needed like air for everyone - from the grassroots to writers. After the prohibition of the previous spelling dictionary, which was full of errors and omissions, in 2017 the Centre published a compact, but stylistically and orthographically improved “Practical Azerbaijani Spelling Dictionary.” At present, we have compiled a large, classic spelling dictionary, and the last preparatory process  for publication is going on. Unlike its predecessors, the dictionary will contain no more than a thousand words with errors or multiple variants, completely archaic Arabic, Persian and other foreign expressions, as well as more than 40 000 “strange words” like “ambırağız”, “buynuzaməxsus”, “bəstiqoyma”, “çartıltısızlıq”, “çətvər-çətvər”, “cırrıtgetmə”, “çəhrayıolma”, “elm-helm”, “eşşəkbelisındırma”, “hüduddaş”, “dodaqaltıazaylanma”, “kvartet-poema”, “dız-dızoynama”, “hürufatölçən”, “növəmələgətirmədənqalma”, “onixiyayatutulma”, “paravəziyyət”, “şarnirvarılıq”, “şineldənçıxma”, “tabloiflic”, “turna-turna”, “qiymət-franko”, “qutluayaq”, “qutluəl”, “lirik-rəqsvarılıq”, “müsibət-ölüm”, “nüvəcik-nüvə”, “oynaşıolma”, “paqdumluq”, “par-partsalan”, “paravəziyyət”, “sitatyoxlama”, “şarnirvarılıq”, “troykaçı”, “tunel-sıçrayış”, “palazqapma”, “portativolma” and many others.

- What would you recommend readers to read, including your own books?

- Back in the 2000s, in one of my interviews, I said that “the person who is the main subject of literature has turned old.” And the processes taking place in the world today - from the economy to the systems of human relations and values, global catastrophes that we are witnessing around - show that the world has turned really old, handled its place to a new one. Of course, this process of global renewal doesn’t pass away without impact on the literature that studies the human being and his/her inner world. Today we are witnessing the fact that many works that we had valued as “classical literature” for many years and centuries did not withstand this fateful, decisive test, became old as means of information and therefore failed. At the same time, we feel that a strange, completely new value system has emerged, and we can accurately identify works and their authors that we once called “timeless” and “immortal.” These authors are, first of all, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov and Gogol. And as a continuation of this list, we can add the names of such writers as Franz Kafka, Faulkner, Camus, Marquez, Borges, Akutagawa, François Mauriac and others.

As for my works, I’m leaving that decision up to my readers. I think they will find something interesting at the moment of extreme renewal and isolation.

Interview produced by Ulviyye Shain