Today I would like to write about a story in my family. Coincidentally, there was a radio program dedicated to Sattarkhan who was a freedom fighter for Azerbaijanis in Iran. I listened to this program with my grandfather. And he remembered his relative who was from Ardabil which is also can be called South Azerbaijan and began to talk about this story.

In fact this person is a very famous composer and musician Ali Salimi(1922-1997) who is very popular for his Ayriliq ( Separation), Size salam getirmisem( I brought greetings) songs. He was born in Baku and when he left his homeland he was nearly 17…

My grandfather had recorded interview with him, his songs to the tapes. As I listened to these tapes and heard his story, i decided to dedicate my article for Ali Salimi and Mursal Javad’s honors.

Ali Salimi.jpg

İnitially, I would like to give little historical information about the events. In 1813, Azerbaijan was separated into two pieces while Russia received northern part and Iran acquired southern part with Gulustan Treaty. Since that time, there is an ayriliq (separation) among azerbaijanis and each part of Azerbaijan had had different destiny. But one thing was common. Always we missed for each other. Baku longed for Tabriz, while Tabriz for Baku and today it is the same. After USSR’s occupation of Azerbaijan in 1920, it was banned to have links with our southern Azerbaijanis. USSR leader Stalin made things worse in 1938 when he required all of these southern Azerbaijanis to receive a passport and to obey Soviet rules, otherwise, these people should leave Azerbaijan. Ali Salimi’s father was from Ardabil and they left Azerbaijan with deep sorrow, yearning and sadness…

My family lost their contacts and communication with them unfortunately due to political situation and circumstances. My grandfather went to bid farewell to Ali Salimi’s family when he was only 6 and this separation deeply affected to him and he did not forget and wished to have an opportunity again to meet with his relatives. He never forgot that moment…

Ali Seliminin vizitkarti
Ali Salimi’s visitcard. He gave it to my grandfather in 1991.

My grandfather Mursal Javad was a journalist  working in Azerbaijani Radio in 1991. There was a program which was called Körpü(Bridge) on the radio. My grandfather remembered very well how his relatives were forced to live Baku in 1938 and he wanted to find his relatives in Iran. Thus he decided to try his chance for finding his relatives and my grandfather participated on this program Körpü and gave information about their relatives and hoped that with this program he would be able to find a contact about them. After several weeks he received a letter from Iran which was written by Ali Salimi himself. My grandfather sent a reply to this letter and the link was created between them It became obvious that Ali Salimi missed his homeland enormously and wanted to come to Azerbaijan as soon as possible. My grandfather began to apply several places in order to get permission grants for Ali Salimi. Unfortunately, there were problems, but after that Ali Salimi was granted a permission to come Azerbaijan for participating in Iranian exhibition in Baku. Initially, his son Yashar came to Baku to my grandfather’s house. Yashar informed that his father was also coming with his orchestra in two days. After 2 days, my grandfather was able to meet with Ali Salimi and he was back to these lands after leaving 53 years…

Veteran jurnalist Mursel Cavad
Veteran journalist Mursal Javad.

Ali Salimi came to my grandfather’s house. They began to talk about past memories and about their lives after forced separation between them. One of the most interesting topics of their conversations was about Azerbaijani music – mugham. Ali Salimi told about his memories about the meeting with famous Azerbaijani singer Rashid Behbudov in Iran. With Ali Salimi’s permission, Rashid Behbudov came back to Baku and sang his famous song Ayriliq, Size salam getirmisem. Also, they had talked about the fates and discographies of Azerbaijani composers in Iran, notably Mirseyid Mirbabayev.

He was very happy and finally relieved to see the lands which he saw last time 53 years ago. Though, it was a tumultuous period for Azerbaijan, USSR collapsed recently, government was weak and Azerbaijan-Armenia tensions rose up and they hit a helicopter in November 20, 1990 at the Qarayazi village. Some of the top government officials and journalists were killed. After 9 days of that bloody event, Ali Salimi came to Baku.  On one hand, tt was a joy for him and ayriliq(separation) ended. On the other hand, other ayriliqs continued on Karabakh, Azerbaijan at that tvime…

Ali Salimi wanted to buy a tar(National musical instrument of Azerbaijan) from Azerbaijan. He and my grandfather asked a valuable and precious tar for the composer in Balakhani – Baku’s village. After 5 days, Ali Salimi bought his ordered tar and after coming back to my grandpa’s home, Ali Salimi began to perform on the tar. My grandfather proudly told that the tar is very good and composer replied: Tar is good, but performer is also good. Ali Salimi performed several songs such as Ayriliq, Size Salam Getirmisem, etc at their home. My grandfather recorded all these songs and conversations to the tapes. As I listened to them, I witnessed how a composer can express deep sorrow, inside feelings so marvelously, deeply in his music. Every touch of his fingers to the tar created another masterpiece and fantasy and took to the problems and ayriliq and roots of the song.

Ali Salimi holding the tar in his hand in front of the piano.

In one of his interviews to Azerbaijani journalist Reyhan Rustamova he told that he was going to compose a song Vusal( joy) about his arrival to his homeland. Unfortunately, composer was not able to come Baku second time and he could not compose, he was ill and died few years later in 1997…

His dream realized, he was able to come to Baku and give a concert for the music-lovers. It was a watershred event in Azerbaijani music history, finally, ayriliq was over and he came back to his home after leaving 53 years… Today, situation is much better and people can go more easily to Iran and vice-versa for meeting his family, relatives and friends. But still we long for Tabriz, Ardabil, Urmiya and our southern lands, brothers and sisters, because we are one nation, we speak the same language. Hopefully, there will not be another tragedies among our Azerbaijanis. This letter to the South was created by being vastly impressed by the my grandfather’s tape-recordings. I was deeply influenced and wanted to share this story with my readers.

Sincerely, Tofiq Bayramov(Wiz34)



2 thoughts on “A letter from South.

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