The Digital Journalist
Reza / Webistan
Azerbaijan. Caspian Sea. 1997: Her tears flew on her bruised face and her voice, sometimes soft, yet strident, was like a never-ending litany. I can still hear her lament. On this particular day, despair was stronger than the effort to survive. A 65-year-old lady, she was crying like a child, her little part of land polluted by oil, where nothing was growing. She surprised me amidst the desperation of that forest of rusted iron, in which I was trying to make my way among abandoned junk cars, trash cans, flocks of hungry goats led by an old silent and bent over shepherd, pieces of plastic twirling in the wind, and dry, tall grass. I was looking for an image to capture knowing that another one might surprise me. Behind the creaking of the few operating wells, I imagined the regular dance of those steel horses that, at the dawn of the 20th century, pumped the black gold from Azerbaijan's generous soil, profiting the well-off families of this world. That was before the long Soviet years paralyzed an activity that was very productive at the time. In her exodus, running away the war against Armenia, this woman had found refuge at Baku's doors, in a ruined hut, forgotten in what looked like nothing.