In the footsteps of Abbasgulu

We all have different ways of searching for meaning in life. In doing so, we create personal narratives and build our own stories. My story is deeply intertwined with that of my grandpa, Abbasgulu’s life and publications. Unknowingly, he has left a legacy for me to follow and some big shoes to fill.

Abbas Abbasov

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Abbasgulu posing in the Navy uniform

The man in this black & white photograph is my grandpa, Abbasgulu Abbasov Razzakh oghlu. I was named after him because my father lost his parents at a very young age and wanted his children to be a reminder of them. Hence, my sister is also named after my grandmother, Zarifa. This essay is about that special bond I have with my grandpa.

I have never met Abbasgulu but grew up listening to so many memories of him retold by my father, my mother, our relatives that I feel like I know him. Yet as a kid I struggled with not being able to connect with my grandpa beyond his photographs and stories about him. Every time I looked at pictures of Abbasgulu, I saw a piece of myself in there. To this day, our relatives point out the resemblance between us, especially our similarity in stature and profile.

My grandpa grew up in Yayji, Nakhchivan, autonomous region of Azerbaijan. Abbasgulu used to live in the capital city of Nakhchivan with my grandma and his three children. He worked as a train machinist/locomotive engineer operating trains that ran between Julfa and Norashen, a part of the railroad that connected the Soviet Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

One of the stories that my father retold us many times when we were kids had to do with Abbasgulu’s articles published in the “Traction” journal, supposedly a very famous specialized Russian-language publication during the Soviet times. My father claimed that grandpa wrote to the journal about an emergency procedure he administered as an engineer and got his idea published in one of the issues of this journal. Apparently, Abbasgulu was credited for his ingenious finding. I really don’t know why but deep down I just couldn’t believe that my grandpa was a kind of person who could write articles and get published at such a prestigious place.

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Abbas Abbasov

PhD Student, Teachers College, Columbia University #highered #access #internationalization #postSoviet l lifelong learner, curious educator, outgoing introvert