The veil between generations
For many years I have felt that there’s a gap between generations, there’s always “us and them.”
I decided to find out what makes us feel separated from the previous generation: Why do we build a wall and refer to each other as “others”.
In this project, I explore an Azerbaijani saying “ana ilə qızın arasında pərdə olmalıdır” which means “there should be a veil between a mother and her daughter.”
Eight women living in Baku, Antalya and Istanbul - four pairs of mothers and daughters, aged 21 to 74 - answered my question and spoke about how they understand the concept “pərdə (veil).” Over the course of the project, I learned how to communicate with people who are older than me without the feeling as if there were a barrier between us. As the project progressed, I saw different relationships between mothers and their daughters and began to understand their opinions and positions. And then, when I was ready, toward the end of the project, life brought me to my mother, to another country, to ask her this question and complete the cycle, finally removing the barrier that stood between me and an adult generation of “others.”
Jala Najafova, 28, daughter
For me, this is a thin line between the whole truth about yourself and the part of the truth your elders are ready to accept. And if you or one of your loved ones is not ready to live with this side of you then, in order to protect them and their love for you, it is better not to cross this line.
Irada Azimova, 50, mother
«Veil» - this is something that does not allow parents and their children to know each other.
Since there is a 19-20 year age difference between me and my daughters, the veil we have is very thin. I'm like an older friend when everything is OK, but when one of them experiences a pinch in the pit of their stomach, I turn on the <mother> function
Farida Madatova, 45, daughter
This veil is the result of feeling judged. If I come and tell a loved one something, and in response I get a ton of condemnation, of course, next time I will stay silent. It is how this barrier appears. I do not judge my children. As a result, I have an open, trusting relationship with them. There is another point - life wisdom, morals.. You need to know where and how to behave, in what society and with whom you are free to behave as you like. There are things that are acceptable for Europeans but unacceptable in our country, and I am comfortable with that. This is also a kind of barrier, the particular rules of the game. This is neither bad nor good, this is the way it is.
Mahira Valiyeva, 74, mother
«Pərdə» comes from our mentality. This is how we were raised from generation to generation. This is respect, a desire not to upset the person you love. You do what you do, but keep it for yourself if someone would not appreciate it. And even though that person knows, everyone always knows everything, they do not speak to you about it; they pretend that they do not know. But the main thing is to do what you want to do in spite of everything. This is freedom.
Mirai Gözəlova, 21, daughter
I think if there is no sincerity between people, then there is a veil. One must first be sincere with themselves. A person who is fully aware of themselves, and is partially free from complexes, will not need to cover themselves with a veil. If we understand the veil in the sense of respect, respect is always needed - not only between generations, but also for ourselves. In my perspective, this veil is just disbelief or fear. In fact, if a person understands themselves and their surroundings, they will not need to reveal the differences between the generations, nor need to maintain a veil between anyone.
Afet Sultanova, 40, mother
Whether we like it or not, the veil between the generations has always been and will always be. To put it simply, the house, the school, the time, the place where we grew up - they are all different. Of course, it is normal to be different and, as a result, to have the veil. In general, I think that there should be a veil (etiquette, respect, love) between people, not just between generations. Although young people deny the existence of the veil today, if we look at reality, this veil has been, is and will always be (at least a thin one). I believe that the time will come for you, young people, and you will want this veil between you and the new generation.
Bircan Nağıyeva, 21, daughter
In my opinion, the "veil" is not just between generations, but, if we look at the issue more fundamentally, it is the boundary between people, regardless of age, gender or religion. It is the fear and reluctance people have to share their feelings and thoughts. This is the real problem. The so-called «pərdə» is with everyone near and far. I want the time to come when we can share our thoughts and ideas without hiding behind veils. In my radio programs, I have repeatedly said that a person's heart and mind should speak the same language and be friends. Even so, that is still beyond the reach of the average person. At the end of the road, the sun will be strong and will warm you. You will not want to close that veil against the sun's rays. If we can go that way with our hearts and minds, if we can do that, no emotion we feel, no thought that comes to our mind will be able to hurt another person. We will be so pure and clean. After all, that is the true purpose of life. In fact, the path we are on is a path of self-return. Just think, there is no such thing as a «veil» in a child's mind, everything is open and simple. Trust and love for people are basic feelings and a child is not afraid, does not draw boundaries with anyone. That's how it is. We must be like kids so when this curtain opens, we will be able to recognize each other.
Gulnara Askerova, 53, mother
This veil is a person's private space. This space exists for everyone and in relation to everyone - this is not only a matter of generations.
This is the unwillingness to see nakedness and, consequently, the insecurity of our own children, those whom we have brought into this world, which we have created - a completely imperfect world.
Therefore, you need to protect this veil in order not to scare this butterfly that has trusted you, and not inadvertently disturb the subtle and unique pattern of its wings.
During this project, my own understanding of this concept fundamentally changed: the veil fell and I saw the light. “Pərdə” is our fear of being frank, too open, too sincere - even with our closest and dearest people. These are traumas and complexes that are passed on from generation to generation, this is a struggle with oneself in order not to be condemned in the eyes of others. “Pərdə” is the fear of being judged and misunderstood. The fear of being yourself.
Everything exists in our head, even this “pərdə.” Understanding that there’s no such thing as “others” will help us embrace healthy and harmonious communication with the people around us and, of course, ourselves.