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They wait for me in Abkhazia

August 7, 2020
Mariam Gogokhia

Last time, I visited Abkhazia five years ago. Since then, not a day goes by without thinking about it, without missing the Abkhazian sky, for even a sky is special there. That starry sky in Abkhazia will take you on a journey of infinity. 

I’m a girl who is constantly missed by the family.  And I miss my grandparents who are left in Abkhazia, my older sister, and my many relatives, who are always waiting for me to arrive. I miss the house that was burned down during the war but through the efforts of my grandparents now it’s half-restored. 

I did not see the war.  As my parents kept telling me about Abkhazia every day, my love for this place was growing. I was raised in Tbilisi, but I met every New Year in Abkhazia, I spent every summer in the waves of the see there. Every visit there was special. Everyone met me there with a lot of love and with huge excitement. They were happy, that despite the separation, I was rushing towards them. My sweetest childhood memories come from Abkhazia.  I saw a lot of bitterness as well, but Abkhazia was worth it. 

As soon as the school holidays began, I would go to Abkhazia and stay there until mid-September.  The school there began on the first of September, and I would follow my relatives to the school where my father once studied. I was extremely happy when I would meet some of his teachers and they kept telling me what an outstanding student he was. I attended classes with my peers and I was glad that Georgian lessons were held every day. However, as the years went by, the hours for Georgian lessons became shortened. And now?! Now the local children only learn Georgian as an additional foreign language - only one hour a week. 

This year, during the quarantine period, Abkhazian Public School in Tbilisi developed a project – “Reach your voice to the students in Abkhazia" within the framework of Abkhazian Days. They also received letters in return. One of the students wrote: “I live in Abkhazia. I am a first-grader. Abkhazia is especially beautiful in May. Georgian is not taught at school, but my teacher and mother keep helping me. I already can write and read in Georgian. "Now I am in quarantine and I can no longer see my friends, I cannot go to Tbilisi to my cousins. I want everything to end soon and we should all be together." This letter gives me a hope and I am glad that there are still people who teach Georgian to children in Abkhazia. 

Today, not only Georgian but also the Abkhazian language is disappearing in Abkhazia, as it is also under the pressure of the Russian language.

Despite this resistance, the Georgian government and the Abkhazian ministries in exile must do everything possible to restore friendly relations between their Abkhazian and Georgian peers.

For Abkhazians, Georgia is as an abstraction like Abkhazia is for Georgia. Our phobias create big barriers. For my generation, these phobias are also abstract. When I was in Abkhazia, the elders used to advise not to have any communication with Abkhazians. Hence, I was afraid to go to that street, but I always wondered what they were like. I totally imagined them dressed in military uniform, with a gun in their hands. Years later, when I grew up and became braver, I no longer listened to my parents' warnings and went to their street, but found nobody there and I my curiosity could not be satisfied, as I was unable to find an Abkhazian friend.

Hopefully, our generation will be able to regain Abkhazia peacefully, through the reconciliation with the Abkhazian people.