BY VERGINIE TOULOUMIAN
For someone who loves to yell and give punishments to misbehaving kids, I needed to be very gentle and calm while dealing with the Orange group in Shushi who is made up of the most quiet and well-behaved young kids. Having a discussion with them about how Artsakh War affected them and their families was kind of a difficult topic. But, soon after I wrote the question on the board, there was already hands up in the air from impatient kids who wanted to speak up and share their experiences. A couple of people began to talk about their family members who had fallen for the cause.
A young girl by the name of Narine Khachikyan, told us about her family being from Iran. She began to tell us how her father left Iran 18 years ago and came to Karapagh to be part of the history of this country. When the war ended Zaven settled in a house in the newly liberated city of Shushi. A week ago, for the first time in 18 years, Zaven visited his birthplace and saw his mother. It had been 18 years, since the son had seen his mother. Stories such as this are very common in this city, but unfortunately not all have the same happy ending like the Khachikyan family.
When I asked why it’s important to fight for Artsakh’s freedon, a quiet girl who usually only talks to me when she needs advice about her boyfriend, expressed that everyone needs to feel obligation and get out to fight because after all they are protecting their own land, their own family and their own homeland. It was a big surprise to see that the majority of the girls chose to be on the battlefield rather than stay back to heal the wounds of the soldiers. Only 2 people out of our entire class chose to heal wounds by becoming a doctor or nurse.
Mariam Askaryan is a 14-year old young lady has aspirations to become the first female President of Artsakh. Mariam has a lot of potential, courage, and for the past month has been trying to convince her dad to let her join the Army to serve her country. She has always thought about the possibility of another war starting. She knows that she should always hope for the best, but she has promised herself that she will ready on the battlefield whenever her homeland calls for her help. It irritates her that there is a white separation in the tricolor flag that hangs above her bed. That fact gives her inspiration to get up every morning and do everything possible so that one day there will be one flag that will connect Artsakh, Armenia, Javakhk, and Western Armenia together.
This country is full of stories that our fresh in their minds and to this day affects them every day. There are many untold stories, unhealed wounds and scars, soldiers who are in another world, and an unfinished war. But, this city has hope, dedication and will. It has people that dedicate themselves for their homeland. And most importantly they have a passionate new generation that will protect their everything even with their own blood. They are the hope for a free, independent and a united Armenia.