BY ARMINE KALBAKIAN
We flock to the only hair salon we find within walking distance. We are greeted by amused ladies, amused by our origins and our hair styling needs. They offer a series of services we don’t quite ask for.
The manicurist removes her gaze from her dark coffee, looks me dead in the eyes, motions over her face, and seriously inquires “maquillage”? After convincing her that I only want a blow-out, one of the ladies, Suzan, begins to wash my hair. She makes small talk about my studies and career aspirations. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
When she begins to blow dry my hair, she discovers my split ends. She informs me with a whisper and the utmost look of concern on her face. I assure her that it is alright and that — if need be — I will return to have them trimmed. A minute later, I hear a barely audible snipping behind my head. “Tetev tserk oonem.” I laugh. A light hand.
She asks me if we are scared to visit this land. I tell her no. She explains that her son served in the army for two years. I hold my breath. A heavy heart. It skips a beat fearing her next words. “Then he returned home.” I breathe. Suzan smiles. She also has a daughter, newly admitted to college. Hope amid conflict. I see it again and again in this city. This independent Republic of Artsakh. Armenia as a whole. A series of unexpected and turbulent events.
I lied to Suzan today. I am afraid. I am afraid of the degree to which I love it here. I am afraid of leaving her side.