Avetis Avetisyan, a 30-year-old contract soldier, was from the village of Norashen in Hadrut. He died on October 10, 2020, from a drone strike. One week earlier, Azeri saboteurs had tortured and killed his father, Hmayak.

The Avetisyan family had left from Gyumri to Artsakh with a resettlement program. The couple moved there with their three children, then they had two more children in the village, a son and a daughter. They named their boy Artsakh.

Remembering the first minutes of the war, the mother of the killed soldier, Armine Avetisyan, says: “At 7:20 a.m., such a bad voice was heard! I am a person who saw the earthquake in Gyumri, [still,] I was very scared. Artsakh was asleep; he got up. I saw from the window that black smoke was coming out of one of the distant villages. Artsakh started telling me, ‘Mom, it is nothing, do not be afraid’, and called Avet [his brother], who was in Hadrut at that time.

My Avet flew the five kilometers so fast, he got home so fast, that he was in our backyard in a few minutes. I cannot forget the moment when he entered the house, put on his military uniform quickly, did not even say goodbye to his wife, and jumped out the door.

I still remember how he came out of the door and left. Both of my sons left without saying goodbye. We did not have time to utter a word. On October 1, we were already in Armenia because it was dangerous in Norashen. My daughter-in-law’s relatives took us to one of the villages in the Ararat region. My husband stayed in the village, he did not come with us: he said, ‘I am staying to defend our house’. It was October 3. Our village head called and said that my husband’s body was found in the basement, hanged… I could not find my place. We were so far away from him… The saboteurs have hanged him. They entered the village.”

Armine told Avetis about what happened; she did not tell Artsakh, because she knew he would take the cruel news harder.

During the last telephone conversation with his mother, Avetis told her not to worry about him, but he may not return. “My Avetis’s last words were: ‘Gather the children under your wing, do not let anyone go anywhere, take good care of Raisa’. Raisa [the daughter-in-law] came with me. We had known each other for 15 days only, but it was as if we were a mother and a daughter.”

They already knew at that time that Raisa was expecting a baby. Avetis’s son was born seven months after his father’s death.

Artsakh removed the body of his elder brother with great difficulty and brought it to Armenia. On the way, the military police stopped him and accused him of leaving the service. However, when it became known that both his brother and his father had died, he was allowed to go to his relatives and hand over Avetis’s body to them.

The Avetisyan family of nine now is renting a place in Yerevan. They say they do not imagine what awaits them.

Ani Gevorgyan

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