“After Hayrapet, the colors faded away in this country: These children were massacred on the lands handed over”

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– We are far away from the War.

This is the answer Hayrapet Mikayelyan gave each time he was asked asked, “What news are there from the war?” “’What are you talking about?’ He constantly saw how his close friends, fellow students, the boys living next to him were being killed, being burned in the tanks. We have lived through cruel days.” Hayrapet’s mother Heghine remembers.

Hayrapet

After graduating from school, my Hayrapet was admitted to Vazgen Sargsyan military college, although I was against it. After graduation, my son was assigned to the Ghapan military unit as an officer and a tanker. A year later, they moved to Kubatlu. He was married; they gave them a house, and he moved with his family to live there. They were very pleased.

On September 15, 2020, they were sent to Astrakhan for military exercises, about 82 soldiers went with their officers, all of them showed very well what kind of an army we had. He had received medals from there. He was supposed to come back on September 27, but the war started, it was a messy situation, they postponed it. They came on the 30th of the month, but I did not go to meet them: I did not want to.

The way started

When they returned, they immediately went to fight in Jebrayil. He used to call but did not tell us anything. I did not even talk to my son for 20 days. Only once, when they were talking through the speaker, I asked from the side if he had eaten, he said,

– Mom dear, what kind of a question is it?

When he talked to his wife, he said, “We are far away from the war.” But everything was in from of his every day. He constantly saw how his close friends, his fellow students, the boys living next to him were dying, how they were burning in the tanks. We have lived through cruel days.

They were near the machines and equipments; they repaired them. They were building tanks: we learned later that they were not our tanks; they were tanks confiscated from the Turks. They were building them with friends, and that is how they fought against the Turks. They say that when the Turks came, they occupied our territories, our people were chasing the Turks in tanks, and the Turks were fleeing.

On October 14, he wrote to his wife twice, “Pray”… But I still did not believe; he never complained. We did not have any news after that. On the 15th of the month, they were carrying out an order with four friends, a drone came and hit them․ All four were killed. The boy’s last word was, “The order has been carried out,” he reported. We found out about the incident on the 16th.

After Hayrapet

And the bitter springs, the bitter autumns, winters, summers began for me. I do not care now. We do not care now. No matter what I do to keep myself occupied, it does not save!

After Hayrapet, the colors of this country have faded away for me. I was a person who loved colors so much. When people were upset and said, ‘What kind of life is this, how do we live this life?’ I used to say, ‘Be thankful: the people exist, there is bread, there is work’. I was advising everybody. I am not adviser anymore. These children were massacred on the lands given away.

I do not want to look at the medals, I do not want to see why they were given: my medal, my prode was my son. He is a very good boy. I do not want to talk about him in past tense: he is my present, he is my future.

My Hayrapet’s daughter was 3 years old when the war started, my daughter-in-law was three months pregnant, but he did not see his second daughter. The eldest daughter remembers her father, she is offended from her father. The other day she said, ‘I wish my father came from Russia.’ Once we were taking them somewhere with their grandfather and she wispered said in my ear, ‘Grandma, let me tell you something, but do not tell my mom (so she won’t be sad). Grandma, I want so much to tell grandpa to drive to my dad’s workplace, give him a call, see him, then he can go back again’. She keeps asking questions, but I have no answers.

Ani Torosyan, Author

Photos by Astghik Gaudyan