The wounds of 66-year-old Mher Khudoyan’s soul have not healed. Two years after the 44-day war, he still cannot hold back tears when talking about Aper [nickname, meaning Brother], remembering episodes from his childhood.

“I want my child,” says the father, crying like a child.

The Khudoyans are Yezidis by nationality. They live in Yeghegnut village of Armavir marz. Mher Khudoyan has eight children, of which three are girls and five are boys. Aper, with big black eyes and puffy skin, was her 8th child, whom everyone treated as the youngest child of the house and had a special attachment to.

Aper is 19-year-old Alik Khudoyan. He was drafted into the army in 2019 and served in the Armavir training military unit in the first six months, then in Stepanakert military unit (Central Defense District, TsOR). He was a tank mechanic-driver and was a soldier for 1.6 years when the war started. Alik went through different fronts during the 44-day war: Jrakan, Varanda, Karakhanbeyli; took part in hot battles, once he was even miraculously saved, but was killed on November 8, one day before the cease-fire, in Shushi.

“The friend said that he felt he was going to die. He told his friend, ‘You are the only boy in your family, you will go out by all means. I am the 5th boy in our family, it’s okay, I will stay here”, Alik’s mother, 61-year-old Zoya Mstoyan, relays what the friend said.

In order to save his wounded friend, he found an ambulance in the area and forced him to be sent to the rear, he stayed in the trench, which he made in Taghavard.

“They didn’t even have a commander; he organized the defense himself. They say that he didn’t sleep for 4 days, his eyes were swollen. He asked for a few minutes to rest and he couldn’t: they hit him from above. That happened on November 8. {If he were not killed] at least one more day, the war would be over,” the mother wipes her eyes full of tears.

The mother says that it is not nice to constantly say good things about her son, but “he was a miracle child, smart, organized”. From the battlefield, he tried to call his parents often, to calm them down, to listen to their parents’ voices. However, the communication with him was interrupted for four days. Then they learned that Alik went through great trials with his friends on the water road from Akna and was miraculously saved. “The tank remained under water for several hours, the child was miraculously saved, he took the tank out into the forest, but the cabin broke down, he remained in unknown to anybody place with his group for four days. Then they go down, cut branches from the trees by hand and cover the tank with them. The children have seen hard days, very hard.”

Two sons of the Khudoyans served in Artsakh, the other two in the territory of Armenia. Now three of the sons live and work in the Russian Federation. The girls are not in Armenia either.

Khudoyans are Christian Yezidis. Mher Khudoyan was taken care of by Armenian woman Mrs. Arusiak. “She looked after me like her own son and took care of me and our family,” says Mher Khudoyan.

This family is not looking for culprits for their son’s death. They don’t even think about it. “To be honest, I’m not looking for culprits now, what happened happened. Now, if I say that such and such a person is guilty, what should I change? Your visit comforts us, people’s attention comforts us,” says Mher Khudoyan.

Alik’s relatives buried him in the Yezidi cemetery of Baghramyan village.

Hasmik Hambardzumyan

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