Sonya Martirosyan has been baking bread with “jengyal” [bread with specific herbs] in Stepanakert market for 24 years. “It has an immortal taste; it is one of the symbols of Artsakh,” says Mrs. Sonya, remembering the bright days. Her place was at the beginning of the Stepanakert’s open market, immediately to the left of the entrance. There were days when she baked up to 100 or more. The demand of it was high especially during the siege: people were mostly fed with jengyal bread.

Now she is far from his home, she is not engaged in her favorite work. They settled with their family in Lanjazat village of Ararat region. Zhengyal bread is not in demand here, but Mrs. Sonya does not give up: she decided to teach the locals the taste and smell of Artsakh famous dish.

“I went to the school director, I said that I want to bake bread with jengyal, and asked him to help me. If I bake one, they will order again after they eat it. I want to bake a few these days, see if they want to sell ten more a day: it’s still income, we’ll live,” says the woman from Artsakh.

She brought with her from Artsakh some herbs intended for zhengyal bread, and planted several types in the yard of the rented house in Lanjazat. Now some supplies are missing; she is waiting for the support of the government to buy and start working.

“Now I’m waiting for them to give me the money [they are supposed to give] so that I can buy a knife for work, buy greens and herbs to work: I don’t have money in my hand to buy them,” said the Mrs. Sonya in a conversation with, and then get to even more painful topics. Neither she, her sons, nor her husband have jobs here. The only means of livelihood is the social support given by the government.

“The support is not enough: we receive it and pay rent. And, they don’t give it on time. November ends, there is no money, they say they will give another one in December,” she says.

Expectations to overcome this situation are high, as the people of Artsakh have overcome a year-long blockade. “When we reached the village of Tegh, I said, thank God that we arrived in Armenia unharmed,” says Mrs. Sonya and remembers the atrocities she has witnessed since September 19.

“People were coming from the villages to our yard, they were crying, saying that the Turks shot and killed their folks. We were told to get gasoline and get out. If we didn’t get out, they would reach Stepanakert and kill us,” she says and remembers how her nephew, her sister’s son, reached the house and saw that the enemy was already standing in front of the door of the house.

“The enemy had reached Ajapnyak. My nephew went to get clothes with his wife and saw that the Turks were standing in front of the door. They scared the children, they didn’t let them enter the house, they told them to get out. We received a call telling us get out quickly; the Turks were coming. Now the children can’t sleep at night because of fear, they are scared.”

Mrs. Sonia says that she left all her possessions, including gold jewelry and money, at home. “We lived hungry and thirsty for 9 months, and now we have reached this day. There is no work here, we are left without jobs,” she says and notes that the house rent is high, 200,000 drams for a house in the village. They live with 15 people. They are happy and grateful to the people of Lanjazat: they say that they have received them with love and are friendly, they help in whatever way they can.

Narek Kirakosyan

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