16-year-old Aren has been learning to drive since he was 10 years old: his father said he will need it one day. The ability of driving a car became handy at the critical moment of saving his family. The Azerbaijani armed forces were already entering Chartar when Aren decided to take his large family to Armenia with his father’s car.

“My grandfather’s friend wanted to drive, I said, I will drive, you take out your cars. They gave 20 liters of gasoline, but it was too little: the road was long, there was a lot of traffic,” said the young man from Artsakh in a conversation with Forrights.am, recalling what happened to them after the disaster that began in his native Chartar after September 19.

“There was not enough gasoline, my newborn sister, a few days old, was in the car too. I did not turn on the heater, there was a shortage of gasoline,” he says, noting that there was also a problem with water and food on the way.

“We took some water, some bread, whatever was possible, whatever was convenient. When it was almost time to reach the Hakari Bridge [the border controlled by Azerbaijanis], I thought we would run out of gas; there was very little left. A grandfather [an old man] approached me, his Soviet car’s wheel tires were deflated. He asked me to start my car, to inflate the tires of his car using the accumulator. I said that I didn’t have gas, I would stay on the road. He gave gasoline, we inflated his tires, he got out, and we passed, thank God. By helping each other, by giving bread to one and water to the other, we were able to get out,” says Aren.

In addition to his newborn sister, who was born 8 days before the war, there were also his mother, two minor brothers and his grandmother in Aren’s car. Armed Azerbaijanis stopped the 16-year-old boy three times, and one of them tore off Aren’s car camera.

“We passed three posts before Hakari [bridge]. In the first post, they saw that there was a camera in the car, but it was not turned on. I said in Russian that it was not on, but he said that he didn’t care and took it off. In the second, only the trunk was checked, and in the third, the Russians told us to lower the windows so that they could give humanitarian aid, but we didn’t stop, we drove and passed.”

Aren drove the car for 48 hours. He got tired on the way, wanted to sleep and rest, but there was not time for that.

“At such time, you should not think that you can get tired, that you can sleep. We [often] stopped at traffic jams: sometimes we stopped for 15 minutes, sometimes we stopped for two hours. I managed to sleep a little during those two hours. I probably have slept altogether for two hours during 48 hours; that’s how we came,” Aren recalls.

In Chartar, Aren practiced boxing, attended school, and helped his parents in agricultural work. He proudly says that they did not ask for anything from anyone; they worked and lived on their fair earnings. This is how Aren imagined his future in his hometown. “I would serve [in the army that was mandatory], then I would find a job, start a family, that’s how I would live.”

Now Aren lives with his family in an apartment rented by a benefactor. The house rent for six months has been transferred [to the landlord], three of which have already passed: after that, they don’t know how and where they will live. Aren thinks about finding a job in Yerevan to work after school, buth Yerevan employers do not hire the brave boy citing his young age.

Before being forced to leave Chartar, Aren helped another family. The truck belonging to the family, which was used in agricultural work, was given to a large family so that they could leave the city, because the enemy army was already in the vicinity of Chartar. “I helped them heartily so that they could get their family out. That car served us a lot: we didn’t want it to remain with the enemy. My father used to support us with it.”

Aren’s father, Vanik Hayrapetyan, was killed when defending Chartar. We will discuss the feat of Vanik Hayrapetyan and the current problems of his family in our next publication.


Narek Kirakosyan

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