On September 1, Suren Altunyan, a 19-year-old resident, contract soldier of Artsakh Armed Forces, from Stepanakert, was supposed to come to Yerevan to take exams for studying at Yerevan State University Law School. He applied for admission to the university in the summer. But it was a mixed time, the leadership of the military unit where the boy served did not allow him to come. He did not get the regular 15-day vacation: they had declared readiness number one in the position. On September 19, he had to go home, take a bath, and go back to his positions.

On that day, September 19, there was supposed to be a celebration in the house of Surenents: the Altunians – the mother, father, sister, grandmother – were waiting for Suren, whom they had not seen for a month. But he was not coming…

“That’s when I found out that they had declared readiness number one again. My husband called, ‘Dear Suren, when are you coming. Aren’t you coming? It was half past one a.m. Laughing, Suren said, ‘No, dad, I’m not coming yet.’ We waited a little longer, we called, but no one answered. We waited for three more days. My husband went to their position. We learned that six people were killed that day at three in the morning and that Suren was among them. But we were still waiting. After three days, my husband went to check the morgue and found him. He saw that the body was there, but the legs were not. Artillery hit… my child’s legs were cut off,” says mother Shoghik Altunyan.

They told him that the ambulance arrived late: Suren was still alive for some time, and if they had arrived sooner, he would have been saved. “But there was no medicine, no gasoline, so that they could go and take my Suren out as soon as possible,” the woman said in an interview with Forrights.am.

She did not regret that her son was a soldier. She says: “He was a boy, he had to fulfill his obligation, of course, it will be good if there is peace. I will think that he did not die in vain.”

Shoghik is 40 years old. She says that she got old in two months after the loss of her son. She is suffering that she did not see her son’s face. He was brought in a closed coffin, four days after his death. There was no electricity in Karabakh, they brought the body through Goris to Etchmiadzin, they just dissected the body. “My husband’s father also died in 1992. They buried him in the village. The Turks came, demolished the body. My husband said, where we we go, there goes my child. I have to take him. They loaded 150 bodies in a Spyka truck and we followed them in our car to Goris, from Goris to Etchmiadzin, and from there to Yerablur [cemetery],” Shoghik recalls.

Now she goes to Yerablur every day from the village of Azatashen in Ararat region. She is happy that she can reach the place in 15 minutes by car. There are many refugees in this and neighboring villages. They gather together, remember the dead, remember the motherland, everything.

Suren had a girlfriend who also lives in Azatashen. “When that girl comes to our house, we cannot look at her face, as if we have committed a crime. But she says that when she is coming, her soul kind of relaxes: also suffers, the poor child,” says Shoghik.

The family does not like to complain about their living conditions. A relative gave them the house. “It’s okay, people are good, they help,” says Shoghik Altunan. They recently bought a washing machine. She would like to have only a gas stove. The gas stove is very old. Azatashen is the third house in her life. They want it to be the last. Altunyans are from Mets Tagher village of Hadrut region of Karabakh. They came once after the war, then they returned back to Artsakh, and then they came again.

Syuzan Simonyan

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