Day 28, Diary of War, Nagorno-Karabakh

Shortly after I wrote yesterday’s diary, Stepanakert was shelled again. The continuous bombing of Stepanakert had stopped for some time, but yesterday it again began. Apart from Stepanakert, other towns and villages across Artsakh have been shamelessly bombed since the start of the war on September 27.

Every person has a special, favorite place in the country where they live. So do I. Among all the towns and districts of Artsakh, Martuni is the most close to my heart. There are certainly some reasons for my special love.

Country life…

I used to spend all the school holidays in the village of Krasny Bazar (Red Market) in Martuni. All the best days of my childhood were there. Those were the days…

In the mornings, breakfast consisted of (may the vegans forgive me) freshly laid eggs that you fetched from the coop yourself, homemade cheese and yogurt, and a cup of tea with 6 tablespoons of sugar. Hiking to fetch water from Tsortsort Akhbyur (Cold Spring), climbing the neighbors’ plum trees, bathing in a cold river, and the most favorite – clean, starched sheet and a newly made mattress (filled with well-processed sheep’ wool). One can talk endlessly about rural life, but seems I’ve told enough. 

The words…

In its special dialect, Martuni has many words that convey warmth, love and care. For example – “jigar”, which literally means liver. In Martuni, it stands for “my soul”, “dear”, “beloved” … This word ‘jigar” is being used in many regions, but still I believe most of all in Martuni. Because of such words, people seem to me dearer and warmer. I don’t know, these are my personal interpretations.

Monte…

One can talk about Monte for hours. He is one of the key figures thanks to whom people of Martuni live safely now. But this is not the only reason. His personal qualities are worthy of enormous respect. A prominent man, а simplе man, smart, honest. A true leader, walking in front of his men, not behind them. I was recently interviewed by a radio from Los Angeles, and they asked if I remember Monte Melkonian. I was so delighted to hear his name. I said that Martuni residents were considering renaming their town (or may be the whole region, I don’t remember exactly) in honor of him; they wanted to call it Monetaberd (Monte Fortress).That’s how much Martunians love him.

I’ll tell you a story about Monte. Once he went to one of the regiments, it was lunch time. The cook, knowing that that the visitor was the legendary Monte, put two eggs on his plate, but only one for everyone else. When Monte got his plate, he looked at it, and called on the cook, “Why did you give me two eggs, and only one to everyone else?” “Well, Monte, you’re the leader, I don’t know, I just wanted to thank you somehow…” “Don’t do so anymore, please. How can I take two when the others get one?”

That’s the way he was – honest, just, and his spirit is still in Martuni.

People…

Several months ago I had to go to Martuni for business every day (for 2-3 months). I know by heart every hole on the asphalt on the way there. I was an HR manager in one of the companies and interviewed almost all of the Martuni residents! They are so dear to me. I loved them to the depths of my heart!

Why am I telling you this?! I was there recently, during the war. We got caught under fire. Our CIVILNET team was filming a house that got damaged after the bombing. And ironically, at that moment, another shelling began. By that time, we were about to leave, we wanted to go to the town’s center. Well, it would have taken us three or four minutes to get there. And at that moment they began to fire directly at the center where we were heading. In a nutshell, we miraculously survived, or rather failed to get to death. It was scary, but it was even worse seeing the town in such a state. On top of that, Martuni has been under fire ever since, it was shelled again yesterday as well.

I will go again to my beloved Martuni, to my beloved people who are looking forward to returning home. We will sit under the trees, will drink samovar-made tea and dream.

Also Read: On Karabakh Frontline, Faith Remains a Key Weapon