The Soldier


Cease fire is declared.
“Pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death,” I mutter under my breath. I raise myself out of the safety of the small dugout, a makeshift trench, to take a cautious peek into the night. There is a deafening silence, and the smell of gunpowder forms a thick wall suspended in mid air. I sink back into the trench. I take a deep breath of the dear earth. It is moist, almost muddy. I bury my nose into my mud, sweat and blood stained sleeve. Surprisingly, the aroma of the earth blends pleasantly into the very fabric of my army camouflage. This is the 15th day. I long to wash, to feel the warmth of water running down my skin and the scent of soap in my nostrils. I think of my wife. She had said, “Go, go fight the fight, but come back to me.” I had wanted to cry as I smelled her hair in her embrace. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I shouldn’t. I hugged my little girl. She cried.

There is a whistling sound, an explosion, and the hillside vibrates with the concussion sending clumps of earth into my face. The walls of the trench shudder. I lie stunned for long seconds. My head doesn’t clear. I try to shake my head to awaken; I try to move. The stench of explosives burns in my nostrils. Ayo, yeah, I finally mumble. Yeah, I’m still here.

“Pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.”

I hear a cry from another dugout. A Brother is hurt. I tell him “Brother, hang on, relief will come before dawn.” Silence, once again.  In the end it isn’t the noise that worries me. It is the silence between the noises. It means expect more trouble. I have girded myself with extra ammo, stuffing magazines into every available pocket and pouch of my harness. But this war needs heavier equipment than a pocketful of ammo.  In training, I was told to use my ammo wisely. Wisely! What is wise about this whole situation? Genocide has played no small part in the history of my people. A whole generation has grown up in war with the resurrection of the nightmares of 1915. The torch, held by my ancestors, that I have struggled to keep lit, is being passed on to the next generation. So at all costs I doggedly, stubbornly carry on because I am fraught with doubt at the horrifying lack of global humanitarian action. A thousand miles away, a peace talk is being held. I do not know the outcome but I hope for the best even as I prepare for the worst. I have understood from my experience that Azerbaijan and Turkey do not know the language of negotiations. They are fighting unjustly and cunningly with paid jihadists. As though their numbers are not enough to outnumber our small 3million wanting to live in peace. So with every new battle, every new death, every new bomb or every massacre, every new piece of bad news is felt as a personal injury to be born forever in our history. This is not a war for a small piece of land, it is a war against the very existence of our beloved homeland, our Artsakh, our Armenia, our freedom, our right.

“Pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.”

Gentle rain sprinkles on my helmet. I welcome it. I crawl out of the muddy trench and make my way to the other dugout. “Brother jan,” I whisper. I know his face well. He is one of the brave young men who joins us from the Diaspora. He has fought a war previously. He has shot an unknown number of men. “Those you see die will stay with you for the rest of your life,” he said in training. We see sameness in war. Fighting for the homeland and a vow to not have a repeat of the Genocide our grandparents had to go through. But here we see death hovering relentlessly. And in this place, we both feel fear, and it shames us privately. I hate fear, and most of all I hate fear in myself. And yet I have been afraid three weeks and everyday since coming up to this moment. Brother is badly hurt. He is bleeding and shaking. He says the rain feels good. He fumbles for something in his pocket. I help him. It is a pack of cigarettes. “Take it. Keep it dry,” he murmurs. Slumped together, we wait for relief.  His blood, my blood seep into the mud and we feel  the earth ooze, as though she too is bleeding. “Victory,” he exhales as he releases his final breath.

I kiss him on the forehead for his mother. I kiss him on the brow, for his true patriotism. I kiss him again, for in this he is my brother. I kiss him.

“Pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.”

This entry was posted in death, genocide, humanity, justice, Uncategorized, war and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Soldier

  1. Yeran says:

    Thank you, Silva. I watched a short video on Public Radio of Armenia this morning, where a soldier said “glory to the homeland whose children are patriots”. True, but every soul so needlessly lost is so dear for our nation that keeps bleeding … Praying for them every moment …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glory to all who fight for our freedom and existence. All that’s left for us from our civilization and ancestry is a small plot of land we call Armenia and Artsakh. Artsakh is Armenia. May we live to see it.

      Like

  2. serkolig says:

    Very powerful and heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sylva Minassian says:

    Thank you Silva !
    You always have your unique expressions and words to stirr the core of our emotions.
    I posted a reply ,looks like it got lost ,may be it will pop up!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Sylva.I pray that the situation takes a turn for the better and I can stir some happier core emotions for all our sakes.

    Like

  5. Taline says:

    Heartbreaking! I pray that my children’s generation can carry on the legacies and stories of how Armenia and Armenians are victorious by continuing to survive!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s