Man lives to help others

Norayr quickly enters and sits on the sofa. His face is bandaged. I, smiling, stand up to shake his hand, hug a hero. Norayr does not respond, lowers his head and pulls his fingers.

– How are you? Fine? – I ask.

– Yes, – he answers softly and looks up. Eyes are tired. On the face – desperate readiness.

– I have to tell? – he asks coldly and without emotions. Suddenly I understand that he does not want to pass again the way of pain and loss. “I heard the sound of shooting… dogfight started… Azat was not breathing… Ararat…”.

– I’m sorry – I say softly. Some lump was in my throat. He’ll tell, I will listen and go. And this 20-year-old will remain with his pain, with his memories.

– When did you fall in love for the last time? – I ask the most inappropriate question.

Norayr puzzled looks at me, in the corner of his mouth emerges something like smile.

– I was not in love.

– How come? – I “caught” Norayr’s smile and had already entered the game. – You’re 20 years old and you still have not fallen in love? The first time I fell in love in the kindergarten.

Norayr’s smile stretched across his face.

– Then I fell in love with my Russian language teacher in the fourth grade. And then in the eighth grade with the teacher of ear training, and then…

I have already mixed the truth and the untruth, Norayr giggles.

– How can this be?

Photographer Areg nods at me, like saying, go on and photographs Norayr’s laugh and Norayr says.

– I have not found the one that could love.

– Why, there are so many beautiful girls around!

– Why do I need a beauty? I want to have a family. For me, the look is not important.

– Come on, – I say, – even to me the look is important.

Norayr laughs loudly. And I remembered my uncle, who said – on your handsome face we’ll not eat pilaf, learn to master the rolling pin. Norayr explains to me, as my uncle.

– When choosing a life partner, you have to look at the character. She should be a good housewife, kind, should respect her in-laws, be industrious. She must understand you, be supportive. My parents raised me, what difficulties they have seen! They worked from morning till evening. I am from the Karabakh village of Gishi. Village life is not like the city, it’s hard. I have to take good care of my father and mother. I need to find a wife who would respect them and evaluate their torment. Now I can’t fell in love because I have no job, I have to recover. I’ll finish the institute, start working. When I understand that I’m able to support my family, then I’ll fall in love. …I really want to live in our village. I love the countryside, nature, soil, trees and flowers, the villagers. Our village does not look like a city, if you want, you drive the jeep, if you want, drive in a bike. But the main thing is to be a man, to be respected.

– What does it mean – to be a man?

– A man lives to help others.

– So many philosophers puzzled over – why man lives. It turns out to help another?

Norayr nods. Then he tells randomly.

– At school I loved physics, military science, and sports. Loved to compete. I like guns and my comrades… both at school, and in high school I had good friends.

– What about army?

– Good commander is also a friend. Captain Kamo Bagheyan, Major Rouben Petrosyan. They are valuable, as friends.

– And who are your best comrades?

Norayr stares blankly.

I repeat the question.

– They died.

I want to ask – how it happened, but do not risk.

– We were four – me, Asoyan Azat, Khanoyan Ararat, Mamoyan Mraz. We went after food staff. Suddenly I heard a shot, they immediately attacked us.

– How many were there?

– I managed to see three. They were not soldiers. They were grown men. Perhaps they were from special forces. They were very well armed. But we were without weapons. They shot at point blank range. I felt that a bullet hit me in the shoulder, the other – in the jaw. And then I did not feel anything, everything was a blur. I struggled with hands with one, another, with the third.

– How much did it last?

– I don’t know. I fought the last effort. There was only one thought – do not let them move forward. And then I saw that they had left their arms and run away. I looked around to find my comrades. Azat and Aararat were lying in the trench. Azat was not breathing and Ararat’s pulse was barely detectable. And I ran for help. When I returned, Ararat’s pulse had already stopped.

Norayr was looking out of the window.

«I ran for help» – these words echoed in my head. With a completely fractured jaw, with a bullet in the shoulder, whole body with stabbed wounds…

– You’re a hero, a true hero! – My voice does not obey me.

– I am a soldier, I was doing my duty. Every soldier stands on the border to close the road to the enemy, otherwise that is a betrayal, desertion. Defense Ministers of Armenia and Karabakh awarded me the medal “For Courage”. But be brave – it is the duty of everyone, I think so. In Karabakh each mother, each man, each soldier thinks like this.

– His body is hard as his spirit, – says chief of maxillofacial Branch, m/s Lt. Col. Karen Sevterteryan , who recently operated Norayr. – He miraculously survived. All operations were successful, his body is viable. Later, the missing part of the jaw and teeth we’ll restore, and our Norayr will be completely healthy.

Norayr looks at the doctor, then at me.

– The last two years I spent my birthday in the hospital. The first time my appendix burst, and the second time I was wounded. Want this year to spend my birthday at home, – he says.