Author’s Note: November 8, 2020 was the first time I heard the melodic voice of Tigran Harutunyan, a brave and fearless Armenian soldier. Tigran’s song to his mother deeply touched and resonated with me. Within a matter of a month and a half, I was honored to speak to his sister Anna, his mother Gayane and then his family, friends and teachers. I learned about the human spirit of kindness and the profoundly immense and indelible mark that Tigran left on all those he knew and the Armenian nation.
Tigran was born on January 27, 1999 to Gayane and Zhora in the village of Hartagyugh in Lori Marz. His childhood was one of wonder and happiness. He shared all of life’s moments with his amazing sister Anna. He was surrounded by love and light. He was a kind-hearted and deep individual, who loved to write and sing. He loved life, and he loved his country. He was called to serve and martyred in October of 2020. May his soul rest in peace knowing that his legacy will forever live on.
Our Tigran follows the 2021 publication Tigran’s Song and is a collection of stories about the wonderful young man who touched everyone who was privileged enough to know him. Our Tigran will be available online for purchase in January of 2023. All proceeds from the book will be donated to our hero’s scholarship fund.
The following is an exclusive excerpt for the Armenian Weekly.
Susanna—Tigran’s Horkoor (Aunt)
My Hohnk—eyebrow, the nickname I used for my precious nephew. Tigran’s eyebrow was always one of my favorite features of his. It was so distinctive to him. There were so many valuable moments that we spent together as a family. It didn’t matter that we moved to the Czech Republic.
When Tigran was studying at the Gyumri Conservatory, he stayed with my sister. My nephew would play the piano, and Tigran would ask him to play certain tunes. He felt the tunes that he relayed to be played. He felt it from the depths of his heart.
I met him in 2001 when he was just a toddler and then again in 2009. He had this way of saying “Hok Jan” (Dear Auntie) that made me feel so special. He holds a special place in my heart. When we went in 2009, we spent such quality time together in nature. We picked flowers, he played with my twins, and we spent such happy moments together.
My heart is broken with his loss.
Tigran and I got into so much mischief. He was a happy friend, very generous and he loved sweets. Our teachers loved him because he had the easiest way of getting out of his classwork and homework. Tigran and I grew up together. We walked to school together. Arthur, Ashot (my brother) and Tigran loved to walk to school with Tigran’s sister Anna. Anna was the one who didn’t get into mischief. We always got dirty and goofed around walking to school.
Tigran loved to play futbol (soccer). He loved to dress up. I remember when it was the last day of school, and he was so excited. He had on a cute suit, and I remember him getting champagne all over it. He was constantly singing. No matter what he was doing, he would have a tune that he was singing to. He would tell me that I want to be on the Armenian X Factor. I encouraged him to do it, but he was hesitant. He didn’t give himself enough credit. He had the voice and could have definitely won.
He would be at every birthday, and everyone was included. He made those last few years’ celebrations a huge concert. He was small in figure but had so much energy. All he wanted was to make people happy.
He was also a Don Juan. He had a way with the ladies, where he spoke to them with such class and respect. He was mischievous and made everyone fall in love with him. He was our Tigran.
We have a huge garden and have planted so many things. We had a huge sunflower and the seeds were delicious, but Tigran and Arthur would go and “steal” from the neighbor’s garden.
Gayane (Tigran’s mom) and my mom would have to go to school since the teachers would ask them to come in to let them know what mischief they created. We would always hear that they didn’t want to do classwork and they were rowdy in class. The teacher would ask the boys to leave the class and the teacher would say how much she loved the boys and how we brought joy to the class.
Our families were always close and will remain close. Tigran will always remain in our soul. His valor and courage will always inspire us.
Tigran and I had so many adventures together. We were classmates, friends, like brothers. He would call me religiously when he was in the army.
We all loved to have in class birthday parties. We would all chip in and get cake and presents. One time, it was our turn to go get the gift and party supplies. We asked one of our teachers to drive us to the store. We knew this teacher, who was bald, didn’t like spicy things. So what did we do? We got him spicy kebabs and got ourselves regular kebabs. You could see the sweat beads coming down from his bald head! Mischief at its finest!
We went to Lake Sevan together and had a blast burying Tigran in the sand. The only thing you could see were Tigo’s eyes.
He loved to play tennis. We would ditch class to play tennis. We wouldn’t bring our books home so we wouldn’t have to do homework. But we were ready for our tests. Our female classmates were always more than happy to “help” us with our exams. They also loved to do our homework. We would make sure to bring them candy for all of their hard work.
I miss my friend so very much.
Anna, Tigran’s sister
My brother was a character. He lived his short life with such charisma and always made people happy. He was only a year and a few months older than me. We shared and will always continue to share an unbreakable bond.
I have so many memories of him. I remember a time when he brought home a dog with a broken leg. I remember he sang a song for Mariam, our neighbor’s daughter. I remember hearing the stories of him being smitten by a 16 year old girl when he was four or five years old. The girl’s name was Ruzan, and she was a beauty with blonde hair. He would see her every day and would be in awe of her. One day she was wearing all black and like the little man that he was at the time, he nonchalantly went up to her and said, “Didn’t I tell you not to wear black?” He didn’t like the fact that it was an attire for mourning. He always made sure to invite Ruzan for coffee. He would roll out the red carpet for her. He once gave her a fake necklace as a gift. My brother, Mr. Generous and a definite Casanova.
When he was at the Gyumri Conservatory, one of the ladies in the cafeteria was a lovely lady named Nelly. He would always tell her, “Nelly Doda (aunt), if you make us good food, I promise, I’ll sing for you.” He had a magnetic energy and a lovable personality.
When he started at the Gyumri Conservatory, one of his classes had a lot of writing. He didn’t like to write. He loved to speak and sing, but he honed in on his writing to make it better. He would sit and verbally tell me what he wanted to write and then us being the dynamic duo, would write things down. How I long for those days! How I long for my brother to be near me, to light up every room he would enter. During his times in the army, he would call on Saturdays or Sundays and he would dictate to me what he wanted written down. I cherished those times and will always cherish them in my soul.
My brother became known for one of the songs he sang for our mother. The song was to not let her know that he had passed away. He sang this several days before he was taken from us. At the time when he sang the song, he also sang approximately 50 other songs. That particular song was the one he wanted recorded for our mom to see.
The last time he spoke to Mom, she told him, “Tigran jan, don’t be afraid.” To which he replied, “Mom jan (dear), we are lion hearted boys. We are not afraid of anything or anyone, except God.”
When my brother was injured in October of 2020, he was conscious and moved to Armenia for treatment of internal injuries. He had a profound desire to live. The doctors said that had he arrived 15 minutes earlier, he would have survived.
God rest your soul, dear brother. We will all carry your legacy and tell the world of the immense and kind human being that you were. I know you shine down from heaven and are always with us.