Alex saves Artsakh

Alex Arzumanyan, 11, with his mother and sister in Sisian at a summer camp supported by UNICEF in partnership with UNDP’s Impact Aim Venture Accelerator Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center and Enterprise Incubator Foundation. Photographer: Biayna Mahari, August 8, 2021 (Photo used with permission)

It’s time to plan, it’s time to dream.
It’s time to tell tales in colors that lead home.
Black for horse and mountain,
Brown for soil and trunk,
Green for leaf and valley,
Yellow for sun and stars,
Silver for armor and sword.

Alex mounts his horse and rides toward a secret forest.
Invisible to all others, they head to the fortress
In the place he calls Shushi
Where invader waits but victory lies.
Over river and plain with sword close by,
Alex signals and the horse takes flight.

They land by a mountain to rest as
Sky turns dark and stars shine in patterns only Alex can see.
Constellations of kind eyes cast light from above and Alex finds the pair
He knows from a picture in a frame on a wall of the home that
Stands no more.
He can’t remember the man or his touch,
Only the eyes that closed on the fourth day
And now glow from above with the others.

He is filled and restored.
It is time to move on.
Before fading with the rising sun,
The eyes watch Alex
Check his map,
Climb onto his horse,
And ride toward the fortress
Waiting in the distance,
Strong, immovable,
His, home.

Alex dismounts and ties the horse to a tree
As the enemy gathers at the fortress gates,
Uneasy and watchful,
Uncertain and afraid
Of the sudden shift in balance and breath.
Alex runs fast on a path to a hidden door,
Entering the fortress, undetected.

The enemy’s numbers grow at the gates
As Alex climbs the tallest tower
Where he will order the invader to
Leave his fortress forever.

Alex reaches the summit and looks down
On the crowd, startled by the boy
Standing high above, armored and trembling
Like a newly hatched phoenix of myth and legend.

With sword in hand, arm raised to the sky,
Alex orders the enemy out of the fortress,
Never to return.
The frightened throng shrinks back, then runs
From the vision that burns bright with virtue
And glory and resistance.

Night falls again.
Alex looks east, west, north, and south
From the fortress plateau,
The architecture of his tale strong,
The shining eyes from above proud,
The land around him his once more.
And it was good.

*Author’s note: This verse is dedicated to and inspired by 11-year-old Alex Arzumanyan who escaped to Armenia during the 2020 Artsakh War. Arzumanyan attended summer camp with children from Syunik last year, funded by UNICEF and UNDP. The summer camp included a “fairy tale therapy” component that encouraged the children to create a story that made them happy.

Arzumanyan, who was 10 years old at the time, described his fairy tale in a UNICEF Armenia press release: “It’s about the adventures of a strong horseman who is going to take back his royal palace and throw the evil out of it. When I grow up, I will defend my homeland too. I dream of returning to our house and our village.”

May our children know a day when a secure home in a free homeland is not a “fairy tale,” but rather a protected human right in a world run by governments and regimes that honor freedom and self-determination for all, not some.

Georgi Bargamian

Georgi Bargamian

Georgi Bargamian is a former editor of the Armenian Weekly. After 10 years working in community journalism, she attended law school and is an attorney, but she remains committed to her first love journalism by writing for the Armenian Weekly.

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