BY PATIL DERHAGOPIAN
We as spurkahyes (diasporan Armenians) have an amazing understanding of yearning and wanting for our homeland. My heart fills with joy, my eyes glisten, and my smile widens every time I think of our lands and the beauty that surrounds it. I can lay pondering for hours. Until three weeks ago, my thoughts were only filled with pictures and videos of what I always hoped to see in person. Nothing could have ever prepared me for seeing Ararat clearly for the first time.
We had stopped by Khor Virab on our way to Artsakh for our second session of day camps/jampar after being in Gyumri for two weeks. We got off our van, walked up hill, and there it was. My jaw dropped, heart skipped a beat, lungs filled with fresh air and I felt a sigh of relief. Shoulders loosened, nerves unclenched, spine tingled as I gazed for what seemed like hours. Nothing could have prepared me for this.
We all stopped and stared for several minutes, not saying a single word amongst ourselves. Silence is the best indicator of pure gratitude and appreciation. I’m sure I speak for all of the participants when I say there was nothing more than those exact emotions when our eyes locked on the rural mountainside facing Western Armenia, and onto our mountain, Ararat. Simple, yet a symbol that represents Armenia in every way, shape, and form.
After visiting Khor Virab, we had a long journey ahead, a 7-8 hour car drive to get to Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh. Little did I know that our prolonged car ride would lead to many more encounters with the other thousands of mountains that fill the fields of the homeland.
We drove through ups and downs, lefts and rights, green forests and rugged terrain. Twisting turns, breathtaking views, and not to forget- pulling over every two hours for stretching breaks.
We saw the sun tuck underneath the mountains, fluffy white clouds surround us, pink and orange cotton candy fill the sky and graced us with their appearance. Never had I seen a more perfect symphony of nature at work. The van pulled over to the side of the road, we peaked out the windows wondering what we stopped for. It was to my surprise to see the well-known “Welcome to Artsakh” sign. And that’s it. We were home.
My favorite patriotic song is Lerner Hayerni, because I understand what it’s like to feel so close yet so far from our lands. To struggle and fight for the homeland. Never to have met the Holy Mountains, but to miss them either way was a blessing in disguise. To know I have a place to call home outside of home. Somewhere, where I know I belong. A place I’m extremely proud and glad to call mine.
«Իմ երակներում ուժն է մայր հողի,
Իմ լեռներ, լեռներ, լեռներ հայրենի։»