• Maria Oranovskaya-Maletskaya
I Turn My Soul Inside Out to Share the Warmth of Armenia

Mount Ararat, Yerevan, Armenia / Photo: Edgar Harutyunyan

I Turn My Soul Inside Out to Share the Warmth of Armenia

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A regular Tuesday at the office where I work at ended with one simple phrase: "Tell us about Armenia."

There are many people in our department, but we do listen to each other. And if there are listeners, then there's the storyteller, too. So I begin my story.

I tell them about the beauty of Armenia, about the clouds that fall on the waters of the Lake Sevan, gently kissing its cold back. I tell them how dazzlingly beautiful is the snow resting on the shoulders of the ancient mountains. How the sun loves the city of Yerevan, filling it up with light. And I tell them about the history of Armenia and the stones that whisper it to your ear - how this nation cherishes its past, no matter how sorrowful it was. I tell them about the church that became much more than just religion. And how faith unites the nation in all aspects of their life. How the light flows in from the windows of the monastery, and you stand under the arches and you feel the presence of the Almighty One. I tell them about a boy named David, who became a knight. How khachkars saved people's lives, and how scared I was to touch them, because they're alive and they saw things that my heart wouldn't be able to bear. And that there's no need to just believe in God, but we should live our lives in a such a way that God believed in us.

I tell them about the cult of mind and intelligence in Armenia that fascinated me to the core. About chess being taught to children in the schools. About the president of the country opening the world championship of the "What? Where? When?" intellectual game. I tell them about fascinating people, and about my personal magicians with whom I was lucky to cross paths, and each of whom has an interesting story. I tell them about Arman Abovyan and Khachatur Avobyan. And in my story, the lively and extraordinary Arman is intertwined with Khachatur, who is now long gone, but who has left so much after himself. We drink cognac, and I tell about two people who bear the same name and surname - Markar Sedrakyan. With one of them, we bought the cognac that was once created by his grandfather. And because of this amber liquid, the grandfather survived, and I found a new friend.

I tell them about Emil and Mika, and that by just looking at them, it is a little more easy for me to be stronger and fight against life's challenges. I tell them about Armen Ashotyan whom I met in Georgia and who explained me that the gap between "mere mortal me" and "important and high-ranking him" exists only in my head.

I tell them about the war - how painful it is to see the scars of war in a place full of warmth, hope, hospitality and faith. I explain why do these spiritual people break the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" and how fragile is the line when it comes to defending your home, your family and your life. And God will forgive.

And my colleagues listen to me as I speak for an hour and a half. I look at their faces, and they look at me like children listening to a fairy tale before sleeping. And I turn my heart and soul inside out to share the warmth I brought from Armenia with them. For us, the children of the north who are used to look at the snow for 6 months a year, there's not enough warmth. And I hope my story can warm them up on this cold November night. I finish my story. They brush away the entrancement, check the time and slowly begin to leave for home. They're silent, but deep down in their souls they still hear my voice.