Zinaida Grigoryan: “I want Armenians to become heroes in science, culture, sports and other spheres from now on”

Unfortunately, we Armenians often don’t attach too much importance to the role of nurses, but a nurse is the person who is the closest to a patient and a doctor and is the doctor’s best assistant. In Armenian, the word for “nurse” is “buzhkuyr”, and the word “kuyr” in the word means “sister”. The word “kuyr” (sister) says so much about a nurse…We often hear the words “sister, help, I am feeling bad…” in films and in our daily lives. The sister has never been late, lingered or complained when hearing these words of mercy and words that people utter for help. Many wounded soldiers recovered during the years of the first battle for Artsakh and in life-threatening situations thanks to the care and dedication of a nurse and sister who continues to work at the Central Military Hospital of Armenia and continues to fulfill her duty with the same care, love and devotion that the soldier has when fighting on the battlefield. One can see the odyssey of nurse Zinaida Grigoryan on her face and in her eyes of sadness that were full of tears during our interview. By fate, the Armenian nurse, who lost her husband during the first war in Artsakh, in March 2015, she lost her brave and handsome grandson, Arshak during the Azerbaijanis’ diversions. Showing his photos in the pages of the book that she has written about him, she could barely hold back her tears. The roads that Zinaida Grigoryan has passed during the years in peace and during war are a heroic and amazing story that she told in literate and beautiful Armenian and with sadness that she couldn’t hide.

“I wanted to become a philologist, but I took my grandfather’s advice and paid heed to his request and became a nurse. I have been working at this hospital since the very first day it opened its doors 23 years ago. During the years of the first war in Nagorno-Karabakh, I left for the military front in Hadrut. I still ask myself how I was able to leave my three children behind and leave for the battlefield that was something unreal for me until that moment since I had only seen war in films. Nurses were in need. Colonel Karen Barnavazyan from the ministry visited us at the hospital. We were called and told that there was a need for nurses. Until then, two nurses of our hospital had gone to Fizuli. At the time, I was a nurse at the surgery room of the hospital. I said I would go home, ask my husband and leave. I consulted with my husband, who was a great and devoted patriot (he died in the battles in Fizuli on April 24, 1994-he was born in April and died in April) and I left, leaving my husband to take care of our children. My husband and I believed it was right for me to leave. If they were calling us, then there was a need for nurses. In Hadrut I was working at the local central hospital. I also went to Fizuli. You might ask me if I was afraid or not. At first I was afraid, but as I kept seeing wounded soldiers being brought from the battlefield, we were so busy that we would forget about ourselves and would sometimes forget about our families and our children.

…When we were just leaving for Artsakh, Azerbaijani helicopters were constantly flying over us. I thought to myself-could I really die without having done something for my country? The old workers of the hospital in Hadrut knew how and where to hide during the bombardments. We new nurses were confused and would stand rock solid. We were afraid. At that moment, I was only thinking about my children. In the blink of an eye, my whole life passed in front of my eyes like a film strip and I imagined my children without me. I have experienced so many moments like that…I would say to myself that I had to stay strong, live and resist in order to help the wounded. In reality, I have seen hell (deaths, bombardments and seriously wounded people). They are serious phenomena for a woman, but I needed to be strong and couldn’t stop halfway. I adopted that principle for myself for my entire life. I would keep a diary and transmit my feelings and longing on the pages of the diary that sometimes seemed to be pigeons that would take the “breath” of my longing to my children…The war ended with the liberation of Shushi and the just victory of the Armenian people. I returned home before the war. Upon my return, my husband left for the battlefield…and never returned. He shed blood and died while saving an entire detachment. He was only 45 years old…The war took the father of my children and his smile away from me…I tried to find strength inside of me to continue to live and work in the renovated and already renamed hospital and to raise my children, but life would still play its cruel game with me. In March 2015, my wonderful, handsome, patriotic and honorable grandson Arshak, who was named after my husband and was serving at the military positions of Artsakh, was killed during Azerbaijan’s diversions. He was born in March and died in March. I have suffered many losses, and the wounds aren’t healing. In all the soldiers killed and wounded during the four-day war in April I saw and sought my Arshak, my 20-year-old hero…My two other grandsons are also serving in the army. One of them is serving in Kelbajar (Karvatchar) and the other-in Etchmiadzin. The latter is still in training. Reliving the pain in my soul during the days of the war in April, this time I was helping the heroes of our days who surpassed their forefathers and the former freedom fighters with their extraordinary courage and endeavors. They were even ready to leave for Artsakh with prosthetic feet and take revenge for themselves and their friends. They are true heroes. Heroes just don’t talk about endeavors. They were indescribably modest and brave boys. Most of them underwent treatment, checked out and continued their service.

…My father was a veteran of the Great Patriotic War. He was involved in the internal affairs of his hometown Javakhk and had always dreamed of having a son who would follow in his footsteps, but I was born and, paying heed to the advice of my father’s friend-in-combat, my parents named me Zinaida, the name of a nurse who was an acquaintance during the Great Patriotic War and had died during a surgery. Fortunately, even though I was named after her, I didn’t share that fate and stayed alive.

…What is left in me? I continue to live for my family, children, grandchildren, relatives and the soldiers who need me. I haven’t lost my ability to struggle. I want to wish all nurses courage, a great desire to gain knowledge, as well as love and devotion towards their job. Future nurses need to learn to be caring and merciful and need to have the skills of a nurse. We Armenians need nurses who are polite and have vast knowledge. This is very important. Life continues every day, babies are born, and new heroes are born…I want Armenians to become heroes in science, culture, sports and other spheres from now on. I don’t want any soldier or Armenian boy or man to become a hero on the battlefield. I don’t want our young Armenian boys to die. I want our cause to be solved with a just victory, and I want peace to reign around the world. I love my hometown Javakhk, I love Artsakh, I love every corner of Armenia. I love all the Armenians around the world. For me, the best Armenian is the Armenian who loves his Homeland and compatriots and doesn’t leave the Homeland at difficult moments.”

Hayern Aysor

Karine Avagyan

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