Khachmach: Snapshot of Idyllic Life Near Varanda River

Khachmach village of Askeran region is only 25 kilometres away from Stepanakert. We spent a few days in the hospitable and warm Mardiyan family. Their five kids and their friends not only insisted we play with them until we almost dropped dead but also gladly showed us around. We walked all the way from Shoshka Monastery to the village school and even paid a visit to the local cemetery. Whereas before the 2020 Artsakh War the enemy was essentially more of a concept than a part of reality, now they are visible from the windows of the Mardiyan family home. This is a snapshot of bucolic life in Khachmach village.

When we arrived, Manvel Mardiyan and his mother Gohar were baking bread, as children were circling around the garden and playing tag.

Cows, rabbits, hens… “We have everything,” Manvel says. 

What a joy to follow children into their little wonderland, where games keep changing rules and the sole shop of the village is only for ice-cream.

Since Khachmach is a small and cozy (~200-person) place, all roads lead to the village school. One of the walls inside reads: “Give away your breath, give away your soul, but don’t give away your homeland to the enemy.” Another poster put up after the 2016 4-day War says, “Let the dawns in Artsakh always be peaceful.”

Khachmach is made up of white stone and in between there are patches of greenery and wood, like embroidery. 

Manvel takes us to the village cemetery and stops to greet his ancestors.

We go on to take a stroll and have coffee in one of the neighbors’ houses. Their cat is playing with its feisty kitten. 

Back in he yard near the Mardiyan house, a car with the message “If we lose Artsakh, we will turn the last page of Armenian history.” passes.

And then — behold — a donkey!

One of the girls says about the cat: “His name is Aram. I named him after one of my classmates.” 

And it’s dinnertime!

The next day, we take to the road again. 

Photos by Narek Aleksanyan

Written by Nare Navasardyan

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