Sahagian: To Win A Mountain’s Heart

By Apo Sahagian

August 2, 2009

Sahagian, who lives and studies in Jerusalem, participated in the
Hamazkayin Forum 2009 in Armenia. Below are his impressions from a
trip to Aragadz.

Standing on a mountain top can be a bit intimidating. Yet, I
never reached the peak-just a quarter of the way-and still I was
intimidated. Your view is conquered by endless green hills, smaller
(but not less daunting) mountains, and a miniature pond that fits in
perfectly with the isolated patch of heaven on earth. This was what
I witnessed standing on toppled rocks, ready to drag me down to my
final breath. But what does any of that matter when-for one moment,
one vital moment few can really claim-you behold in your eyes a beauty
so seductive, you might as well purposely drag your self down with the
rocks. The only thing missing was the emotive sound of the duduk. But
even that was perfectly replaced by serenades composed by high breezes,
which hushed the silence ever so sweetly.

And I had that moment on Mount Aragadz.

But I should admit this: I underestimated the mountain. You must not
blame me, though, because I was raised with Ararat stories. In which
Armenian household can you find a picture of Aragadz welcoming you
from the doorway, only to find a bigger display of the mountain inside
the house? I personally have never encountered such a situation. It
really must be frustrating living under Ararat’s shadow. Since I’m on
a confession spree, I might as well say that I didn’t even know what
Aragadz looked like. Ararat was the highest point in Armenia; now it’s
Aragadz. While passion was a common verbal factor when speaking about
Ararat, vocal necessity was felt when people spoke about Aragadz. Thus,
my interest in the mountain diminished, almost to an unpatriotic low.

Sitting in the bus on our way to Aragadz, listening to music, and
looking out the left side window, the instant arrived. First the
mountains, second the higher mountains, and finally the one with the
frozen peaks.

For one tiny second, I didn’t know what the peaks were called and which
country they were in. "Georgia," I thought? "Nah, can’t be. We’re a
long way from the border. Azerbaijan is on the other side. Turkey? Is
that mountain in Turkey? OK, what have they done with Ararat!" So,
yes, my first interaction with Aragadz was, admittedly, on unfamiliar
terms. Nonetheless, I was attracted by the mystic physical shape
of the mountain, with numerous peaks. By the time I actually came
to the conclusion that the mountain was in Armenia, and not in any
other country in the TransCaucasus, the bus came to a halt, and I
felt the breeze.

We finally met. How I had never taken notice of this mountain? From
a logical (and male) perspective, you might agree: If a plump girl’s
best friend is a beautiful girl, no boy is going to take notice of
the former.

The same thing happened to me, and I played true to the Adam
gene. After so many years of Ararat pictures, stories, T-shirts,
songs, and photographs, I was unintentionally persuaded to believe
that no mountain could match Ararat’s beauty. I believe that, even
now, but the less scenic best friend also holds a wild exquisite
flame set in striking eyes.

So I set out to discover, to explore, to know who Aragadz was. Or so
I thought.

>From my first determined step to reach the closest peak, I was hit
by endless amount of shattering wind, which reinforced the idea
that Aragadz had rejected me. But even mountains feel like people
(especially these Armenian mountains), and they don’t take rejection
lightly. As I took my steps uphill, it became all the more clear:
Aragadz didn’t like me. Nevertheless, I continued, reached the closest
peak, and found what I had never known, what I had dismissed. Aragadz,
however, sent me the message that "she" did not want me there, that
it was too late for amends: I saw a mouse on the way, and God knows I
hate mice. Even so, I kept going, and I got there, to the closest peak.

And I saw the wild exquisite flame set in her striking eyes.

I saw Armenia, the real landscape I hail from. I saw the endless
lines of mountains and hills. I saw my heritage, tradition, and
culture. I saw splendor, magnificence, and might. I saw elegance
and delicacy. I felt true inner peace and harmony. I found heaven,
my heaven at least. All this, all these feelings, sentiments, and
sensation, I found only for a moment, a moment a few can claim. I
saw beauty, a beauty that would not let me see more.

I had to descend back down to my first. It was too cold, and the
moment had passed. She did not want me there any longer, and I, with
deep apologies and sorrow, left her to the isolation and glamour she
had grown accustomed to. On my way down, I decided that I would come
back to revisit and win Aragadz’s heart, for simply, she is there
after all. Therefore, Vanity, thy name is Aragadz.