Starting the afterwar: excerpts from the 10th issue of “Inknagir” literary journal

The 10th edition of the “Inknagir” literary journal delves deeply into the theme of war, both directly and indirectly. This is a unique issue, and editor Violet Grigoryan describes it as a unique journey of self-healing through literature. This special issue features new works by renowned authors alongside translations, offering a poignant tribute to the memory of Vahan Ishkhanyan. In our review, we highlight excerpts from the writings showcased in this remarkable edition.

Amid a deepening war and the constant stream of tourist buses carrying singing boys to the front lines, it’s difficult to speak of love. This is Artsakh, where my father fought and aged prematurely, where my brothers are currently at war, and where my mother is exhausted. Here, where we quietly navigate our frayed nerves, yearning for peace, yearning for a way to endure, to persist, to survive.

I immerse myself in you to make you counterattack, I do it to lose all my blood, to become crippled, to become water and fire, to be frozen in you, to be separated from you, to become an iron web, so that you don’t bend from every anti-Russian-European wind.

In anticipation of your return, your mother and sister fasted, tended to your cherished garden with meticulous care, memorized the height of the ceilings of government buildings, and always, always prayed.

Your son says:

Dad, if you defeat the enemy, does that mean you killed them?
Dad, was Santa Claus also killed by the Turks?

Lusine Yeghyan, “a wall-country”


How profound was the pain?

The rising sap from the roots carried a flavor: was it bitter, sweet, salty?… He couldn’t discern. It was distinct. He was taken aback, realizing it permeated within him, vibrant and pulsating, akin to a beating heart. Unheard, unseen, yet present, nurturing to sustain him, to uphold the collective essence of himself and all his progeny, to perpetuate and thrive in the present and the future.

How often had he uttered that word, heard it, memorized it, but did he truly feel it, like a new mother sensing the first flow of milk from her breast? And now the homeland lay beneath his feet, as a beginning, an end, a word, and a purpose.

-Don’t depart.

Rationally, it defied comprehension. Logic lacked soul; the soul dwelled deeper, where emotions and intellect intertwined, as the intangible legacy of the living and the departed, now him to bear.

Narine Kroyan, “Time of the Flies”


He was tossing and turning in bed. They took his son’s money… He wonders why he didn’t perish in 1993. He would have willingly sacrificed himself; at least then victory would have returned home in his place. But now, he must ignite the flames of his home, so the enemy arrives, settling contentedly in his house. Such a thing cannot stand. There is no place for the enemy here. The land shall weigh heavy upon them, burning, cursing, swallowing them whole, engulfed in heat with no escape. If one does not believe in divine retribution, life loses its meaning. Yet will he return?

He let out a deep sigh, closing his eyes to sleep. Sleep to regain strength. Strength to embark on the journey. A journey to mend the home that does not belong to him. To mend it with the hope of having his own home one day. To mend to return to the house that the Master crafted.

Syune Sevada, “The House They Built”


Such a silence has been established that I am afraid that nothing will ever move. The started lines remain incomplete. Each new word is a little longer than the previous one. The image of the factory, with its open, absorbing maw, has become an unrelenting nightmare. No, it was not possible to get the words there. They left with the tightrope walker who broke the rigging of the metamorphic wires, they left halfway. I don’t have a long, white, fur coat for embroidered forests. But winter moves ethereal brooms in the sky every day. For me, the astrologers suggest, for me.

Snow begins to fall, when silence becomes real, when silence does not believe in ropes. Saturday and Sunday became like vagabonds escaping from the detention center. They walk with delirious delight. And in their deep sleep, the abandoned shop windows of the barbershop smile, they are covered with the warming rime of dreams.

Shushanik Tamrazyan, “Astrologers for me”