ARARAT DREAMS

Every time I have approached the Mountain: from our side, so majestic and eternally snowy,
surrounded by fertile lands; from that alienated side, so desperately meager and rocky, with placers
of gigantic volcanic stones and ashes, whipped by horses’; hooves into powder, I looked at the top
with eyes, by which only a child can look at mother and father – from below, delighted,
unconditionally loving and dissolving. I approached its sole in the afternoon, when the rays of the sun glided along the snowy peak, knocking out sparks. I approached its sole at night when the top was showered with stars, and it seemed to me that this was a solid canvas along which there was only one single road to the sky. I saw it at dawn when it changes every second as if trying on an outfit in which it will enter the day. I saw it at sunset – deep, velvety, enveloping. I saw the Mountain when it was not even visible. you are standing at the sole, but the Mountains are not, it’s just that it’s not in a mood today and an amazing thing is that not every guest-traveler reveals her best face.

I kissed its stone soles and cried when it was painful and hard for me when it seemed that there was
nowhere to go but to the top, to where, there is less air but a lighter and more enlightened soul, a
cleaner and clearer mind, and people are stronger and more reliable.
In this Mountain there is a nerve – powerful, tow-shaped, it is woven into roots that go deep into the
very heart of the earth, and being filled with energy there, carry it throughout the massive body,
sharing it generously with stone, water, air, man, horse, dog… with everything that becomes
somehow involved in it. For its long, more than three millionth century, it stood one step below
God, but did not move away from man, and remained the Shelter of the Ark, salvation. And we are
going to the top and ask the Mountain for permission to get on the step below God. Perhaps this is
impudent, but why not, if the Mountain lets itself in, gives the best experiences, “windows” in often
severe weather, and then for a long time or never let you go, because a spiritual contact is made
between you and the Mountain. The Mountain becomes your personal altar, on which you carry a
heavy and painful burden, but more often reach the top weightless and radiant, because for three
days of the way to the summit you changed your mind, comprehended, weighed, laid out, left, threw
away.
Man’s life is like this Mountain. Before it was born, the bowels of the earth turned, twisted, burned.
The mountain grew from millennium to millennium, from stone to stone, layered. And then it was
again twisted, burned, and Little Mountain, a cub appeared nearby, – so fragile, but wayward. They
are separated and connected by a gorge, they hold each other, hand in hand. A striking phenomenon
is that there is not a single ridge around the mountains, they are two – Big and Small, unequal loners,
and only on the other side of the border, are visible the four peaks of the body, which, according to
legend, were the sisters of the Mountain, but they quarreled and parted. It is said that once the height
of a foreign sister reached seven thousand, but a powerful explosion occurred, which proves us a
huge, more than two-kilometer crater and a vast territory of several tens of kilometers, the so-called
volcanic belt.

So many times I have approached the Mountain when it was impossible to approach because at its
feet there were feuds, intrigues, battles, blood was spilled and the government of the invaders,
entering the struggle with the dominant population, finds the opportunity to make climbing difficult
for everyone else, or even closes the Mountain. Then I approach the Mountain in dreams – frequent
and long, often continuing from night to night. These are dreams filled with longing and pain;
dreams returning to the first-born, to the first steps on land, to the love of all things, living things,
the love that breathes life into everything that surrounds us. Existential experiences turn dreams into
reality, and then everything turns into a mortal life: I am not me, I am much older, stronger, more
powerful, my legs, like roots, they go deep into the earth and merge with that vein that nourishes the
Mountain.
I will remember for a long time how at the time, when the Mountain was closed for us, at the hour
of oblivion I was going to it in some decrepit wagon. The cart creaked, moaned, threatening to fall
apart at any moment. The horse, dropping its head, barely trudged, reconciled with fate. The
catastrophic impoverishment of the region, and not a single living soul. The impressions of places
left by life are the most depressing – as if driving through a rocky field in which every stone is a
head. Are you afraid to look around so as not to meet a frozen look, but your lips are praying, your
lips are asking: “Mountain, take up these souls, free them from stone shackles, from bloody tears,
give them the right to become your angels, which certainly will not sit idle – they will turn into
wings for those who are exhausted along the way, whose will to live has dried up, like the sources in
this region, who have lost support and do not believe that they can go. Mountain, take and lift up
these souls, set them free until a raven has flown up who does not care what to sit on and what to
peck … Mountain, take, exalt … “;
I was leaving for the mountainous region from the steppe region, where my father and mother
remained in a deplorable state: they did not want to, they did not want to let their child go far away.
I drove through the autumn with its rustling, then slushy roads. I went through the winter, and the
wind threw snowballs at me, shook the wagon from side to side, and it creaked, but trudged. I went
through the spring, this spring was without birds, but filled with the clink of streams, sometimes
turning into violent spring rivers that demolish all the obstacles along the way, playfully, drag giant
stones; it turns out that my old horse can swim, and the decrepit wagon can go by ship.
I went through the summer – sultry, lifeless, dusty. I went until on the horizon, in the strip of the
outgoing day, I saw Mountain. Its slopes glistened with brown, sometimes black oxide, and the
snowy peak was redistributed in the sunset rays. The joy that gripped my soul made me light,
weightless. Turns out I can fly! But why am I so calm in this, perhaps, still alien place? Tactile
sensations deeply buried in my memory: no, I don’t fly, I stand in the arms of my father and mother,
who in turn are firmly rooted in the firmament: I close my eyes, freeze, I feel the roughness of the
earth, but no, not the earth, but the parental hands, hardened by hard peasant labor, but warm with
their rough and dry heat. Everything native came together in one place and gave rise to a new one,
peace, and life, harmony, and hope, faith, and will.

WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM   text by Elena Shuvaeva-Petrosyan; Translated by Maria Petrosyan