cold and indifferent sun lights Gagik Gasparyan's
apartment through a narrow window. The place he
made can hardly be called an apartment as it lacks
most of the basic needs for living.
Gagik says he's not afraid of the cold; considering
things he has seen, he fears little. In 1989 Gagik
joined the famous "Arabo" brigade in
the village of Khachik and participated in the
liberation of Mardakert, Lachin, Shushi and other
Karabakh sites of vicious fighting with Azerbaijan.
"The one who used to sleep in the rain of
deadly GRAD missiles, will somehow withstand here
as well," he says. "Those days none
of us could imagine where we had been going to
go, when during the hottest minutes of the battle
we had no weapons to defend ourselves. It seemed
we had been infected with unexplainable fever
He was 23 then and it seemed fate protected him.
Now not even fate is his friend.
Gagik was wounded and returned to Armenia in
1993, expecting to find his family, recuperate
and return to fight.
"When I had returned home I found myself
on the street," he says. "My family
- mother and two sisters - had no home and my
wife with our son was living in her mother's place.
We rented an apartment and began living all together,
however, there was no job and we had no money
to pay for an apartment and soon we were expecting
to find ourselves on the streets again."
As a participant of the war Gagik Gasparyan referred
to the Yerkrapah (Defender of the Motherland)
Volunteers Union for help, however, he got only
an advice from there - to find an abandoned house,
break the door and began living there.
"There were many magnificent abandoned houses
but I couldn't enjoy something that had been created
by other people. I found out that there were emergency
houses in Shinararneri district. And residents
of those apartments either had been provided with
other apartments or had just left for other places."
After he had found that semi-dilapidated building
in one of the remote districts of Yerevan he surrendered
himself to despair. On the first floor, where
nobody lived, there was only one wall standing
and the whole apartment that appeared outside
was full of rubbish and sewer pipes.
"I couldn't imagine how I would be building
an apartment from this rubbish with my wounded
leg and spine but I had no other choice,"
financial and physical help of his friends Gagik
filled a huge hole under the building with several
tons of dirt. He raised a wall, dug a sewerage
ditch and set up his meager house.
"My poor mother had been selling lemons
in the market from dawn to dusk and she was managing
to buy only bread not to become weak," he
says. "I wasn't even thinking of getting
normal medical treatment."
In addition to leg and spine injuries, vision
in one eye is -12 as a result of battle contusions.
He only recently had shrapnel removed from his
legs and is left with a constant ache to remind
him of the bitter years of war.
After solving the problem of making his so-called
apartment, another period of misfortune had started
in Gagik's life. Those once seen as heroes in
"Arabo" became enemies of the State
and many of Gagik's comrades in arms and his commander
"By chance I heard in transport that such
an order was adopted," Gagik says. "I
reached my apartment, sold everything I had and
escaped to Moscow."
In Russia the pursuit continued and Gagik had
to escape to Poland and later to Germany.
"I reached Germany illegally. I was walking
for days through forests and swamps. I was passing
the borders creeping. Once I even fell into a
river in frosty February but God was protecting
me again. I reached the place and demanded political
asylum from corresponding bodies."
In 1994, after living for two months in Germany,
Gagik was deported.
"I didn't know where to go and where to
look for my wife and son, in Moscow or in Kharkov?
My inner voice told me that they were in Kharkov.
I went to the place where my wife's parents were
living. There was nobody there. One of my acquaintances
told he had seen my mother and sisters. I wandered
throughout the whole city and found them. However,
I hadn't found my wife and child.
"Later my mother told me how they accidentally
found my wife and son sitting near a wall of one
of Kharkov's stores. My wife was pregnant and
my son was already three year old. Two hours before
my visit to Kharkov my mother had sent them to
Yerevan so that at least there could be somebody
with her during childbirth.
says he spent his last money to return to Yerevan.
But once there, he found his wife unwilling to
take him in because of all the family had gone
through because of him.
"I couldn't provide them with a normal apartment
and there, where I live, they can't live,"
he says groaning.
Spared through some of the war's bloodiest battles,
Gagik Gasparyan has gone from hero to outcast,
surviving an enemy's onslaught to be challenged
now by faceless attacks.
"I don't know whether I'm divorced or married.
I don't know whether I have child or I don't.
I don't know whether I live or
37 year old."