“I sing so you can hear my voice again, you my proud shushi!”— Shushan Petrosyan – 2022
The last few weeks have not been easy for the Armenian people, but one would have to look hard to find the times when there were good times for Armenia. The land and the people constantly at war for the last 100 years of modern history have conquered a lot but lost a lot more.
Such destiny leaves a mark on the collective soul of ordinary people who find it hard to explain what is so good about being Armenian these days.
The latest armed conflict in 2020 shook Armenia and its people to the core. The battle for their homeland and, what Armenian’s feel is the crib of their history, was almost won, only for the most devastating turn to occur- Azerbaijan has won. Armenia had lost. And with it, so many Armenian communities and cultural epicenters were lost too.
The general sentiment circulating was one of despair, hopelessness, and disappointment. Armenian people were lamenting the many casualties of the war, those who had to leave their homes and never look back, and the Artsakh history that’s as good as erased now that it fell into Azerbaijani hands.
The final blow that surely broke the Armenian people’s spirit with a resonating sound was losing Shushi. This majestic setting, a citadel city looking at the surrounding valley for centuries, was one of the most important places in the Caucasus.
Populated by readers, philosophers, and musicians, the city was at its peak in the 1800s, and many called it the ”Paris of the Caucasus”. However, most of the population was Armenian, with an Azerbaijani minority.
The city thrived, as unbelievable as it sounds, knowing how there’s no love between these two nationalities. Russian Revolution changed everything and started a tug-and-pull war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over who will claim Shushi. Losing Shushi now, and so irrevocably, left Armenian people angry and despairing.
Those who called Shushi their home for generations were forced to flee from Syrian and Azerbaijani militiamen, unable even to collect those few important things in life- photos, mementos, and icons of the saints protecting their home and family.
All that’s left for the people that fled Shuhi is what’s engraved in their minds, hearts, and souls.
Time may heal all wounds, but there are some wounds beyond healing. But art has a curious way of relieving one’s soul, mending the spirit, and reviving the memories people cling to desperately. This is precisely what Shushan Petrosyan set out to do with her new song ”Shushi”.
A beautiful and sorrowful ode to the city Shushi perfectly conveyed all emotions Armenian’s are now feeling- sorrow, grief, but also hope that once again they will ”still have a wedding in the mountains”. The song’s
lyrics are equal parts despair and hope, but they have the most exciting consequence- Armenian people have finally united over the piece, in agreement that, political affiliations aside, this is what’s common to all of them. The fact that the song was made by such an outstanding human being only amplified the purity of the message it carries.
For it is true, Shushan Petrosyan is nothing if not a role model for love and tolerance. As one of the greatest Armenian singers, even Honored Artist of Armenia, her whole life was dedicated to art and promoting culture in Armenia.
Even her political career as a deputy of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia passed peacefully as she rarely made speeches.
Regardless, Shushan Petrosyan proved she knew a better way to reach Armenians and heal their broken souls. And now that she gave them ”Shushi”, we can only hope it would help Armenian people settle and find a way to one day walk Shushi again.
Next year in Shushi…..