NARA

YEREVAN, Summer 2012: I feel there isn't anybody else who knows her inner self as deeply her. I feel there can never be any moment like those spent walking with her. I am holding Nara, and she is holding her daughter Natalie. We walk along the dark tunnel as if on purpose, to be in her state just enough. I ask her to sing a song as the acoustics is  good, and she sings the perfect song. We decide that we should meet again, and I think she hopes that we will, and I don’t quite understand how she feels about the whole idea of us meeting, of us ever becoming friends. I then feel guilty if I don’t call her frequently. I feel guilty if I don’t have enough to spend when I am with her.

Nara grew up in a boarding school. She was born blind in 1982. Her parents visited her sometimes but they were almost out of touch. Nara gave birth to Natalie in 2009 and has been raising her completely alone since then. She now takes her to an sand painting school and to swimming lessons several days a week.

Nara is her apartment. This one small pink room and one unknown bathroom. She is there and she knows, but sometimes not quite, all things and their whereabouts. The clothes, each packed in a bag, a recognisable plastic bag, in a recognisable spot. Hopefully to be remembered. Newer clothes are remembered easier.

Nara thinks and acts in terms of daughter and in terms of self. She lives with the thought of their unity and sleeps with that thought as well. At night, she breastfeeds without waking up, small Natalie always in her arms. Natalie is always and everywhere in her arms.

The kind of mother Nara is, I am definitely not. She is strict and she is loving, and with the help of this strictness she is able to go out into the street with Natalie and make sure that her daughter is always next to her.

Outside might have been frightening, but no longer. Natalie still mostly in her arms, Nara walks to meet a friend. She comes much earlier than the planned time, because she doesn’t know the time, but knows enough not to be late.

She is blind and I can’t know her situation, so she’s a little rude sometimes, the kind of person who will tell you everything right there. Or even if she doesn’t want to hurt you, she will still make sure you know what she is thinking. Like an old person who does not have much longer to live and can be rude to you, she does not have her own important thing.

Nara has no one but herself to give account to, and that makes her very natural and open. She is exceptional not just because most of Armenians impaired to that extend limit themselves far more. Her victory is not only over her blindness. It is also in her personal will to move and be active. It is a consequence of unwanted and wanted disconnections from relatives, and the challenge to live a proper life.

Some time ago her doctors told her that there was a chance that she could see, even if only just a little. Nara carried this strange and unbelievable chance in her mind for many months, until one day she went forward with it. She called some people she knew to come with her to the hospital, including me. And as she was about to be taken upstairs for her surgery, it so happened that there was no one to stay with Natalie, and Nara asked me. So instead of going up with Nara to take photos, one of the reasons why I was there, I stayed in the room with Natalie who was in bed getting ready to sleep.

While I was sitting next to Natalie and telling her a story, I felt clear and pure moments of giving. Natalie’s serious attentive eyes are enough memory to sustain me for many years.

As for Nara’s surgery, it did not bring about immediate changes to her sight, but one morning something amazing might happen for Nara.

 

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