At the time, with tensions over Karabakh heating up, kidnappings were not unusual in this area. But appeals to law enforcement and the ICRC turned up nothing.
Working as a sales clerk, Simonyan brought up her children alone. Two of her daughters went on to attend university. Her son became a truck driver like his father.
This son now undertakes tasks, like house repairs, that would have fallen to his father, but that does not mean that Simonyan acknowledges her husband’s death.
“If he now opens the door and comes in, I won’t be surprised. I’m always waiting for him.”
About a three-and-a-half-hour drive northeast of Ijevan, 63-year-old Shushan Khachikyan, who married straight out of high school, well knows what that wait is like.
After fighting over Karabakh began in the late 1980s, Khachikyan’s husband, Khacik, a Djoghaz reservoir engineer, became one of the men from the couple’s village of Voskevan who volunteered to guard the hamlet. On July 24, 1990, he left for his shift at work and never returned.
Word eventually came from the nearby Azerbaijani village of Baghanis Ayrum that Khachikyan, 40, had been taken hostage.
Even so, for many years, the family didn’t lose hope that Khachikyan would return.
The conflict’s impact lingered in other ways as well. One of the couple’s three sons lost his hand in a landmine explosion; another had his leg badly damaged.
Khachikyan, who now runs a village shop, has not let these events discourage her.
“I brought up all of my three sons and my daughter by myself and tried to be independent. . . I used to carry fruit on my back and sell it to feed them and give them a higher education,” she says. “Today, when people complain about life, I just tell them to go and work.”