Raffi Deheryan with his mother.
I want to share my happiness with you, brought
as it was to me by the birth of my first child.
My son is only four days old while I am writing
these lines. He is an extremely helpless little
man that at the moment sleeps in his small bed
with his appetite glutted and a pacifier in his
His mother, Karine, and I have been expecting
him from the end of last month, because the doctor
said he could have come to this world any moment
However, he decided to stay in his shelter as
long as possible. Well there was food and heating
and good conditions in that hiding place, which,
I assure you, was safer than those in the world
he came to.
My son was born on Easter eve.
On Saturday morning we gave my wife and her labor
pains over to the care of Shengavit Medical Center.
We chose the hospital with care. Unlike many other
maternity hospitals here, Shengavit is a private
hospital so of course we have to pay. But there
we knew we wouldn't be demanded for bribes for
staff services so we figure it's worth paying
My mother, who is 63, and I impatiently sat in
the waiting room. Mother had been suffering from
a high temperature but forgot about it when it
came time to go to the hospital.
I wasn't able to sit quiet and I decided to get
out for some air. I heard my wife's cry coming
from the second floor as I got out.
Her touching screams were provoking me to cry
out myself. Some time later another cry replaced
my wife's. I took a deep breath and lit my cigarette.
I called my mother out of the waiting room and
said: "Listen to it granny, this is your
grandchild's cry." You can imagine us embracing
with uninhibited tears on our faces.
I am writing this story on April 23, the day
before the most tragic day for the whole Armenian
nation. I was a little bit concerned that my child
would be born that sad day.
My child and I are heirs of those who suffered
from barbarity. Both my mother's and my father's
ancestors were outcast from their birth place
in Western Armenia. My father's father was Shatakhtsi,
and his mother-Vanetsi. My mother's father was
from Erzrum, and her mother was Kaghzvantsi. Those
who know about Western Armenia have probably heard
about these towns.
My grandparents were children in the times of
migration and were taken to orphans' homes after
they reached Yerevan. When she was nine, one of
my grandmothers woke up in her dead mother's hands
while they were on the migration path.
They have kept these stories and have told them
to the next generations. The only thing they have
dreamed of was to get to their birthplace ever
I have made this dream handed down to me come
true. Last year Karine and I and 30 other Armenians
which were mainly of Western Armenian ancestry
took a 10-day bus trip to Turkey.
We have been to Kars, Ani, Mush, Erzrum, Bitlis.
We have swum in the transparent water of Lake
Van. In the damaged or half-ruined Armenian churches,
we have prayed for our ancestors' souls to rest
and lit candles brought from Armenia.
I hurried to tell everything we had seen and
experienced to my only surviving grandmother,
who is now 83. I told her I had seen her wonderful
birthplace, Avants village on the coast of Lake
Van. I handed her soil brought from Van and smoked
herring from Lake Van. Blessing my eyes and recalling
unkind memories of her own childhood my granny
kissed me through her tears.
Today she shares my happiness for her sixth great-grandson,
Raffi. He carries the name Deheryan, like three
generations before him, named for Deher, the village
my grandfather left as a boy during the Genocide.
My relatives have been asking why he became Raffi,
a name not very popular in Armenia, but more familiar
I myself have heard about only three Raffis,
and all of them are from Diaspora: great Armenian
writer Raffi, politician Raffi Hovannissian, and
one more Raffi -- the hero from "Ararat"
by Canadian Armenian movie director Atom Egoyan.
The last one was the main reason for giving my
child this name.
In the movie young Raffi goes to Western Armenia,
his ancestors' home. There, he films the churches
and monasteries. And in those same churches and
monasteries - about nine months ago - Karine and
I burned incense together.
And one day when we tell that story to our Raffi,
we hope he will be filled with the same love of
his land and family that we feel for ours.