- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 25, 2003 

NOT Outside Eye: The joy of birth and its meaning to an ageless family

Editor's note: Typically in this space you read "Outside Eye" about the observations of a non-Armenian and his adopted home. This week's essay is by no means from the "outside" as one of ArmeniaNow's staff shares some thoughts about his new son.


Little 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 mouth.

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 since then.

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 legitimate fees.

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 since.
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 among Diaspora.

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.

  "Turkish Flag"
Click on the photo above to enlarge


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  Photo of the week
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Pain in Paint

Yesterday (April 24) members of Mihr youth organization gathered in a park near the State Conservatory where they used black (tragedy) and red (blood) paint to depict Mt. Ararat from its western side. On a white canvas they painted names of villages where Genocide took place.



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