Anush Naggashian: “Armenia is the diamond that I inherited from my grandmother and my ancestors”

It’s June, and the heat in Yerevan is unprecedented. I’m sitting at a café next to Republic Square and talking to a young talented singer by the name of Haik Mkhoyan, and right when Haik is telling me about the reactions after his performance of Komitas’s song at the Balkan Folk competition in Bulgaria, I hear the Armenian song “Kilikia”, and the singer’s voice is so familiar…There are others singing along with her. I turn around and see Diaspora Armenian poet, educator and reciter Anush Naggashian sitting at the table next to us. Judging from the way the people around her were dressed, they were foreigners. We join the group and are introduced to the former students of Anush’s mother. They are the descendants of Armenians with blonde hair and blue-green eyes.

Hayern Aysor: Anush, let’s start with you since Herman and Antranig are your friends.

Anush Naggashian: Herman and Antranig came from Istanbul to study in Jerusalem. There was a boarding school called Taturyan Boarding School, the purpose of which was to bring Armenian children from Turkey and teach them Armenian. My mother was the director of this school, and that’s how we met. They’re like my brothers. They’re currently in Armenia to enjoy the beautiful summer, go sightseeing and attend the wedding of the son of one of our friends from the Taturyan School. Can you imagine?  We last saw each other 43 or 44 years ago, and today we were lucky to meet in the Homeland. I would always ask about the boys. My mother kept their photos, and we would always look at them. One day, I found them on Facebook. I had always thought of organizing a reunion in Jerusalem. May God help my mother live a long life. She is getting older and always hopes to see her students someday. I’m currently working on a book devoted to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. I didn’t manage to finish it before April 24th, but I’ll finish it and start working on a book devoted to the students of Taturyan School. It’s very important because the boys, who spoke Turkish and Kurdish and didn’t know anything about their identity, learned to speak Armenian, got married to Armenians and started families, serve at Armenian churches and are culturally active, and they achieved all this thanks to the Taturyan School of Jerusalem.

Herman Eroian, Switzerland: My roots trace back to Bitlis where Saroyan was born. I lived in Istanbul until 1972 and then moved to Jerusalem. This is my second visit to Armenia. It’s nice, majestic and marvelous. I visited Karabakh and am very charmed by the exotic nature. I love Lake Sevan and the area near the lake. I have a son. Unfortunately, he doesn’t speak Armenian because my wife is non-Armenian. I owe it to my roots, my love for Armenian and the Taturyan School of Jerusalem for my knowledge of Armenian. In Jerusalem we learned Armenian history, literature, religion and Armenian songs.

Antranig Torosian: I have been living in Stuttgart, Germany for the past 32 years. My parents are from Istanbul. My parents’ relatives also became victims of the Armenian Genocide. My father has told me a lot about that. Unfortunately, my parents are deceased. I received my primary education in Istanbul, after which I went on to study in Jerusalem and later in Germany. This is also my second visit to Armenia. I love Yerevan, especially Republic Square. I love the water in Yerevan. I have an Armenian family. My wife is an Armenian from Istanbul. We have two sons who also speak Armenian. We are in Armenia to participate in an Armenian wedding. It’s a nice occasion and a good opportunity to be in an Armenian environment. Anush is the one who brings us all together. In Istanbul we would attend an Armenian school and speak Armenian at home, but we were prohibited from learning Armenian history and literature at school. We learned Armenian history and literature in Jerusalem.

Hayern Aysor: The Centennial of the Armenian Genocide seems to have shocked the whole world. It seems as though it became a year of acknowledging the Armenians. Do you think the day of restitution will come? Will Armenians set foot on the Historic Homeland someday?

Anush Naggashian: If the Turks deny the Armenian Genocide, it means that they acknowledge it because a person denies something that he or she has acknowledged, not something that doesn’t exist.

Herman Eroian: I believe the Historic Homeland will be ours once again. There is still hope. What matters to me the most is to make Armenia strong today so that it flourishes and the people live happily. Only after that will our country grow and become strong and will we achieve our goals.

Antranig Torosian: I would like to see and believe in that day. It’s not easy, but I want it and believe in it.

Hayern Aysor: What does the Homeland mean to you? 

Anush Naggashian: The Homeland is my essence. I can’t imagine anyone without a homeland. The Homeland is what my ancestors built, what they left, and it’s what I’m going to leave for my inheritors. Each person can have dozens of jewels, but each person should have a diamond inherited from his or her mother. Armenia is the diamond that I have inherited from my grandmother and my ancestors.

Antranig Torosian: The Homeland is everything for me. It means completeness, security and something to go crazy for. We will settle in Armenia someday.

Herman Eroian: For me, the Homeland is the force that helps us survive in foreign countries. For me, the Homeland is Van, Bitlis, Mush…

Hayern Aysor: Dear Armenians, I met you while you were singing. So, my last question is about songs. Which is your favorite Armenian song?

Anush Naggashian: I love the song “Lerner Haireni” (Armenian Mountains) sung by Hovhannes Badalyan.

Antranig Torosian: I love all Armenian songs, but the song “Erebuni-Yerevan” is something else.

Herman Eroian: I love the poem “Yes Im Anush Hayastani” (My Sweet Armenia), which is also a song.

Hayern Aysor: And so, the interview with my Diaspora Armenian compatriots longing for the homeland began and ended with songs.

Karine Avagyan



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