Arman Chirishian: “The homeland is the final landmark of all Armenians, and Aleppo is my life”

I met the interlocutor for another one of my interviews, Arman Chirishian from Aleppo at the Vernisazh flea market where his wonderful silver jewels reminded me of the masterpieces of old Armenian jewelry. Most of the people gathered near his table were viewing his works with admiration, while others were asking him about the pictures on the jewels and the prices. I interviewed Arman in this kind of an environment.

“I have been living in Armenia for the past three-and-a-half years. I am here with my wife and two children, one of whom, Alik, was born in Aleppo. My other son, named after my father Joseph, was born in Yerevan. I am very happy and take pride in the fact that Joseph was born in Armenia and has a birth certificate issued in the Republic of Armenia. Jewelry is our ancestral craft, and for me-an art. In Aleppo I was involved in jewelry. Now I sell silver jewels at the Vernisazh flea market, and most of them are handmade. I am content with the sales, and in general, I have no complaints about my decision to move to Armenia. We live on rent. My wife hasn’t been working since she gave birth to our second child. So, I am the breadwinner. In Aleppo I left my house, store, many relatives (my brother is in Syria) and my friends behind…I am 36 years old, but I have lived in Aleppo for 33 years. I was born and raised there, and so it is obvious that I have memories and long for Aleppo…

Of course, it is hard to forget all that, but there was no other way. The danger was growing day after day. We were first and foremost afraid for our child and everyone else. Many Armenians were killed. Those who stayed in Syria would constantly think that the war would end soon. They lived with hope and faith…Even after peace is fully established, we won’t return. We will stay in Armenia. I am certain that one day all Armenians will gather in the Homeland and will create a big and powerful country.

The Syrian-Armenians who decided to settle in Armenia have two problems, and those problems are related to housing and employment. If these two major problems are solved, I don’t think anyone will go back. Many Syrian-Armenians have already adapted and are slowly getting on their feet. The return to Aleppo will simply be a return to childhood, the teen years, youth and the beginning, but settling in Armenia means both a reassuring future and a right decision. The future of Armenia is in the hands of all Armenians. All of us need to live in the Homeland and build our country…In response to your question of what I feel when I say ��?Armenia’, I can say it in a couple of lines.

“When saying ��?Armenia’, I grow taller,

When saying ��?Armenia’, my lip cracks…”

The homeland is the final landmark of all Armenians, and Aleppo is my life.”

Many Syrian-Armenians live in Armenia with this feeling of optimism. Let us pray to God that they are guided with heart and soul when deciding where they will continue to live and work, which land to cultivate and where to play the Armenian duduk after the Syrian war ends and peace is finally established.

Karine Avagyan

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