A life story-Victoria Rayisyan

Our…homeland was emptied of us!

But…not one second, not one instand

Did we become emptied of our homeland.

We were killed in our homeland,

But the homeland didn’t die in us,

No, it lives another life….

Paruyr Sevak

The pages of Armenian history are full of tragedies and heroic acts. The greatest of those tragedies and the one that remains a scar in the history of the Armenian people is the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Turks in 1915. That planned and organized crime took the lives of millions of Armenians and changed the destinies of numerous people…They were destinies that would probably be different, if things didn’t turn out the way they did. With the longing for the “Promised Land” in their hearts, the “birds” of the Armenian people “flew” to different countries, and the Diaspora and territory grew and expanded. Establishing communities in the Diaspora, most of them later “flew” to Mother Armenia. The first swallows in the Homeland brought good tidings for the start of a new life, and people determined their future lives.

Victoria Papazian-Resian (Rayisian) was one of those who “flew” and created a new “nest” in the Homeland. Victoria was born in 1915 in Aleppo to the family of famous sculptor Megerdich Papazian from Tigranakert and Ovsanna Papazian. The statue of Noubar Pasha in Egypt was created by her father, Megerdich Papazian. After graduating from the co-ed secondary school in Latakia, Victoria went on to study at the Armenian Lyceum of Beirut. During her years of study, the school principal was Nigol Aghbalian, and the vice-principal was Levon Shant. The attentive student gained great knowledge from Levon Shant. She learned and became fluent in four languages.  Levon Shant noticed the smart and bright girl, and knowing that she was an orphan, expressed the desire to adopt her. However, the girl lived with her uncle, Krikor Papazian, and Shant’s desire remained simply a memory. Victoria remembered her demanding, yet very kind teachers and took pride in the fact that they had been her teachers. The girl was gifted with a wonderful, God-given voice. She sang the songs of her ancestors, had the talent of painting and created paintings portraying the land of her ancestors that was a dream for the girl, a beautiful myth, fairy tale. In Jerusalem Victoria got married to a marvelous man by the name of Sarkis and spent all the difficult years of her life with him.

This is the short biography of my heroine, Mrs. Victoria, whom I met years ago and wrote down everything she told me…These are simply facts, but the odyssey of her life is actually a touching story of her dark days spent as an orphan. Whenever she talked about her parents, the white-haired woman would cry like a baby and would wipe the tears rolling down. She would tell everything in detail, in a sequence and in beautiful Western Armenian. Sometimes she would reminisce and take us to the days of the Genocide of 1915 when innocent people, young and old, ladies and women, mothers, fathers and children were falling victim to the yataghan…

She would talk about the tragic story of the family of her husband, Sarkis Resian (they were renamed Rayisian after settling in Soviet Armenia), which Victoria had heard from her sister-in-law Mariam, who had survived by a miracle. “They annihilate 148 members of a family at night, burning screaming children in the flames of a fire as well…They don’t spare disabled persons and pregnant women. By annihilating a family, they rob our properties. My son, Sarkis and I were the ones who survived by a miracle. That night, our Turk neighbor, whose wife was an Armenian, found out what was being planned and called me to her house to make bread. My Sarkis was with me. That night, our family was in flames. The next day, by hiding gold in our shoes, Mariam and her husband hid our identity and took us out of Tigranakert in non-Armenian clothing.”

Later, Victoria, who gave birth to 7 children, including 2 daughters and 5 sons, healed the “wounds” of being an orphan by experiencing the joy of motherhood. It seemed as though everything was on the right track, but Sargis Resian, who had lost the Historic Homeland and was a member of the immigration committee in those years, kept thinking of Armenia…

In 1947, the “Pobeda” steamship landed on the coasts of the Black Sea, and the deported Armenians rejoiced. They were soon accommodated in different regions of Armenia. The Resians settled in the Aygepan village of Vedi region. They had a chimney, and the children would fill the home and the snowy garden of cherry trees with excitement. Later, they moved to Yerevan, and their life continued with happy and sad days, births and deaths…The children grew up, became parents, grandparents, and Grandmother Victoria, showing all the bitterness of life in the furrows of her forehead and on the wrinkles on her face, with her hands on her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, enjoyed growing old, something that the Creator had given (“…Oh! If only my Karo, my Yeghias and my Gevorg were living and didn’t die from hunger and illnesses.”

Her only dream was to see her son Boghos in the United States, even for the  last time.

…The white-haired Armenian woman was embroidering a series of pearls that looked like they weren’t handmade. She would tell the legend of her story, read the volumes of classic Russian and Armenian writers. Who knows? Perhaps she was rereading “The Bible” after having read it so many times and murmuring “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”

…One of the remnants of the history of the Armenian people passed away. She would have turned 100 today. She passed away with the name of her late husband on her lips and with the murmur for the dream “We have to go to our home, our sweet land”.

Karine Avagyan




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