The Baghdasaryans_Tkhkut (Meghri)

July 5, 2007



By Aris Ghazinyan

 

Unlike “big white”, the “landrace” swine is not distinguished with sharp smell: it is more like its wild kin – a “living plough” of the Syunik forests. Like the wild bore it knows how to prick up its ears, but also sharpen its fangs. Probably it is poor smell that makes the landrace, domesticated a long time ago, selflessly peck the foot of the tree, instinctively drawn by Daily Nut. But alas… The pig was illiterate, and thus was unable to realize one common thing – a tree easy to tear asunder in no way could be oak. It was maple, as the village to which it was taken only ten days ago from Minjevan was called not Kaghnut (a derivative from Oak in Armenian), but Tkhkut (from maple).

 

It is probably worth noting that in created conditions even literary recognition wouldn’t save the stubborn piglet: the thing is that even in the Concise Armenian Encyclopedia published in 2003 this populated area is not mentioned in the administrative-territorial division of the Syunik marz, nor in the list. Therefore, by rights of the pig’s unawareness it was excusable, especially as it was searching for not only nuts under the maple tree it gnawed, but Hope: the faith of the landrace indeed was hidden in sodden black earth.

 

Seven decades ago on the same sodden black earth a house was built with the hands of an unnamed villager that today is perhaps one of the most deprived hubs in today’s Armenian world.  The unknown builder, who undoubtedly also had faith and hope, today is himself black earth. Like the village, which although not mentioned in the Armenian Concise Encyclopedia, however contrary to logic, does exist. Some call it virtual reality…

 

Anyhow, since Tkhkut does not amount to an administrative-territorial unit, it is advisable to rename it Pyunik – Phoenix in Armenian: at least there are two households for every maple tree that have risen from the ashes here. Martun Baghdasaryan’s family is one of those households: to his lot fall half a maple-tree, under which the silly bore searches for hazelnuts everyday.

 

By the way, about trees: this village situated on the hillsides of the Meghri mountain chain greets its rare visitors with a giant green nut-tree, under which, however, it is impossible to see elderly men, the owners of the village, in a round dance and making fun around the tree. There is no gray-haired idle person in Tkhkut, the village’s tradition is somewhat different, here young strays of the reviving  Motherland admonish their children: “Well done, children, but don’t live like us.”

 

Of the young aliens of the Armenian world who have left their home place in search of a living is 43-year-old Martun Baghdasaryan: still 10 years ago he, together with his wife Alvard Hovakimyan and five children, lived in Kapan. “I was the age of Christ,” Martun jokes today. “Of course, I didn’t found a teaching and did not have a habit of walking on water waves. Moreover, I myself became a victim of different waves of the transition period, which especially cunningly blow in the mountain passes of Syunik. Waves ??? here indeed blow…”

 

The idea of moving to Minjevan was born in the whirlpool of widespread unemployment and was like a lifeline offered by the fate: in 1996 the program of settlement in liberated territories was still encouraged from state tribunes and especially for large families it was promised to give shelter, land, employment, privileges…

 

“Mariam was nine years old, Ruzan was six, twins Meri and Manuk were three, and Meline was newborn… And in these conditions we decided to move to Minjevan,” Alvard says. Then smiling, she looks at her husband. – “Waves ??? here indeed blow…”

 

“It remains little before this lifeline thrown by the fate stifles us, it has been turned into a knot,” Martun Baghdasaryan says.  The promised land-plot, of course, was allotted to the large family, but the territory was totally deprived of water and was not fit for cultivation. Therefore the cunning fate offered Martun the only solution – to become a paid land worker and sing his ploughman’s song together with other immigrant swans (in this case it is perhaps more proper to say ugly chickens).

 

About the chickens:  Marine and Melanya were born in the Baghdasaryan family in Minjevan, today they are five and two years old respectively. The thankless seasonal job of the land worker surely could not ensure a deserved human life for the young 9-member family, especially that five of the children already attended school, in the same school where Alvard Hovakimyan was a charwoman, getting 5,000 drams (about $13) for her job. By the way, one cow was transferred to her account to the family and a loan for cattle was registered – 120,000 drams with a repayment period of 10 years. The cow died soon…

 

Alas, turbid water that was lavishly beaten from state tribunes could not irrigate the land-plot of the Baghdasaryans. “The biography of the children in Minjevan was measured in buckets – who brought how many buckets of water home,” Alvard says…

 

The idea to move to Tkhkut was born in the whirlpool of widespread unemployment and again became a lifeline: in 2006 the program of settlement in the liberated territories was no longer encouraged from state tribunes, and especially for large families it was not promised to give shelter, land, employment, privileges…

 

This time the fate offered Martun Baghdasaryan a new option – work in the neighboring Aygedzor gold mines. The savings of a decade allowed once a paid land worker not only to buy 15 goats and 3 pigs, but also to win many people’s confidence. “I think that soon we will also repay the loan for cattle in Berdzor,” Martun says. “Only in that case can Alvard quit the registration at Minjevan, which is administrative subject to Berdzor.”

 

The realism of this household perhaps is limited to this: the promised job is still only “a golden dream”, and the nine-member family, which during the past 10 years proved able to challenge widespread sponging every day and preserve as a healthy and living cell, today is homeless. Seven decades ago the house built by an unnamed villager is, perhaps, the most miserable construction of the Armenia world. Meanwhile, even to buy these ruins left a long time ago the Baghdasaryans need $1,000: this is the price of the Odyssey of one large Armenian family…

 

Therefore, the unawareness of the pig is excusable: especially that under the maple-tree it gnaws it is looking not only for nuts, but Hope: the faith of the landrace indeed was hidden in sodden black earth. Some will, of course, approach such qualifications with reservations, preferring to call the battery of the soul of the untiring pig an instinct. Perhaps…But one should know that faith and instinct in Tkhkut are very much alike: as a state of mind… and as a tenor of life…