By Ruzanna Amiraghyan


“My mother is ill. Please, do not be surprised and offended if she starts speaking in a loud voice or curse, do not be offended. She is mentally ill, my mother . . .

Petros Avchiev, 14, lives with his mother, Anna, in an apartment block in the town of Masis in the Ararat province.

“I have had my achievements all thanks to neighbors and friends,” the teenager says. “They sometimes give us something to eat, and clothing, shoes, everything, everything… But it is all the same, if I do not do it, who would do for me?”

“Yes, if not my son, what would we have done?” Anna echoes taking a small dog, which she calls Tuzik in her lap. “Who works, you, Peto?” Suddenly she gets surprised, returning to, or fleeing from the reality.

“Please, stop talking, Ma,” the son strictly interrupts his mother with a weak but mutating voice. “I bring medicine for my mother, put it into her coffee so that my mother drinks it.”

Anna, who is sitting without movements but anxious after her son’s reprimand, raises her eyes: “I do not drink medicine.”

“No you drink,” the son rejoins. “I put it in your coffee, and you drink it.”

“But I am not ill, Peto. You think if your mother is like this, she does not understand anything?” Anna frowns at Peto while continuing to stroke the dog.

Anna Avchieva suffers from schizophrenia. She is periodically treated at Nubarashen Mental Hospital, but denies being sick and refuses to get treatment.

Petros’s mother got acquainted with the boy’s future father in Masis and although being aware of his being married and having children she decided to give birth to a child and raise him alone.

In a while Anna developed mental illness and the family burden fell on the boy.

“I work at an Internet service. My friend and I go to homes and collect money and receive our share at the end of the month. At average it makes some 5,000 drams (about $11) a month,” says Petros.

The main source of money is, however, the poverty allowance, the mother’s disability pension, allowance from “Paros”, as well as occasional sums from the town Mayor received when Petros makes periodic applications.

This money suffices for covering only a part of the family needs and taking care of the mother.

“I like studying very much. But I cannot go to school. Besides, I have been expelled from school,” says Petros, with regret. Besides that, he got rid of his school things. “My friend gave me these boots. And I gave all my copy-books to the neighbor, he needed scratch paper.”

“I could not make both ends meet at school. A month ago they called and said if I did not want to go to school, I must go and take my documents from there.”

“Until my fifth form I did well at school. But I also do not want to go, because when the children collect money, I cannot give money, the children laugh at me or feel pity about me. That is why I do not go.

“But I want to study very much. If I manage I wish I could complete school and study to become a hair-dresser. I was promised to be taken to Moscow, where I could work and take care of us. This is why I must study,” says Petros, “At the Sport school of Masis they organize classes for 1,000 drams (about $2.40), I know they do. . . ”


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