By Ruzanna Amiraghyan
Every time talking about her husband her eyes fill with bitter tears.
Yeghsik’s only goal is to take care of her family.
Two years ago the Asatryans – a family of four – moved to Metsamor from the village of Lernagog. Yeghsik Hakobyan, 30 and her three children aged 13, 12 and 9, rented an apartment in a building where the stench of the damaged sewage is a visit card.
“My husband passed away in 1998. My youngest was born just twenty days before the accident – an accident with my husband in the car,” Yeghsik begins to tell the hard story of her family.
Arkadi, the youngest, is in second grade. He is thin, shortish and pale. The boy lags behind his peers in physical growth because of malnutrition.
Yeghsik’s eyes fill with tears when she tells of her husband, but she, as if with a long drilled will, constrains them and continues. Her husband, who died in an accident at 27, had gained skills for a barber, but had been doing various types of construction work to provide for the family.
Yeghsik’s monthly income is just 54,000 drams ($180). This includes both the 23,000 ($73) of ‘Paros’ social program and the 12,000 drams ($40) of her children’s partial orphanage allowance (for all three), as well as Yeghsik’s salary of 19,400 drams ($64).
Yeghsik has recently been hired as a kitchen worker at kindergarten Number 3 in Metsamor.
Having no means to buy clothes, Yeghsik has put her grandma’s spindle into use.
“I buy wool in the village, twist it, card it, turn it into thread and knit. I have happened to knit a suit and sell it. But I knit mostly for my kids –sweaters, tights, socks and don’t spend money to these kind of things, because I make them at home,” Yeghsik continues and takes the spindle out of the broken dresser.
She takes orders time to time – knits, cleans homes, and does not avoid any kind of job. In summer months, Yeghsik, like many of the residents of Metsamor, takes work in produce fields. “Well, its weeding, seedling, gathering, bringing, various kind of things, whatever is done in the field,” she says about the work that she used to get 3,000 drams ($10) per day for.
The apartment is neat, but misery has done its work. The sombre brown of the walls says more than the residents would. Shabby clothes here and there, a pile of shoes – small and big, doors crunch – as if saying they can’t stand the hardships of life.
Both before and seven years after her husband’s death Yeghsik’s family lived with her parents in Lernagog. After the husbands’ parents divorced, his father got married again and occupied the home with his new family in Bambakashat, where Yeghsik’s husband was born and grew up, but where there was no place for his own family.
Due to family circumstances there appeared to be no place for them in Yeghsik’s parential home either.
“It was simply hard to live there: there was little job there [in Bambakashat]. And my parents’ home, well, it was their home and we had to leave. My brother had to live there with his family, it was his home… so I was forced to go. The house was not small, but, well, it was my parents’ home, my brother’s, and I had to leave it sooner or later. My brother was going to marry. He had stayed unmarried until he turned 40. It was because of me, so I said, well, it’s better we separate – my family and yours, live for yourself. How long could we stay that way? It was not mine in any case,” says Yeghsik.
Yeghsik’s family got a certificate of permanent residence this spring since moving from the village. Owing to the certificate they managed to get the documents for poverty and children allowances.
But the only big dream Yeghsik has ever had is to have a home of her own.
“You have to have a lot of money to buy house, right? I can’t imagine, I can have so much to get a palace. I don’t even want it. But I need a corner of my own not to pay for the rent so that kids are sure it’s theirs, so that I know it’s mine when I hammer a nail.”
Yeghsik sees the future of her family in Metsamor – she does not want to move anywhere else.
“Well it still goes this way, [but] I don’t know [what happens next]. It seems to me I won’t go anywhere from Metsamor. I don’t even want to. It’s quiet here, Metsamor is a good place. I want to always stay here. Although, if there was work sonewhere else I could go there and come back. I don’t want to move from here. I don’t know, there may be work in Hoktemberyan [now, Armavir] or Yerevan. If I could find a job I would go there and be back, but I wouldn’t stay there. I wish I could get proper money so that I manage to achieve my aims,” says Yeghsik. “I don’t need anything else.”