April 24, Armenian National Day of Mourning

The Monument at Dzidzernagaberd, last night. Photo: Sh. Melkonian

The Monument at Dzidzernagaberd, last night. Photo: Sh. Melkonian

I thought, How strange to finally meet one’s past: to simply meet it, the way one might finally acknowledge a person who had been in one’s company a long while. So, it’s you!

I was standing by myself beneath the overhanging slabs of the Monument, looking into the fire. I remember thinking that if I had had a flower in my hand I would gladly have thrown it into the fire, but that I hadn’t remembered to pick one.  My eyes went out to the open field beyond the fire, the field of yellow flowers.  I thought that it didn’t matter about the flower; I thought suddenly that I was home.  It was the flattest, simplest, lightest of feelings. I thought, So this is what it’s all about.

And then I felt my father’s hand in mine. It was so strong a feeling that today I can almost (but not quite) recover that imaginary touch.  But what I responded to was not merely the “touch”–I had felt that before, at many moments in my life.  One of the key memories of my childhood had been a nearly tactile recollection of being pulled by the hand (were we running? walking?) by my father down an unremembered street–an unremembered time except for the pull of the hand, even his face out of sight, his expression unknown, only his arm extending from a dark overcoat.

But I knew that this time it was different, and as I stood there I knew that it would always afterward be different (as it has been.)  For the hand I felt was not pulling me; it was the hand of a man which I had briefly held in my own one afternoon in New York, the hand of my father dying….

(Michael Arlen Jr.,  Passage to Ararat, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Dzidzernagabert, Yerevan. Photo: wikipedia

Dzidzernagabert, Yerevan. Photo: wikipedia

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About Taline Voskeritchian

Writing teacher at Boston University; translator (from Arabic and Armenian); prose writer; occasional editor; incurable wanderer.
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