Astarjian: Tales of Winter (Part II)

I had to stay home. A Nor-Easter had paralyzed Boston except for emergency services; the governor had ordered it so. Billy had plowed some 14 inches of snow from my driveway only an hour before, yet there were two inches on the ground masking the black macadam, blocking passage or making it hazardous to pass at best.

In some areas the wind was blowing 30 or more miles an hour, yet in my village, like the state of New Hampshire itself, it was more sedate; tangentially blowing snow would periodically fall the way one wishes for a romantic Christmas, straight down, undisturbed. Yet elsewhere it was raising hell, snapping electrical lines and converting homes into freezers for days at a time.

I liked the scenery, storm and all! The white blanket brought some warmth to the soul. One could hear his inner voices magnified into sounds, clear and unadulterated, dominating the external noise, telling the winter stories of yesteryears, and the aspirations yet to come.

I could hear my medz mama and my father describe their winters—that of Cilicia, starting with autumn preparations of bulgur, basterma, kavourma, and sujuk for their bitter five month-long winters in Dikranagerd and Marash. Through them I could feel the fibrillating hearts of persecuted Cilician Armenians who would pray for snow to protect them from the raids of the Kurdish tribes. I could hear the cries and visualize the panic of some 800 Marashtsis who were burned alive in their church by the Turks, melting the snow around it. I could hear the trembling voice of my grandmother describing the Qafla (Deportation) from Dikranagerd (Diyarbakir), her face still wrinkled by fear and agony. Yes! I could see all that fire, torture, agony, and begging for life through the fleeting snow petals.

It is snowing straight down, but not in my soul. What I see is a strong storm, not a calm snowfall. What I feel is anger and disgust when I remember the four winters Eastern Armenians lived through in the early 90s because of the Turkish blockade of Armenia. I can hear the noise of the saws and the thuds of axes chopping down precious green trees to be burned for warmth. I can see the devastation of the landscape and the suffering of humans, the old and the young and the infirm, and then I admire the resilience of the Armenian people.

I am angry and disgusted with this inherited belligerent mentality and attitude of Turkey, and I am angry at some Armenians who cow tow to it even now.

We diasporans felt the pain. We agonized, terrified of the situation where dog chewed human bones. In our warm nests we could feel the chill of our motherland, frozen, mummified. We could do very little to help except to give guilt money, and crowd church pews to ask the Almighty for protection akin to the incinerated Marashtsis.

Then one thinks, even concludes, that Turks could not have dared to blockade and freeze Armenia, if Armenia had been powerful. It then follows that Armenia cannot be powerful if it does not become the hub of the Armenian Nation. Diasporans are far too comfortable to quit their adopted countries, and Armenia is not willing to share the fatherland with “strangers” who are considered to be a threat to their culture and way of life. That is the dilemma! We are one nation under God, divided and dispersed into 190 countries, building that many churches, sometimes two on the same street, opposing one another. Yes, that is the dilemma!

A million and one questions cross my mind as if they were the drifting snowflakes. I cannot help but compare us with other nations who have spilled their blood for decades, even centuries, to regain their fatherland and populate it with their diasporan influx, successfully. Yet will all of our resources we are not there.

Then I hope for a catalyst, some strong political storm, like the blizzard that is before me, to bring all the elements together to form a stronger Armenian Nation that will unite us—the valiant Karabagh, the struggling Javakhk, the Republic of Armenia with its disapora, and Western Armenia.

I watched the snow, sometimes falling tangentially and sometimes straight down. And through it all, I could see the sun, shining again soon.

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian was born in Kirkuk, Iraq. In 1958, he graduated from the Royal College of Medicine and went on to serve as an army medical officer in Iraqi Kurdistan. He continued his medical education in Scotland and England. In 1966, he emigrated to the U.S. In 1992, he served as a New Hampshire delegate to the Republication National Convention in Houston, Texas. For three years Astarjian addressed the Kurdish Parliament in Exile in Brussels, defending Armenian rights to Western Armenia. For three consecutive years, he addressed the American Kurds in California and Maryland. He is the author of The Struggle for Kirkuk, published by Preager and Preager International Securities.
Dr. Henry Astarjian

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  1. Astarjian at his best! I have read some brilliant articles in the Weekly these past few weeks: Mensoian, Astarjian, Aghjayan, and Mouradian need to write more often.

  2. Yes indeed,beautifully described,the THEN and the NOW.But lends  an ear to the last paragraphs  of  his,which i sum up as a CHALLENGE.Who?
    Nobody,all are busy as he further up paints with their contemporary lifestyles,though to not be so harsh and negative,i would say some feeble tries are being made to aid Patria(s).
    While ,this servant of the Armenian people, here or  on other forums ,in the press, now and then has reminded  us that there is a way out of the DILEMMA Henry mentions:-
    That  of mustering up up our both Human Resources and Economic Power in Diaspora(s)through  First  of all a crystalization mode:-Into 16 fields  of profdessions  in which Armenians are mainly  engaged,thus acquiring SOCIAL FORMATION…
    Flor  that  is what  we lack.You see Medical Health profession is  one thing, Construction field Profession another, this  as  an example.What is more  since  more  than 30 years I have been advocating  .First  time in Asbareez  beginning  1978/9  under title:-
    FOUR PRECONDITIONS FOR THE ARMENIAN DIASPOR:-.Explanation in brief what  4..
    We  have 2 only, the Spriritual,the Political parties only.We lack SOCIAL FORMATION,which I find best venue is through Grlouping into Prof.Colleagues  Assoc. PCA´s. <SECOND   ,we lack Concerted ECONOMIC POWER.Latter, can be acquired  through the PCA´s.  5  On the scene already ,the health /Medicañl, The Bar, The Sportive , The engineers& sciences and Jewelleers(laater to enlap all furnishings.The 10 more such as travel /trransport,. Banking 6 Finance, etc.,
    Through the Elite(3 persons elected for their 3 merits, Being most advanced in prof. most Economically and most culturally and with networking capacity the Interprofession Elite comes on stage,rather enters into national affairs Arena  alongside the Politico and spiritual,thus forming REAL PARTICIPATION AND REPRESETNATION. Then the PCA´s establish the covted  NATIONAL INVESTMENT TRUST  FUND,first the Nucleus by our 5/6magnates.This will inspire  confidence when a Billion dollars  invdestment Fund is formed  in Geneva,Ch and governed by them their monetary experts encouragind all our Millionaires to invest, all the wasy down to the Thousand dollars  investors..
    For cher  ami, dear friend  without ECONOMIC POWER  supported  by more  than a 100,000  pca  MEMBERS we are nobody and cannot achieve anything.
    With mucho respeto,and
    Hama Haigagani SIRO,
    Guytzag  Palandjian,
    P.S. write to me if you have overcome AArmenian J syndrome at

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