It’s October again, Armenian Translators month. We should be grateful and remember and celebrate the Armenian Renaissance of the fifth century with respect and pride. On this occasion, I have a few thoughts to share.
Something has been bothering and eating at me about our Armenian books. A few years ago, a lady was moving to another city, and she told me about her husband’s books. She didn’t know what to do with them, so she called her daughter for advice. “Oh, mama, just throw them out,” was the response.
Recently, a man proud of his Armenian heritage was telling me about his collection of Armenian books. I got excited and asked if I could see them and perhaps borrow one or two to read. “I don’t give my books away!” was the sharp answer. All I could think was, “Just be glad that somebody is asking for an Armenian book to read.” I was not sure if he was being selfish or guarded. Would he rather let them sleep under dust for years without the opportunity to see the light of day and for their messages and ideas to be shared with the world?
Our writers are telling us something that we can learn from. It’s okay if we can’t read Armenian, but we should have RESPECT, (yes, with capital letters), at least. There are so many libraries and colleges in our communities. Why throw them out? Why not donate and share them?
On the map today, Armenia looks like a teardrop, losing ground almost every day. We run the risk of killing our culture. Like one of our writers, Shavarsh Narduni once said, “Hats ou baniri hayerene” (“the Armenian language of bread and cheese”). Let us add boreg, choreg, kheyma, sarma, yalanchi, ishli kufta, lahmajun and paklava – that’s it, we are Armenians.
I lived for 37 years in the historical and beautiful city of Boston full of educational institutions. I worked next to the Boston Public Library. They had a lovely collection of Armenian books, and when I approached the librarian once to check out a book, she said, “Oh, those are too valuable ma’am. You cannot sign those out.” I realized that they valued those books so much that they could not risk their being damaged, and yet we have people in our community who will not share their books and would rather throw them away. Let us now and always be proud, vigilant and responsible for our centuries-old culture and the literature it has produced.