Book Review | Delia: A Survivor’s Story

“I realized that we die once and live every day. Life is truly a gift so why not make the most out of it?” Ariana Papazian

On April 2, 2022, almost 20 months after the Beirut Port blast which devastated Lebanon’s capital Beirut, I attended a book launch at Aaliya’s Books for Delia: A Survivor’s Story by Ariana Papazian.

Aaliya’s Books is an intellectual coffee shop located on the cosmopolitan Gemmayzeh Street, not far from the Port which was heavily damaged from the August 4, 2020 blast. After the blast, the neighborhood turned into a ghost city. More than 200 people died. Thousands were injured, and an estimated 300,000 people were left homeless. The trauma of the deadly blast still haunts the country.

I entered the coffee shop to find many people buying the book and reading and discussing it with each other. I noticed the author signing copies, surrounded by her friends, classmates and relatives. I met the author’s father Khajak, who introduced me to his daughter. I couldn’t wait to go back home, so I went to another nearby coffee shop and started reading.

Delia: A Survivor’s Story is full of traumas, memories and emotions. As I turned each page, my eyes sank into oceans of tears. This emotional offering is a story of dealing with grief and the loss of a dear mother and finding solace and healing through writing. Papazian is honest and direct as she shares her family story and how her parents, especially her mother, had a very strong bond with her and shaped her way of life and thinking. She highlights the role of the family as a key foundation in Lebanon.

Papazian describes personal memories she treasures with her mother. There was a special bond between them that went beyond a traditional mother-daughter relationship. Both were like close friends who used to share stories and concerns with each other. Her mother used to tell her that excelling in school was not enough for a successful and bright future. Life experience was also important. Papazian writes that her mother made it her mission never to allow anyone to drown in their misery or problems without imagining solutions or becoming a source of motivation.

Throughout the book, Papazian explains the importance of friendship and how her friends provided her emotional support in times of necessity. She writes, “A (best) friend is someone who overlooks your broken fence and admires the flowers in your garden.” She also explains how her friends always overlooked her darkest fences and focused on her inner goodness. They never felt pity for her; instead, they smiled and took her mind away from her traumatic experiences.

She ends the book with a letter to her mother. “Despite everything I have been through, the most valuable lesson I have learned is to be grateful for the life you gave me. I also made a life promise to you; to live my life the best way I can, the way you wished for me to live it and to be happy…”

For the young and brave author, despite her life being “messy and confusing,” it was also unique, incredible and inspiring. Papazian teaches us that in our life we die once, but we live everyday.

Weekly columnist Yeghia Tashjian and Ariana Papazian, author of Delia: A Survivor’s Story
Yeghia Tashjian

Yeghia Tashjian

Yeghia Tashjian is a regional analyst and researcher. He has graduated from the American University of Beirut in Public Policy and International Affairs. He pursued his BA at Haigazian University in political science in 2013. In 2010, he founded the New Eastern Politics forum/blog. He was a research assistant at the Armenian Diaspora Research Center at Haigazian University. Currently, he is the regional officer of Women in War, a gender-based think tank. He has participated in international conferences in Frankfurt, Vienna, Uppsala, New Delhi and Yerevan. He has presented various topics from minority rights to regional security issues. His thesis topic was on China’s geopolitical and energy security interests in Iran and the Persian Gulf. He is a contributor to various local and regional newspapers and a presenter of the “Turkey Today” program for Radio Voice of Van. Recently he has been appointed as associate fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and Middle East-South Caucasus expert in the European Geopolitical Forum.

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