BELMONT, Mass. — On November 12, in the bright and inspiring solarium of NAASR’s Vartan Gregorian Building, a dozen children gathered for a children’s book reading of Hovhannes Tumanyan’s folktale “Bochad Aghvesuh” (Պոչատ Աղուէսը/The Fox That Lost Its Tail)
The story was told exquisitely by Meghri Dervartanian, an active and brilliant leader of the Boston Armenian-American community.
Parents were elated last Saturday witnessing their young Armenians coming together to connect through a tale that offers subtext and hidden educational codes. As the saying goes, “tales are told to put children to sleep, and to awaken adults.”
Tumanyan was a literary giant and cultural leader of the late 19th and early 20th century who laboriously compiled, assembled and passed on morals through poems, ballads, folktales, fables, novels and any written form of communication to enlighten the Armenian nation. A popular version of “Bochad Aghvesuh” was published by Nonny Hogrogian as One Fine Day.
Dervartanian’s narration of the legendary writer’s fable was also an opportunity for the inquisitive young group to learn the Armenian alphabet.
One of many themes that travels through “The Fox That Lost Its Tail” is pride in the fruits of one’s labor. When an elderly woman learns that a fox happens to drink from her milk-pan, she cuts its tail and instructs the fox to replenish her stolen milk. The fox sets out on a journey asking a cow, a girl and others for different resources to get another, exemplifying community support.
In order to make such complex themes understandable to young audiences, Dervartanian designed a vibrant storyboard with stick figures and actively engaged with the children. She sparked their creative and critical thinking skills and received many enthusiastic responses. There was also a group activity: holding hands in a circle to grasp the emphasis of cooperation and interconnectedness that Tumanyan diligently and carefully imparts through this tale.
The November 12 event was a sequel to last month’s reading and performance of Ghazaros Aghayan’s “Anahid” featuring Dervartanian and Mary Galstian.
The treasures and interpretations behind Armenian folklore are vital to the development of today’s Armenian youth.
NAASR and Dervartanian will be planning another installment of ԱԲԳ/ABC for Children in the new year.