By Ani Afyan
“Survivors” is a new project launched by Armenian News-NEWS.am ahead of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Turkey in 1915-23.
“Survivors” is the stories of common people who lost their childhood and homeland.
“Survivors” is a hundred years of memories and pain, hundred years of expecting retribution.
“Survivors” are a diminishing group of people who won't lose their hope for acknowledgement of their pain.
“Survivors” is 105-year-old Khosrov Frangyan.
Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé…
105-year-old Khosrov is singing Marseillaise, the French anthem, making a smooth transition through the Arab motifs to the song of Musaler Armenians.
Despite his hard 105-year-long life that was full of hardships, he managed to preserve flow of spirits and subtle sense of humor (PHOTOS).
Khosrov Frangyan was born in the summer of 1910 in Kebusie village at the coast of Mediterranean Sea. His parents, Aristakes and Sima Frangyans, had three children – Khosrov, Hakob and Iskuhi, the latter fell ill and died when she was eight.
"In 1938 the Turks came to collect taxes. They claimed to be one of us. But I said that Turks don’t change. Today they say “yes”, and tomorrow they would say “no”. This is how the Turks usually act. They can easily go back on their words. We had no money to give them. We were breeding cattle and cultivating land – this is how we lived. ‘If you have no money, we will take the cattle,' they told us and took away the only cow we had,” Khosrov grandpa says.
In 1938 residents of seven Armenian villagers located near Musa mountain locked the doors and went down to the coast, cherishing hopes that we would all come back one day.
"Come back?.. no way, we lost it. The French handed our village over to the Turks and sent ships to take us away,” he continues.
The ship took them to Syria and dropped them in Ras al-Bassit, near Kessab. They lived in tents for some time, later the villagers were granted territory where today's Anjar was founded in 1939.
"I left my family in Anjar and went to Beirut where I earned my living by washing dishes or working at the construction. Then I left for Damascus, where I worked for an Englishman.”
By that time, Khosrov was engaged and was thinking about a wedding. Nektar, his wife-to-be, was waiting for him in Anjar. One of the days he took a day off to go home for his own wedding.
"We got married on May 9, 1945. The sounds of zurna [Armenian musical instrument – ed.] were heard in the village for three days. So much joy and happiness – all this is gone!” he waved his hand in sorrow.
“How did you get acquainted?”
“They lived in a neighboring house. I had eyes for her. She was skinny when we got married, just 40 kilos. She grew fat when we got married,” he laughed.
In 1946 their daughter Sonya was born, and in a year the couple decided to move to Soviet Armenia. In 1947 the Frangyans were already in Etchmiadzin where their son Boris was born. In two years Khosrov was labeled as “nationalist dashnak” – member of Dashnaktsutyun – and he was deported to Siberia.
“They gave me a paper and said: ‘Sign that you are a dashnak’. But I have never been. ‘Sign, do it!’ they ordered. I was forced to sign. If they decided something, you could do nothing”.
Khosrov and Nektar were sent to Altay region of Russia. He was offered to become a tractor driver.
“I told them I knew no word in Russian. But they said there were no men in the village. ‘You will learn’. And I did it, I wrote Russian words in Armenian letters in my notebook. When the day of exam came, I offered to be the first to answer. My Russian was poor, but I was good at mechanics. ‘Well done, Khosrov”, they told me and gave a license.”
In Siberia Nektar gave birth to Khachatur and Varduhi. Khachatur is a priest now and lives in the Netherlands. He has named his first son after Khosrov. In 2000s the grandpa visited them, but refused to stay there, he said it is better at home.
In 1956 the Frangyans came back to Etchmiadzin. Khosrov started working at a food processing factory.
“He is still good at counting. He calculates the bill quicker than the inspector from the gas company does with her calculator,” his daughter Varduhi said, showing a family album.
“You were handsome,” I noticed.
“Yes, I was”, he said proudly.
“Dad, tell her how many lovers had” his daughter asks ccunningly.
“Ooo, they were many” he said, but his immediately turned sad when looking at a photo of his wife.
Nektar died in 1995 on the eve of the 50th anniversary of their wedding.
“We lived side by side for 50 years. We built our house together. She really supported me.”
Twenty years ago Khosrov grandpa suffered a stroke. He is paralyzed almost on the whole right part of his body. Nevertheless, he lives an active life.
Khosrov grandpa is happy. He lived a hard but long life that was full of troubles and joys. And the only thing that darkens his live is the pain unshared by those whose ancestors deprived him of homeland so cruelly.
Photos by Arsen Sargsyan/NEWS.am