By Ani Afyan
Armenian News-NEWS.am continues publishing stories within "Survivors" project launched 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 106-year-old Sute Kocharyan
“Ine, ine... you have guests.”
A grandma sitting in the corner of the sofa suddenly roused, as if waking up from a nap, and looked at me in surprise (PHOTOS).
Looking into her eyes resembles looking into an old deep well full of dark grief.
Translated from Yezidi “ine” means “grandma.” It is how 106-year-old Sute Kocharyan is called by her grandchildren.
“Grandma, how did you appear in Etchmiadzin?”
“Do not disturb my soul, dear,” she whispers and takes the hand of Vanik, her eldest grandson, as if asking him for help.
“Grandma buried many relatives. It is difficult for her to remember. Let me tell you,” he said, protecting her from painful memories.
Sute Kocharyan was born in 1909 in Igdir. She was around six years old when her family along with Armenians living nearby left their home and fled to Eastern Armenia escaping from sudden attacks by the Turkish soldiers.
Her father Alo and elder brother Archil were brutally killed during one of these attacks. Since then, Sute canot hear about the Turks. Any mention about them awakens her mixed feelings of loss, pain and anger.
“They wandered in search of a new home. They reached Talin region on foot and settled there,” Vanik says.
However, their final destination was Etchmiadzin.
“How many brothers and sisters did Sute have?”
“Except for Archil, another three brothers and two sisters - Cholo, Fayzo, Surik and Sinam, Gule.”
None of them is alive.
Sute grandma is still sitting quietly, deep in her thoughts. Her gaze froze on the surface of the table, it seems that the time has stopped.
Her relatives say she has a very active lifestyle: making jam, tolma and preparing dower for her granddaughters.
“When did grandma get married?”
“It is an interesting story. She was ten when she got engaged. In a year she moved to the house of her father-in-law.”
“Three years I slept with my mother-in-law,” Sute got into conversation, “they treated me as if I was their daughter.”
When Sute was 15, she got married and moved to a separate room. Young family had five children. Their first son was named after Sute's father – Alo.
Then Gyavaz, Kubar, Atar and Hamik were born.
Sute told all her children about her home left in Igdir.
In 1954 Sute's husband passed away, and she shouldered all the difficulties. For many years she worked as a milkmaid at a local farm, while the children one by one could live on their own.
“Grandma does not like when someone is idle. 'You must work till you are alive' she always says.”
Sute brought the old photos at her granddaughter's request. She silently took a few pictures, went over them in her hands and raised one of them to her lips. She kissed and took it to arms.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that it depicts a man in a military uniform.
“This is her brother Fayzo,” Vanik said, “grandma was always proud of him and still can not accept the fact that he is gone.”
Today grandma Sute is surrounded by care and attention of her relatives and those close to her. But sometimes, says Vanik, during morning prayer, she bitterly recalls her happy childhood, suddenly interrupted by the tragic events that struck her family and the entire Armenian nation.
Photo by Arsen Sargsyan/NEWS.am
The previous articles in “Survivors” project are: