was born in 1928 in Gumri. She was the only child. During the years of
repression their family, along with hundreds of others, was sent to
Siberia. This was in common place in 30-40s and many families became
victims of repression for being “kulaks” (having private land and not
being part of Soviet kolkhoz and sovkhoz), for being a little different or
just for being regular citizens.
Ashkhen was 21 when she married to an Armenian from their community in
Siberia. There were young, hard-working couple, full of dreams and energy
to fulfill their dreams. Deep in their heart they knew one day they would
return to their homes in Gumri or any other part of Armenia. Ashkhen still
had kind memories of her childhood in Gumri, the streets where she used to
play with her friends, their nice house, and the backyard where she was
feeding two little cute kittens. She also remembered an old song that her
mother used to sing for her at nights.
Ashkhen’s son was a year old when her husband had an accident and died
tragically. A week later her son passed away. This was the end of
Ashkhen’s young family. It took her several years to recover. Life would
never be the same for Ashkhen.
The day of freedom arrived; many families living in Siberia were released
from “home” prison. Ashkhen’s dream of seeing her motherland came true,
alas, her family could not share her feelings and the happiness. In Gumri
Ashkhen started working which was a little alleviation, which helped her
gain some energy for life. Now that she was working, she was the main
breadwinner of the family. After her parents died, Ashkhen felt very
lonely, she did not have any siblings or other relatives that she felt she
could stay with. Her only consolation was her work in the plant and her
little corner, little house and her own world of memories. The 1988
devastating earthquake ruined everything. Ashkhen’s building was leveled
to the ground. How many times, thought Ashkhen at the time, can I start
all over again, why is this endless chain of suffering and terrible
Before moving to the Gumri Nursing Home, she lived with a distant
relative, but not for a long time. She didn’t want to burden anyone and
soon, at her own request she was brought to this asylum. Her relatives
often visit her and she is happy for that.
Life is full of surprises, you never know where you start and where you
end up, never know what God has waiting for you in the corner, where your
time is for happiness and joy. As I was talking with this woman, I felt
like she never figured when her time for happiness was, whatever she had,
was so short term, whatever she had was somehow taken from her without her
enjoying it for long. She looked puzzled even now, after so many years
have passed by and are history now.