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Igityan Satik, 70 years old


When we asked Satik (Pronounced saw-TEEK) if it is OK to interview her, she became very thoughtful and doubtful: why do you need that, who is it for? I felt like there was something this woman didn’t want anyone to know. Later, when Satik was telling the story of her life I felt like I was in a movie theater watching a horror show. Her entire life was a chain of pain, deprivation and suffering. She was two and half when her mother left the family leaving behind three minors. The father left for Russia to study hoping that his father would take a good care of his children. Her brother died very young because of inappropriate care and poor nutrition. Traditionally and culturally, Armenians are strong with their families and especially those days they were conservative, making sure that the children are well-brought up: ensuring good food, clothing, education, etc. This family was an exception. Soon after Satik’s grandfather’s death, his sister had responsibility for Satik. They put Satik’s older sister in an orphanage, but kept Satik to clean the house, sleep wherever she could and suffer. Then when she was 8, the “family” decided that she should earn her living by watching the cattle in the mountains. Cattle, big dogs and mountains were Satik’s companions and playmates those days. Mountains, train stations and parks were her shelters at night: waking up horrified in the middle of the night in a park or a cemetery was commonplace. In the dark and fear Satik started to lose her sight.

She got very sick when she was about 9. Her father’s return from Russia with a new wife probably saved her life. He found his older daughter and took Satik away from her great aunt so they could be a family again. The Russian stepmother did not have much compassion for little Satik and while her husband was out working, she was working her hard, beating, humiliating, day-by-day, week-by-week. Luckily, a neighbor witnessed this and told the father who stopped the treatment.

The Second World War began and Satik’s father was recruited and took his wife with him and Satik does not remember seeing them ever again. Years of orphanage followed, then working in the Gumri Textile factory. Satik was almost 50 when she got married. She hoped to find some relief in marriage with sharing and comforting each other. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the couple, both of them almost blind, could not sustain themselves any more and moved to the Gumri Nursing Home. The path of pain and suffering however wouldn’t leave Satik alone: her husband started to treat her rudely and over time got physical with her. The Nursing home director could not stand this and she managed to send him back to his family.
Albeit Satik’s incredibly harsh life, she still has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for life, still cheerful and sociable. I now understood why she was reluctant to interview first, ashamed of her life, people she was surrounded with, hurting a lot from past memories. People have been cruel to her. But now she feels the Nursing home is a secure place for her. And she is very appreciative of that.






 

 

 

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