BY SHAHE KASPARIAN
I stride upon the soft soil, covered with ages of moss, overlooking the pristine Mediterranean sea where birds nest and chirp. I declare my presence with a firm and calculated pace, here and now.
I breathe the fresh air that you breathed a while back — a century ago. The clean air of safety under the shining stars, protected by your peers with no biological links. Who cared for you, nurtured you, protected, fed, and clothed you. Who gave you a deserved education, a sense of purpose and clarity, of pride and dignity, and a priceless heritage of millenniums of ancestry and culture.
Some of you survived and flourished, and yet a lot of you, unable to withstand the burden of loneliness, of witnessing the inhuman behavior that your predecessors endured and suffered, succumbed to the unforgiving circumstances.
You were witnesses and bearers of tragic events with unhappy ends. You are buried beneath my feet, and yet you are still alive. You have proclaimed a divine inspiration in countless hearts, who remember and cherish you, who want to protect you. I walk in the same path as your adoptive “Mayr” and “Bedzmayr,” who cared for you boys and girls — emaciated with hunger, raw-boned and full of fear, ridden with infectious diseases — who gave you a reason to smile again.
You are still alive, and with a mighty roar you decree that you are there for a reason: for everyone to bear witness to the tragedies you endured.
You are still alive, for there is only one place in the entire world from where you are speaking, freely and unconditionally, to me and everyone else. Loudly proclaiming your presence, you are anodyne pugilists with incalculable strength.
You are still alive, for you belong to the past, yet you are the present, and you need to be there for future generations to come and tread softly on the same sandy dunes that ages ago, you roamed freely. Our dreams are warmer and sweeter, because of you.
You are still alive, and you are still treading within my heart with featherweight footprints.
*Written on the eve of the possibility of lease of the Birds’ Nest Orphanage in Lebanon, which was home to orphans of the Armenian Genocide.