BY HEGHINAR MELKOM MELKOMIAN
It‘s my last week. I have become restless for reasons unknown. By saying unknown I don’t literally mean unknown, but, you know, I don’t know which one of many reasons is stirring my emotions. I sleep very lightly and wake up very early – characteristics that would never have described me in the past. The New Year is literally around the corner and I still have so much to do, to at least feel like I did something, or achieved something in 2010. But all my attempts fail, just as they have done over the last 12 months.
I wake up on an ordinary Saturday morning with a very clear plan. It’s my last week and I need to buy presents; I need to buy some personal stuff, plan my last working week ahead of me and some other things I don’t even remember. I am a major music fan, but I don’t feel like listening to music and head to vernisage under the sound of people talking and the noise of the traffic.
Instead of hopping from one souvenir shop to another, I go straight to vernisage, knowing that the same stuff can be found all in one place. I see a very beautiful set of earrings and necklaces. Of course, this is my personal weakness and I enjoy finally seeing something new and very original in vernisage. The seller tells me the set is vintage and costs $30. Very cheap I must admit. I’m not sure about the vintage part, but it is very beautiful and original and definitely worth the price. However, I don’t buy it. The man asks, “What? Is it expensive?” I reply, “No. But nowadays everything seems expensive”, and walk away.
This momentary conversation sort of triggers the resurfacing of some of my unresolved issues. I have chosen to live in Armenia despite the many issues I face on a daily basis. Of course, I’d rather live in a country where rules are respected, where you don’t have to fight, struggle for almost everything every day, where your rights are protected, where government officials don’t abuse their positions all the time and so on. I have chosen to live here not in my old age, but in my youth: a time when you need more space to live and develop as a person, to build your future, to become moderately financially stable.
In a way I can’t imagine life without daily struggles, daily disappointments and daily aggravations. C’est la vie in Armenia. I do sometimes dream of a “better place”, but what is better than what belongs to you? They say the perception of pain is different for every person and this is how I view life in Armenia: it’s not everybody’s thing. Nevertheless, my expectations in Armenia, as Armenia is in reality, are also sometimes not met and that is when depression kicks in. That is when I become restless. That is when I want to move abroad, but hey, who am I kidding? I know that I can’t live anywhere else but here.
It’s been more than six years now that my then-boyfriend, later-fiancé and now-husband has not managed to find a job here—an issue, which has not been resolved in all this time. While juggling our jobs in two different countries, maintaining and building our relationship between 1,000 kilometers, constantly trying to build something in Armenia, we prepare ourselves to face yet another challenge—the birth of our first child. And this may be the reason why my anger over my homeland grows every day, parallel to my belly. Two more months and the belly will get back to the way it used to be, but the same won’t happen with my anger.
I think of the things I’ve achieved over these past 12 months and, to tell you the truth, there isn’t much to think about. In this sense 2010 is not that different from 2009. I think of the things I’ve achieved as a citizen of Armenia, through my participation. I recall a few events and evaluate their outcome. No progress again, only disappointment.
- The massive protest against the destruction of Moscow Cinema’s open air hall. This campaign started in the beginning of the year, however, to date the hall has not been included in the list of “State protected monuments”: a list, from which the hall had been removed arbitrarily. The only outcome – nobody discusses the reconstruction of St. Poghos Petros Church, at least out loud.
- The ongoing protest against the destruction of a part of the “Students’ park” adjacent to Victor Hambadzumian’s statue and the construction of a café. All efforts crumbled. The “We are the owners of this city” initiative expanded its mission and began trying to help save more green areas in our city. However, so far, everything has been in vain.
- The recent change in the maternity leave allowance. The Parliament ratified a decision to cut back on the maternity leave allowance of those women who receive a high salary, more than 150,000 drams ($410). After many protests, the Prime Minister promised to reconsider the amendment to the law. However, the amendment has not been repealed.
During the past week many government officials were fired. This, of course, does not mean things will necessarily change or improve. We just hope that those newly appointed have a sense of patriotism and are good ethical human beings. Hopefully instead of jeopardizing Armenia’s reputation and damaging the country, they will help Armenia prosper. I am not the only person in love with my motherland, willing to live here through thick or thin, saddened by so many injustices and recklessness. I am standing on the verge of 2010 and hoping for a better and brighter 2011. Not only for me, for my personal life and loved ones, but also for my one and only home: our homeland.
May Armenia truly prosper as much as is possible in 2011. May it be safe from wars and other external and internal clashes and troubles. May its lands and trees blossom and nourish us. May we learn to thank her for giving us a home, a place to belong. And may she love and appreciate our efforts more, because local or Diasporan, we don’t live here by chance, but by choice.
Happy New Year and Merry Christmas to you, home.