BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I’ll abide by the “lav, pav, tzav” (OK, enough, pain) admonition applied by generations of Armenian parents. I’m going to have to mention a topic that just 15-20 years ago I would have come close to sneering at the existence of in our community.
The third incidence of this unmentionable actually arose in an otherwise laudable setting– Anahid Keshishian’s performance of her autobiographical “Ga yev Chga” one woman’show. I found it very interesting as a snapshot of life in a place and time of the Diaspora not very familiar, at least to me. Judging by the audience’s reactions, it was very apt. Many were in tears as virtually the whole audience stood in line to congratulate and hug Anahid for conveying, evidently quite well, what they had experienced. It’s life through the eyes of a child growing up on the outskirts of Tehran then suffering a severe dislocation by repatriating, to then-Soviet Armenia.
The small, 50-ish seat theatre was sold out for all its remaining shows. Since then, Sunday June 24, Thursday, June 28, Sunday, July 1, and Thursday July 5 have been added. Contact Anahid at 818/395-8227 for tickets. I’d recommend seeing this play.
But the issue that troubled me is child abuse/molestation. Anahid made a not-so-subtle reference to a childhood friend experiencing it when this friend asked to hide until a guest had left the house. I’ve been made aware of two other abusers, both of whom got off the hook completely. Ironically, in one case the victim feared the response of those who might rise to defend; the victim. In the other, it was posthumous, and other family members chose denial.
It seems pathetic, but the obvious needs stating. These problems must be addressed in the her-and-now, preferably through our own community– the church and growing cadre of mental health professionals. Hopefully, these problems can be licked without the intercession of law enforcement. The latter would only drive this further underground and distort familial interactions even more.
The good news is the June 9 Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry’s walkathon. It was the second one organized by ABMDR with about 800 walkers– in person and virtual. Approximately $50,000 was raised for the ongoing efforts to maintain a database of Armenia’s who might be matches for marrow transplants to fight disease. In fact, the organization’s new objective is to open a transplant center in Armenia’so patients don’t have to travel all over the world for treatment.
ABMDR is a great effort. If you haven’t been tested yet, do it. You might save a compatriot’s life! This project is a great example of what can be done with good people with a focused objective. It’s too bad our established organizations haven’t been able to organize around this type of need. Thus, when something like ABMDR comes along, there’s a need to build infrastructure. That takes time and effort, which would have been saved by virtue of a larger organization’s credibility. Our institutions have to become more flexible and nimble.
The juxtaposition of the two topics in this article isn’t just temporal by virtue of coincidental events in the community. We are burdened with overly strong “privacy/secrecy/embarrassment” concerns when it comes to our afflictions. More openness in our lives would minimize the effects of the ills we suffer, thanks to the power of “sunshine.” That enables greater interaction and information sharing leading to more easily finding solutions. It would be preventive and curative.
Let’s modernize our mindsets to build stronger, more cohesive communities, instead of relying on dated, overly clannish and closed approaches.