Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Dad began teaching himself to read Armenian while I was studying under Avedis Sanjian at Harvard, but Dad did it the right way; he did not depend on the old fashioned grammar book that I had been using in class (Kevork H. Gulian, Elementary Modern Armenian Grammar,) but he combined Gulian's vocabulary and grammar exercises with his favorite passages from the Holy Bible (most of which he knew by heart), reading or reciting the verses in English and then finding and reading the same passages in Armenian. [In case you were wondering, we had many Bibles in our house -- in Armenian, in Armeno-Turkish, in St. James' English and even in the latest American English translations.] Although Uncle Paul could read and write Armenian, Dad had never learned. Dad never went to school while he was living in Marash -- his mom had paid for him to attend, but daily he and his pals would leave the school steps to run away to the (Taurus) mountains behind the Girl's College where they would do battle with the Turkish boys -- hurling stones at each other using home-made shepherd's slings ('saltan bashu'), struggling against the odds that their Armenian parents would never be able to overcome.

N.B. From the internet: A shepherd's sling is a crude weapon made up simply of two strings with a pocket or pouch in the middle. It almost looks like a child’s toy though in the right hands with a lot of practice, it can be a highly effective and deadly tool. Such is the case with David and Goliath, as with the ancient Roman solders.

1 comment:

  1. Rev. Gilbert BilezikianJanuary 14, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    In these recollections, my cousin Bethel has captured the soul of an Armenian renaissance survivor of the Genocide, her father Peter Bilezikian. I hope you enjoy this tribute to the unconquerable spirit it radiates, and that of the heroic Marashtsis in particular. gB