Tervant Dakessian Sanjian, Marash Boy's kermer (his mother's brother's mother, i.e., his maternal grandmother), was a surivivor of the death march during the Armenian Genocide. Her mantra: "Gun bu gun, zaht, bu zaht." (Rough translation: Day? The day is Today. Time? The time is now.) She believed in accepting her lot, in living in the present. And that's no wonder, once we learn of her past. She was tiny (under 5 feet tall) and fearless, the woman who, during summers on the 20 acres in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, would reach up and grab the ear of the lead cow in a wandering herd, herding it and its family back across the fields to their rightful pasture. She was a staunch believer in Christ, a woman whose faith had carried her through the worst of times. But she still had nightmares. Marash Boy, only a young fellow at the time, was sharing a bedroom with his kermer and was asked to calm her during her nocturnal visits to the past. His mother, (known in these blogs as Medzmama), also a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, speaking Armenian, comforted Marash Boy's fears: "Mi vakhnar. Don't be afraid. When Kermer starts screaming & crying in the night, just hug her and tell her that it's okay, that she's here in the room with you, that she's in Springfield, Massachusetts, not Marash, Turkey, that she's in the United States, not the Ottoman Empire, that the horror is past, that she is safe at home, with her daughter and her grandchildren."
When Marash Girl and Karoun first attended a viewing of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, they sat in the center front of the West Newton Cinema. The film should have been named MY BIG FAT ARMENIAN WEDDING, they said to each other. From the overprotective Greek father, the wonderfully enthusiastic Greek aunts, the music played on oud and dumbeg, and yes . . . the plastic covering the couches, the kich and over the top plastic wedding decorations (complete with fiberglass parthenon columns/pillars), the line dancing, the food, the home remedies (if you've seen the film, you must remember the Windex!) It was all so familiar. . . and so hilarious. Strangely, THEY were the only ones in the theatre laughing, and they were laughing very loudly!
But part of the film was no laughing matter. When discussing MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING with their American (read here 'Non-Armenian') friends, Marash Girl and Karoun had to listen to said friends critique the character of the Greek grandmother, all dressed in black, hunched over, with a black shesh over her head, crazily running through the neighborhood screaming. It didn't fit; it didn't make sense to them because they knew nothing of the atrocities and massacres to the Greek and Armenian populations committed by the Young Turks early in the 20th Century. What that old grandmother had seen and remembered was more than any one of them could have even imagined, much less lived through.