Union of Marash Armenians, Watertown, celebrating Sourp Hagop
following mass upstairs at Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church, Belmont, Massachusetts
Was it the place? Was it the languages? Was it the piano? Was it the Khachaturian? Marash Girl found herself in a church basement, an Armenian church basement, an Armenian church basement in Belmont, Massachusetts, an Armenian church basement filled with the languages of her childhood, an Armenian church basement filled with Marashtsis happy to come together once again to celebrate life, [and yesterday, to celebrate the life of Sourp Hagop, who, it turns out, according to the priest from North Andover, was not Armenian but was Assyrian . . . more on that later!] And, contributing to the festivities, a young pianist playing an elaborate piece by Aram Khachaturian on the piano. The moment the introduction was over, and the pianist began playing, the two "Marash Boys" sitting at the table, cousins, descendants of survivors from Marash, friends who hadn't seen each other for over a year, began conversing once again.
The competition between their conversation and the piano caused Marash Girl to laugh (almost out loud), as the moment took Marash Girl back to her 10th year of life, when her mother and father requested that she play the piano for the gathering of Marashtsis that Saturday evening. Marash Girl demurred, but her parents insisted. Thus it was that she found herself in a church basement, an Armenian church basement, an Armenian church basement in Watertown, Massachusetts, an Armenian church basement filled with conversations in Armenian, Turkish, French and English, an Armenian church basement filled with Marashtsis coming together once again to celebrate life. Marash Girl's moment of glory had arrived. The Master of Ceremonies, finally quieting the celebration, announced that Marash Girl would be playing a piano selection for the assembled. Everyone applauded. The room became silent. Young Marash Girl approached the piano, sat down and adjusted the bench, listened for a moment to the silence, and began. She played the first few notes of her piece on the old upright piano, and then, as if in relief, the audience en masse began chattering once again, silencing only long enough to applaud when the the notes ended and Marash Girl took her bow.