It was 1915. Cruelty. Brutality. Savagery. Atrocities. Wholesale slaughter. Massacre of an innocent nation. Turkish program of extermination against Armenia. Annihilation of humanity.
Why? What for?
Carnage – that took the lives of thousands of sinless people. Petros was one of those who remained orphan in those days. He had nothing else to do but to immigrate abroad. The only thing he was living for was his love lost on his way to France. He couldn’t bear the fact that the brutes had taken his love away from him. The fact was killing him and Petros was sobbing all the time with his head in his hands. He was scarcely persuading himself to endure, to survive, to walk and go forward.
Years passed. As he had sworn not to marry and look for his Astghik, he decided to take a kid from the orphanage, take care of her and devote her his love and tenderness. Now he was living with the hope to find his Astghik one day. Petros was always telling her stories about his nation, his country, even about massacre. “Let her known the truth”, – was saying Petros. It was due to Petros the girl was reading Armenian, writing Armenian, she was thinking Armenian. Petros had gained his aim – to bring her up Armenian.
– Why didn’t you marry, Petros?
– I’ve lost my love.
– Again because of massacre?
– Yes, my clever old thing. It was all because of that so-called massacre that I lost my family, my love, my nation, my land…
– Instead you found me, didn’t you?
Petros smiled tenderly embracing the child.
– Promise me, my hope that you’ll marry only an Armenian boy.
– I do. Mom’s the word.
– I love you my sweet potato. We’ll return one day to Armenia and you’ll see your home country, I promise.
– What about my education?
– Only after graduating from the university.
He kissed her and she ran away leaving Petros with his thoughts and his memories. The range of questions like “Where is she? Is she alive? Shall I meet her one nice day, embrace, kiss and cry?” were chocking him up to this day. Every slight sound was awakening him reminding that it was a dream, a pleasant dream.
At the university Anahit got to know an Armenian boy and soon they became close friends.
– My name is Anahit.
– You have an Armenian name, are you Armenian?
– Yes,-she said.
– I’m very happy, – said the boy, – My name is Pierre. I am also from Armenia.
– Then why not speak Armenian?, – said Anahit.
The boy bowed his head and said with a quality glance:
– I know only a few words that I’ve heard from my mom. My father is a Frenchman. French has been the first language in our family and Armenian…
– Do you want to learn Armenia?
– I do.
– I am ready to teach you.
– I’ll be grateful to you, Miss Anahit, -said the boy smiling and shaking hands with her.
Miss Anahit started Armenian lessons with Pierre. She was teaching him not only the language but also the history of Armenia. Step by step Pierre fell in love with her and instead of following her lessons he was wishing their feelings were mutual.
Petros’ words were always sounding in Anahit’s ears: “Promise me that you’ll marry only an Armenian boy”. She wanted him so much to love her something that seemed to her impossible whereas Pierre was mad about her and thought she’d never loved him. “She knows so much about our history, she speaks Armenian so fluently, she is Armenian while I am starving to become Armenian”, – thought Pierre.
And one day during the consecutive Armenian lesson Pierre, all of a sudden, murmured: “Marry me…”. Once he said, he regretted, he was trembling all over. “What if she quits giving lessons because of my stupidity”, – thought Pierre and saying sorry got up to walk away. Unexpectedly Anahit cried after him, “I will…”.
They embraced each other as would do Petros and Astghik if one day met each other.
The loving couple now was thinking about organizing a party for their parents to meet. Petros was so much waiting for the day to come, the same about Pierre’s mother. She was so much worrying for the party. There was something inexpressible about them – worry, waiting happiness. But why? Hearts were talking.
It was 24th of January. Petros stood in front of mirror for too many hours something that was not characteristic of him at all. He was going to and fro wondering why they were late. “They’ll come now, father, don’t worry!”. The moment she for the first time called father the bell rang and Pierre entered with his parents. They greeted each other and shook hands.
– Astghik, Jague, – said Pierre, – my parents.
– Astghik? Astghik? My love Astghik?
Instead of telling his name he was repeating “Astghik”. At that moment Anahit said:
– Petros ,– my father.
Nobody but Anahit caught the moment guessing that his Astghik was the heroine of Petros’ stories.