About Any Given Day

Hampartzoum became inspired to record his feelings after seeing the success of Sara’s educational programs at Dixie Canyon Elementary School about Armenians and the  Genocide . By seeing that the parents and children of non Armenians were interested in knowing his story of survival, Hampartzoum began writing around 1978. His writing would begin usually around mid morning in the dining room and sometimes in his garden. By mid afternoon he would go for a walk or do gardening. Thus Any Given Day is the accumulated writings of Hampartzoum Chitjian, expressing his feelings, from 1978 until the day he died in 2003.

The conception of the Chitjian collection was born from these writings. The full 383 page collection of Hampartzoum’s journal writings are available for download here.

“When my father wrote these words in Armenian, did he ever think someday I would have someone read it to me? How much I wish I could have thanked him. Or did he know someday I would cherish each word he wrote, and have them immortalized, so that his words would not Perrish in vain, and one day they will testify as eyewitnesses to what took place in Province of Kharpert from 1914 to 1922. His words testify that the Genocide was a premeditated and well-organized state policy to destroy the Armenian People.” – Sara Chitjian

Evidence Genocide was Intentional

Hampartzoum discovered writing as a cathartic process to help him overcome the profound suffering and trauma caused by The Armenian Genocide inflicted on Armenians like himself by the occupying Ottoman Turkish government in 1915. Hamparzoum wrote prolifically until the day he passed at 103 years of age and yet he never fully overcame the trauma inflicted on him during his childhood in ottoman Turkey.

Ovsanna would always say that Hampartzoum would cry out in his dreams and sweat in his pajamas almost every night of his life.

It can be understood that this archive is in part the preservation of Hampartzoum’s process of dealing with his trauma.

Original Language (Armenian)

Our Respectful Parents

(These are the translated words with Hampartzoum’s original handwritten writings in Armenian below.)

Our respectful parents

My respectful parents Mardiros and Tourvanta were true Christians and faithful people, but first of all, they were Armenians in their heart and soul.

We were six brothers and three sisters. My brothers: Bedros, Mihran, Hampartzoum, Kaspar (twins), Kerob and Nshan. My sisters: Zarouhi, Soultan, Yeranouhi. My paternal aunts: Marinos and Aghavni. The king of our family was our grandfather, Toros, who was 92 years old.

Traditions in our family

Every morning one of us would pour water over the hands of our grandfather and another over the hands of our father so that they could wash up. This is when we used to hear their prayers. For breakfast we would eat soup and yogurt cream (this is very nutritious). Every day our grandfather and father used to go to church, and we would go to school. Our sisters and aunts would stay at home and do household chores such as making food, doing laundry, sewing, knitting. The work of women was more difficult than the one of men. Everyone performed their duties assigned to them with joy. My father was a chitji who performed the difficult job of printing flowers on fabric. That’s why we were called chitjis.

In the evenings our grandfather, father and children (male) would go to church. The priest’s prayer, lasting for about one or two hours, brought back the memories of the fear we had to experience because of the Turks in 1895. The prayer of clerks and students was very sincere and emotional. You don’t see this kind of thing these days. Today when I go to church I listen to the same words and the same melodies but I close my eyes and imagine myself in the past – praying to God down on my knees. Nowadays, church ceremonies are artificial. This is how I feel about them but I may be wrong. I wish I was wrong.

Anyway, there was something different about the atmosphere in our house. At night my grandfather would sit on the right side of the fire and my father would sit on the left side of it. By the way, my father was a heavy smoker, but out of respect, he never smoked in front of his father. We all loved our grandfather.

Before dinner Kaspar and I would stand on the table and recite ‘’The Lord’s prayer’’. After dinner we would recite ‘’The Lord’s prayer’’ one more time and then we would do our homework till 9-10 o’clock. After that, we would gather around the fire and recite the 24 verses of “With Faith I confess.” Each one of us would recite a verse. We would then go down on our knees and sing “Lord, take pity on us …Lord, grant freedom to Armenians, and healing to the sick. Grant love and unite families. Grant peace to the world, and home to refugees. Grant meeting to the people missing each other. Bring close Armenians from all over the world’’. 

Everything changed in 1909 when my eldest brother turned 17. The rogue Turkish Government (Hürriyet) adopted a law according to which Armenians had to serve in the army, as Armenians and Turks were treated equally under this law. My father was afraid that my brother Bedros would be drafted into the army too, so he sent him to America with uncle Dickran despite having serious financial issues. Two ½ months later we received our first letter from Bedros (from Marseille). My poor mother, unable to stand the thought that she would never see her eldest son, became very sick. Two months passed but we didn’t receive any news from brother Bedros. We started imagining the worst. This made my mother even weaker and she got stuck in bed. While we were all gravely concerned about my mother’s illness, early one morning we were awakened and told that our grandfather had passed away. We loved our grandfather very much and this was the first death in our family. We came back home after the burial. When Kaspar went to see my mother, she told him ‘’Tomorrow I will die and you will bury me’’. And indeed, that very night my mother died and we buried her the next day. My father experienced double tragedy in his life.  

A couple of months passed and we received a letter from my eldest brother Bedros. He said that he regretted having left the family as he was in a very miserable situation, and it was very difficult for him to find a job there. Imagine how my father felt at that moment. 

In 1913 my brother Mihran turned 15-16. He still studied at school. After all the sufferings that my father experienced… his sons were already mature men and it was their turn to take care of him. So my father decided to send Mihran to America as well. He hoped he would find a good job and would be able to help us with money. However, both Bedros and Mihran sent a letter disclosing that they were having a difficult time surviving so they never sent even a cent to help their father.

When my mother was still alive she used to tell us about the massacre of 1895 with tears in her eyes. While my father was away on a job, a Turk advised my mother to gather up her children and leave the house as soon as possible. He warned her that Turks were planning to attack their house and rob them. If she stayed at home she would be risking her life and that of her children. My mother decided to follow his advice. She took Zarouhy, Soultan and Bedros and left the house․ She felt she couldn’t handle all four children so she wrapped Mihran tightly in his kondakh (swaddling clothes) and placed him near the tandoor to keep him warm. With a prayer for God’s protection, she left him. Three or four hours later, when she returned, she discovered that the house had been robbed. What was even worse, the baby was not where she had left him. Only when the baby started crying loudly, she discovered him in the tandoor, where he must have fallen. This was a story about Mihran and other children. This was the life of disunited Armenian nation. Unless Armenians decide to unite, they will be destroyed. 

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Three Ovsannas Who Saved Me From Death

We Encountered A Villager

(These are the translated words with Hampartzoum’s original handwritten writings in Armenian below.)

We encountered a villager who warned my father, ՛՛Mardiros Agha, don’t go to the village. A lot of old people were caught and you will be too…՛՛ My father told me, ՛՛My son, go straight home and wait a couple of days until you hear from me…՛՛ Two days later we finally received a letter from my father. It was delivered by his keervah, a good Kurdish friend along with two mules. The letter said, ՛՛Load as many guhdavs on the mules as you can. Hampartzoum and Kaspar, come to me with this Kurd.՛՛ My stepmother showed this letter to several people. At the moment, the cunning town-crier announced that only party members would be arrested; the rest could feel safe. My mother believed him and sent a reply to my father that he shouldn’t be afraid to come back home as it would be safe for him there. Two days later my father knocked at the door. We all rushed to greet him and take away his stick he was always carrying with him. But in vain…A Turkish policeman had noticed him walking to the house and started following him…My father was taken to prison. The Armenian nation has always been suffering. All because of our disunity…

One day Kaspar and I went to prison to see my father. Shops were filled with men who were beaten with thick wooden boards. What a pitiful sight! What a wrenching memory! After all these years stirring up the past and remembering that moment is agonizing.

The person who prayed ՛՛I Confess with Faith՛՛ was my father. The person who planted new grapevines for the coming year was my father. Now the person crying in jail was my father. He was brought to the door of the building, but he didn’t notice us. From the other side of the closed door my father painfully whimpered to us, ՛՛Bring me a little bit of brandy՛՛. I went home and brought my father his brandy.

Five days later my father knocked at the door again. When we opened the door, he didn’t let us touch him as his entire body was in pain. He came in and immediately said, ՛՛I will take my four sons to the Government. My sister Aghavni will marry the son of our half-Turkish, half-Armenian neighbor, whose name is Mahmed.՛՛ He took us to the Turkish mahtab ​(Turkish scհool). Then he turned around and walked away without kissing us or saying anything. Those disunited leaders – may they be cursed. 1915 didn’t teach them a lesson!

Our father left us there and came back home to join my 3 sisters, my mother and the villagers. When they reached the river, my father advised my sister, who was only sixteen at the time, to throw herself into the water. My sister followed his advice, and the River Euphrates took her

away. When my family was trying to cross the river and get to the other bank of it, a Turk grabbed my mother. My father resisted and the Turks cut off his 2 ears. Unable to tolerate these sufferings anymore, my sister Zarouhi fainted. This is how the story of my parents ends. Every day my late father would recite ՛՛I Confess with Faith՛՛ or ՛՛If our children forget so much evil՛՛ but his wish remained unfulfilled.

God saved us from the sufferings but I haven’t enjoyed a single moment of my life since 1915 up to this day. I just grew old in disappointment.

In 1922 I went to Aleppo. There was a refuge near the church there. I met a woman from our village, who immediately recognized me. She approached me and said that my sister Zarouhi was at that refuge. I found my sister and we talked to each other for some time. With tears in her eyes, she was telling me how she fainted, unable to watch the sufferings of our father. She didn’t know what happened to our father after that incident…My sister Zarouhi had a husband in America.

The sermons of the clergy, charities of political parties were of no use. After the massacre I realized ՛՛I belong to Armenians and Armenians belong to me՛՛. We need to stop being disunited. We must remember the massacre, stand together in order to grow and prosper.

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This brother of mine started crying upon hearing about the sufferings my parents had experienced. He kept saying, ՛՛Why God put us through ​trials​?՛՛

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This is my miserable ​sister​. Her marriage lasted only 3 months. She left for America. She was a follower of Enlightenment.

Hampartzoum’s original page 1

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 In 1915, The Unmerciful God Turned His Back On The Armenians

(These are the translated words with Hampartzoum’s original handwritten writings in Armenian below.)

    In 1915, the unmerciful God turned his back on the Armenians who loved Him the most. It seems they knocked on the wrong door. He left the whole Armenian nation with terrible days. He allowed the Turks to perpetrate the most barbaric, painful and heinous acts against them. We lost our mothers, sisters brothers, more than one and a half million Armenians.

   For two and a half years I lived like a hunted dog, wandering from one village to another and trying to find one soul with a conscience who would dispel my fears of being killed. There is a Turkish saying that best describes my life experience: ‘’Spring will eventually come for the dog but it will never forget the stick he was beaten with.’’

    In summer of 1914 me and my friend Levon Gopoian, who lives in New Jersey now, headed to Perii. For two days we ate only wild unripe almond. Sometimes we vomited it all because they were too green. Finally, we reached Pertahk, a village, which was very similar to Fresno – there was one house for every 10-15 acres of farmland. We had heard that the children of Perri were brought here. As we started to search for a familiar face to give us some information, we encountered a young boy from Perri who told us that my little brother Nishan, age 6, had been thrown into the river and my other brother Kerop, age 9, was alive and worked for a Turk. Kerop’s life was not that bad. He had grown much taller and was now herding sheep for a Turk. The boy told us he had seen Kerop the previous year. Kerop was alive and that was the good news. As we said goodbye to the young boy, we reminded him if he saw Kerop (his Turkish name was Hamdee) again, to tell him we were going to Kharpert and Mezreh, and if he could, he should try to go there to find us. Five or six months later a miracle happened, and I found my brother Kerop, who was 5 years younger than me. Later, you will know how that happened.

   The next day we continued our trek to Kharpert, Upper City with the caravan of muleteers. We found Levon’s mother, Yeghsah Bahgee. That saintly woman lived in a small room with 3-4 children. American missionaries provided each of them with a loaf of bread. She pinched off a small piece of bread from the ration of her children and gave it to us. It’s very difficult not to cry when after all these years you remember the dog’s life you had to live in the past.

    Thanks to this angelic woman I found my aunt Zaruhy. I was so fortunate that my aunt was Dr. Michael’s washer. She took me to his house. They didn’t accept me the first time, because I was barefoot and dressed in dirty Kurdish clothing.  My saintly aunt and some other women chipped in and bought me some used but good clothing. I took a bath, and they took me to the doctor’s house again. This time I was accepted and became the doctor’s servant – however, they treated me as a family member and not as a servant. This is how my life changed from night to day and dark into light. No fear from the Turks and no cursing words. The merciless God gave me a miracle!

   One of my chores was to purchase fruit and other things from the marketplace. Another chore of mine was to go to the patient’s house in advance to remind him of the time and day the doctor would arrive. When patients came to the doctor’s house, I invited them in. Almost all of the doctor’s patients were Armenians. This kind-hearted man not only gave medicine to his patients but he also gave them pocket money (a few ghooroosh). I am sure the doctor gave more than he actually could afford. This kind man would send me to the local jail with money to bribe the guards to release Armenian prisoners. This kind of a Christian Hagopig’s father was. If there is a heaven, I’m sure that our beloved Dr. Michael is there now. 

   I have met other kind-hearted Armenians too whose names I would like to mention: Kude Archbishop Mekhitarian who helped the Armenian orphans from Kharpert to escape from the hellish Turkey and Archbishop Nerses Melik-Tankian (Persia, Tabriz) who helped 20.000 Armenians who had come to Tabriz from Armenia. And finally, Gabriel Babayan (in Mexico City, from Tigranakert), who helped more than 1000 Armenians and Catholicos of All Armenians, Vasken I. Their work is heartily appreciated.

    By 1918 it was very difficult to find bread in Turkey. At the command of the doctor, every day I would go to the poorr (bakery) and take 10-15 loaves of bread from the back door. Then I would cut each loaf into four quarters to distribute to poor Armenians. I gave one piece to each person who came to the door. I had a friend from Perri, Hagop Holopigian. I asked him to inform the Armenians to come to our door for bread. He repaired shoes in front of the large fabric store in the shoogah (marketplace) owned by an Assyrian and he met many people throughout the day. Of course, he loved Armenians as he was from Perri. One day, Hagop, who was a good friend and schoolmate of my brother Mihran, came to our door and knocked on it twice. I assumed there must be two people waiting, so I went to the door with two pieces of bread to hand out. I saw Hagop and a poor eleven years old boy standing next to him. First, I handed a piece of bread to the child and asked Hagop not to knock so loudly, because the noise bothered the doctor’s wife, Aghavni Khanum. The poor child didn’t accept the bread I was offering him. I offered him both pieces, but he just kept looking down. I asked Hagop why the child wasn’t accepting the bread. Hagop told me to lift the boy’s chin to see if I could recognize him. What a moment! Had the conscience of my merciless God awakened? When I put my hand on the poor orphan’s cheek, I recognized my brother Kerop. I hadn’t seen him for 2.5 years. I didn’t know whether my father, mother, sisters and brothers were alive or not. Such a joyous and sad moment! Kerop told me that our brother Nishan had been thrown into the river as no one wanted a six-year-old servant. Put yourself in my place and try to endure that moment and still not find fault with your creator after all the sufferings the whole nation experienced. 

    The days in the doctor’s house were the happiest for me and my brother. We would take the doctor’s lovely daughter and son, Hagopig for a walk. Kerop carried the daughter and I carried Hagopig. Their little white kid was also with us. Every day we spent about an hour or two in the garden. Hagopig was a little jealous of his sister and wanted all of my attention. He was about 2.5-3 years old. We spent our days hugging, kissing each other and having a good time. Hagopig loved me very much. I still kiss Hagopig whenever I see him. Their gardener was Asadour from Kasserig. Every kind of fruit and vegetable could be found in the garden: cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, eggplants, mulberries. The garden was situated right in front of the German orphanage. I used to throw the fruits and vegetables over the wall for the orphans to take them. Occasionally, the caretakers took the orphans outside of the building for a walk. They were all cleanly dressed, but they were very thin and malnourished. It turned out that our well liked priest, Father Diyiar Dervishian, was one of the orphans who waited for my visits. He was one of the little boys who enjoyed the berries of the doctor’s garden. There is no one in Kharpert who, the respectful doctor Michael Hagopian, didn’t help in some way. His efforts were spread throughout Kharpert and Malatya. He used to be the doctor of my wife’s parents as well. 

   15-20 days passed. The doctor told me that we had to take my brother to the orphanage according to the command of the Turkish government. My brother was accepted by the orphanage located in Veri Kaghak (Upper City, Yeprad College). There were 200-300 boys and girls there. My brother kept crying but that was pointless. I visited him only 10-15 days a month taking with me the nice dinner prepared by Doodoo (Hagopig’s grandmother). Each time I visited Kerop, we would cry together. Each time I left, he would say, ‘’Brother, why are you leaving me here alone and returning to that caring family yourself?’’

   One or two months passed. I was no longer able to endure this pain. I left the doctor’s house, took my brother from the orphanage and started repairing old shoes to make a living.  At first, I worked in the shoogah (marketplace) of Mezreh but then we moved to other villages such as Kesereeg, Yertmeneeg, Morenig, Soorsooree, Vartahtell, Buzzmehshen, Komk. In each village I would repair one pair of shoes to provide us with a shelter and another pair to provide us with food. We would get some mulberries, wheat, etc. 

   At that time, the Germans left and American missionaries came. The orphanage was provided with food. I took my brother Kerop back to the orphanage. This time I visited him once a week and stayed with him for an hour or two.  

Hampartzoum’s original page 1

Hampartzoum’s original page 2

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Hampartzoum’s original page 5

Mr. Raymond Was A German

(These are the translated words with Hampartzoum’s original handwritten writings in Armenian below.)

In 1918, Mr. Raymond was a German consul caring for the Protestant Armenian orphans. We were the followers of Loosavorchagan (Orthodox National church), 25-35 boys. We stayed in a building situated next to the orphanage. This place used to serve as a stable for horses and cows. We were only allowed to spend nights there. We were not provided with food. My paternal uncle’s son Margar and maternal uncle’s son Hmayag were with me. Margar was an overseer – his job was to register the names of all the Armenian orphans spending a night in that place with the approval of Mihran Effendi Derderian.

One evening, a five feet tall young man walked in, looking for a place to sleep. He was blind in one eye. Margar was asking him questions, when suddenly one of our little boys shouted, cried and lost consciousness: he started to foam at the mouth and trembled uncontrollably. Margar opened the Bible and started reading it aloud for more than an hour. The boy calmed down and fell asleep. Waking up, he looked all around and asked if that Turk was still there. He told us that the Turk who had raped his mother looked exactly like the young man who had just come in looking for a place to sleep – he was also blind in one eye. The boy said that after separating him from his mother, the Turk dug a hole in the field, shoved him in and hit him hard over his head. Then this Turk covered him up with dirt and walked away. The head pain woke him up and he tried to get out of the hole. Soon he was brought to this place. What a memory! I don’t know if this makes me praise the Lord or hate Him.

In the evening, when the sun had already gone down but it was still not very dark, the Germans were defeated and gone. A bus with 60 American soldiers drove slowly into Kharpert, down the main road, Pahpooryoly. The bus lights lit up the city roads and we could hear the sound of the sirens – jeeve, jeeve, jeeve! They sounded like angels. That made us very happy!

The next morning, I went to work. I had a job at the poorr (bakery) owned by a Turkish soldier. My job was to fetch water from the spring. I saw that everything was closed. I saw Turks display fear! Turkish moonehdeeks (town criers) used to walk around the streets and shout out, ‘’Whoever harbors an Armenian will be jailed for five years with a chain around his neck.’’ Now they were crying out, ‘’The Americans are our friends, as they are of the Armenians! Don’t be afraid to open your shops and businesses, go about your usual daily activities!’’

In the meantime, Mr. Riggs, an honest man who spoke Armenian, became the headmaster of the Protestant orphanage. He gathered Armenian orphans and opened several other orphanages both for girls and boys. He converted the Yeprahd College into an orphanage. At his command, large Armenian houses located in adjacent villages, were captured from the Turks and  turned into orphanages. 

I remember the day when I joined an American soldier’s group consisting of 8-10 boys. The first village we went to was Buzzmehshen which used to be known for its large houses previously owned by farmers. Buzzmehshentsi boys were very happy to see their village filled with Armenians. The boys pointed to one of the large houses built in the village. The Turkish owner of the house resisted first, but then he opened the door out of fear. The American soldier said that the house was too small to turn it into an orphanage. One of the Armenian boys announced that he knew a large house in Vartahtell. So we went there. What a memory! My heart is being filled with happiness and sorrow when I’m writing these lines. This Turkish owner of the house resisted and didn’t open the door. I saw how the soldier tried to open the door with his chest. He failed. Finally, he stepped a little back, then making one or two steps forward, he gave one strong kick on the door with his leg. The wooden lock broke, and the door opened. What a sight! What a memory! I feel like I’m there right at this moment. Shouting out, the Turk pleaded the boys to ask the soldier not to kill him.

The soldier went upstairs and told us to throw all of the contents out of the windows. We completely emptied the house. Soon, this Turk and his family left, and the house became an orphanage. There was a spring and hayloft within the structure of the house: one wall was covered with a writing written in Armenian that claimed that many people had been gathered and killed there. Names were also listed next to the message on the wall. 

Orphanages were established in the villages of Husenig, Upper Mezreh, Morenig, Khoylee and Soorsooree. Margar was a priest in a ruined monastery located in the village Soorsooree. We used to go there to pray. More than two thousand-five hundred Armenian orphans were housed in these orphanages.

Those Americans used to collect the bones of the Armenians. What happened? Where are those bones now? Today they are denying having witnessed our sorrowful tears.

You must rely only on yourself. Only unity can save the Armenians.

The Hovhannissians always support the Armenians. We hope their next generations continue their work.

May God grant them good health, happiness and help them reach their goals!

Hampartzoum’s original page 1

Hampartzoum’s original page 2

Hampartzoum’s original page 3

Hampartzoum’s original page 4

Highlights from Any Given Day

While writing these letters, God was not present.

A Dream or Reality

My Black Days

The Armenian Language page 1

The Armenian Language page 2

Daily Experience of an Armenian Orphan

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The Conduct of the Armenian Family is Virtuous.

Notes in the margins

Kourken Yanikian must be set free

The Meaning of The Montebello Monument

Meeting Mary Najarian’s Father

Seeing his best friend murdered in the river

The beginning of the Genocide

Poetic verses from Hampartzoum’s Letters

More words found in his letters.

Hog Wash as spoken in casual conversation among Armenians from Kharput

Stories Not In The Memoirs

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My Memory of the dire days

My Memory of the dire days page 1

My Memory of the dire days page 2

My Memory of the dire days page 3

My Memory of the dire days page 4

My Memory of the dire days page 5

My Memory of the dire days page 6

A sample of Hampartzoum’s original handwriting for Dire Days

Was I more sinful because I survived.

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Was I more sinful because I survived.

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Hampartzoum’s words translated:

“This Catholicos knocked on the doors of my heart when he said, “The division that took place in 1943 was a tragedy….” his words are very precious. I wish that he shows us by doing his work. These three have done good toward unity. I don’t blame the Turk, the bad does the bad and we work for unity…”

Year Of Mourning 1915 / Blood Spattered Date – Version 1

Very often Hampartzoum would write about the same day or experience on a different day. To demonstrate this below are three versions of his writing titled, Year of Mourning – 1915″.

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Year Of Mourning -1915 / Blood Spattered Date – Version 2

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A Gutt Wrenching Loss

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The position taken by Armenian leaders

Hampartzoum’s original language writing samples 1

Hampartzoum’s original language writing samples 2

Those were the days

To read more of Hampartzoum’s poetry, Click Here.

Mat they be turned upside down

To view more of Hampartzoum’s collaged works, Click Here.

Cross Cross

Penetrating letter Hampartzoum writes to Krikor Bedoian recounting his experiences during the Armenian Genocide

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1978

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Version 2

This Is What Good Teachers Taught Us In Perri

Hampartzoum’s Handwriting

Translated

Hampartzoum’s Stories

My sad recollection from 1915

Wandering from village to village

Fun and Games in Perri

With gods will I went to Haleb

I am looking for a Vari Ichmetzi

(Cooking a chicken brings back traumatic memories)

39 Saintly Letters

Kurdish words Hampartzoum would use to tell stories.

An unforgettable story at my paleteria.

Finding Family

My Appreciation of Malatya

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Translated Words

My appreciation of Malatya

April 1972                                                                                                     

From their son-in-law

If you knock on heaven’s door your heart’s desire will manifest. What does a young man dream of? Of course, all he wants is to be loved by a kind and humble person and create a family based on love and kindness.

This is exactly what happened to me in 1929 when I knocked on the door of one of the houses built in Malatia. Everyone was well aware that the owner of this house was the priest of Malatia and his name was Sarkis Agha Piloyan. And this is when I got lucky; the darkness turned to light and hell turned to heaven. 

I feel compelled to mention the name of a person who I am grateful for my happiness. One can never forget the name of a person who helped him in his hour of need. His name is Gabriel Papayan from Mexico City (originally from Tigranakert). He gave a helping hand to around 1000 miserable Armenians from Mexico. He took care of all these people including me. He was a kind and noble man. This person was so honest that people like me would trust him with their money asking him to keep those savings without a shadow of a doubt. 

One day Papayan came to me saying ”Hampardzoum, why don’t you get married? I know a very good family here. They are from Malatia. The head of the family is Sarkis Agha. He has three daughters and one son.  One of her daughters married a man from America but the other two girls are still single. Please don’t let this chance pass you by and at least take a look at them. Also, keep in mind that there were a lot of young men who wanted to marry these girls but they were all rejected by their father. He knows the value of his daughters. If you don’t mind I will discuss this matter with him. I don’t think he will reject me.”

Yes, it happened. I got married and Papayan became my godfather.

I faced so many obstacles but God blessed our marriage and heaven’s door opened for me.

First of all, I was fortunate enough to have amazing brother-in-laws. One of them was Hagop. His mother, a very honorable woman, raised her children to be humble, family-oriented, neat and hospitable people. She could do everything from sewing to cooking delicious dishes and sweet pastries such as gata, pakhlava, beorek, cheorek and especially gatmeri which is my favorite. They say if you once try this dish you will live longer. Also, let’s not forget about another dish which is well-known in Malatia as ‘’tap shish’’. Apart from that, Hagop’s mother was a very beautiful woman. I was also very close with my beautiful and serious sister-in-law, Nvard. Her smile was so beautiful! They say sister-in-laws are sweeter than honey. Of course, I agree with this saying but in my opinion sisters are a little bit sweeter.

Those years were so amazing! However, when I look back, I can also remember the horrific days of our past like the Genocide of 1915 when I lost my father, mother, sister and brother. But now thanks to my new found relatives I still know what it means to have a mother, father, sister and brother. Besides I was blessed with a son, Mardig who was  named after my father. My dear father-in-law used to hold the baby in his arms, twirl him around and gently kiss him on his neck. Unfortunately, this happiness didn’t last long. My father-in-law died at the age of 84. Soon my daughter Zarouhi was born. I named her after my sister. She was surrounded with love.

In 1932 Nshan Alashanian, a lucky person like me, came here from America. He was originally from Malatia so he was not a wanderer like me. He won the heart of our Nvard and took her away from us. They settled in New York and created a typical Malatian family.  They were blessed with a son, Avedis. At present they have 3 baby grandchildren.

In 1935 we went to America, Los Angeles. Then we moved to Fresno. We got acquainted with Piloyan brothers (Mardiros and Hagop). Their mother always showed love and respect to us.

I enjoyed spending time with brother Sedrak in Fresno. I was also very close with my brother-in-law Manoug. We enjoyed each other’s company for two years. He was a very cheerful man. He was always joking that despite being Protestant I was an amusing person. He had a very beautiful voice and he used to sing in our garden in Turkish language. This made us very happy. We have never told each other offending words. But one day he just went away and never came back. His wife Seyto was a very kind and hospitable woman. Their children’s names are Albert, Florence, milkmaid Alice and Cladie. Michael and Richard are their grandchildren. They are very beautiful babies.

We went to New York. It’s so nice to have sister-in-laws! Both Maritsa and Nvard were so hospitable. Maritsa has one son, Harutiun and a very sweet daughter, Rosie.

The Malatian families living in Los Angeles are very honorable. They are like family to me. I hope they treat me the same way. We were especially close with Mr. Khoren Papazian who was a well educated man ready to help and share his knowledge with everyone.  We also kept in close touch with Aram Zhamkochian and Hovhannes Aharonian. We have been playments for years and yet we never bored one another. I can say only good things about these people. Unfortunately, many of them passed away and others are very old now. The world has less color without them.

When we moved to France we lived in Sarkis and Avedis Kipiniskians’ house. We were surrounded with love and respect. They both had very beautiful families. Avedis’s son will definitely bring honor to his family. He’s going to become a doctor. He also has a very beautiful daughter, Hivandouhi. Their wives were also very beautiful.

Life can be so cruel sometimes. Some of them went away leaving us in misery. The first people who left were my brothers-in-law, Sedrak and Manoug. My sister-in-law Maritsa, Hagop and my lovely Nvard followed them. We have never heard of them anymore. It’s so difficult to handle this pain. The heartbreaking news we received shocked all the members of our family. May they rest in peace and may God grant good health and patience to the ones who are still alive.

I’d like to sum up and express my deep appreciation for all Malatian families. They were so nice to me and that’s thanks to my wife.  I hope one day you also have a chance to meet a person from Malatia

Hampardzoum and Ovsanna Chitjian

Children Mardig and Zarouhy

Act of Justice

Man’s jealousy to grab treasures and glory is ample. My jealousy, however, is to be a hair to grow over the head of this young man’s father, and to be a sacrifice for the soul of these vengeance-seeking youths. The wishes of the person with the white hair, here, is one and the same — perhaps a little more strongly.

My only desire is for us to open our mouths with prayer so that God saves those who are in jail. They are not guilty. It’s true, it’s true, it’s true. Let each one of us see the bodies of the martyrs strewn all over the mountains, valleys, and rivers — the long, delicate hairs of Armenian girls wrapped around the trees by the river.

Oh, how I wish that each one of us would remember that in 1915 we were the tender offsprings of those who were martyred. The only thing they demand of us is not to forget and not to become hopeless regarding feelings of vengeance however we can achieve it.

My wish is that the old folks’ home in Los Angeles would serve as an example to be the first Armenian old folks’ home in the world, where each individual with a few pennies and a short piece of writing — a few words expressing pangs of consciousness — especially their signature signed with their delicate hands, will bear witness in front of other nations that it is true that the manslaughter took place, that the Turks are lying and that the great nation of America is believing them. Your few pennies and your signature would be priceless. When you close your eyes forever, (your gesture) will, like the light of a burning fire, forever remain in the hearts of your nation’s future generations. And the time will come when other Hampigs and other proud Armenian “ians” will exact your revenge.

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Remember the courageous Soghomon Tehlirian.98 He slaughtered one dog, but a big one, in order to exact revenge on behalf of the Armenian nation.

This Kourken Yanikian slaughtered two dogs. If you weigh them together they (Tehlirian and Yanikian) would be individuals of equivalent value.

The whole Armenian nation should unite in order to save him (Yanikian) so that this opens the door for future revenge seeking youth. Also, remember the old, grey haired individuals who are full of sorrow. Remember all the unburied bodies strewn all over the territory of Western Armenia. If you haven’t seen it, read their stories and listen to what they say — it is the truth and not just opinion.

Hampartzoum Chitjian

One of Many Everyday Expressions

While reminiscing the past both Hampartzoum and Ovsanna would often say, “Eench Kors ounique hos” to mean “Why are we here?” An expression they would utter for which everyone knew the regrettable answer, it was because of a genocide that we are here!