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.
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.
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.
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.
Image 1 (two men)
This brother of mine started crying upon hearing about the sufferings my parents had experienced. He kept saying, ՛՛Why God put us through trials?՛՛
This is my miserable sister. Her marriage lasted only 3 months. She left for America. She was a follower of Enlightenment.
Highlights from Any Given Day
Daily Experience of an Armenian Orphan
Stories Not In The Memoirs
My Memory of the dire days
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″.
Year Of Mourning -1915 / Blood Spattered Date – Version 2
Year Of Mourning – 1915 / Version 3 & 4
A Gutt Wrenching Loss
Penetrating letter Hampartzoum writes to Krikor Bedoian recounting his experiences during the Armenian Genocide
This Is What Good Teachers Taught Us In Perri
About Mr. Raymond
My Appreciation of Malatya
My appreciation of Malatya
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.
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.
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!