From the story of a boy from Van who would build schools and churches in Buenos Aires. Told by his granddaughter Lara Vanian.
My grandfather Gurgen was 11 years old when the Genocide raged through the village of Ardamed located near Van. Most of his family were massacred by the Turks, but his grandfather and sister managed to escape. Four of his brothers and sisters died.
A few minutes before the massacre, he and his friends were playing outside when Turks armed with sabers suddenly attacked them. In a panic, the children tried to flee or hide.
Grandpa managed to hide in a haystack. He saw his friends being killed and was sure that his turn would come next. A few hours later, when the night fell, he got out from under the haystack but noticed approaching Turks. This time, he had to hide under the bodies of his dead friends.
The Turks began to strike the dead bodies with their sables to make sure that the children are dead. They had nearly approached my grandfather when they were recalled by the commander.
The massacres have lasted for years. Grandfather was starving, was sent to an orphanage, and when the American charitable organization went bankrupt, he was sold into slavery in Greece. In the end, he managed to reunite with his father who was in America at the time of the massacres. His father sent him money so that he could buy his freedom from the Greek slaveholder and purchase a ticket to Argentina to go to a relative.
Later, grandfather, together with others rescued, built Armenian schools, a church in Buenos Aires, and took part in the creation of a large Armenian community.
My mother was born in Buenos Aires. I would have also been born there, hadn’t she one day go to Los Angeles and fall in love with my father. Over time, our entire family moved to Los Angeles.
Grandfather passed away at the age of 95, having managed to convey his story, heritage, temperament, and dreams to his grandchildren. My mother, Alisa Kirakosian, wrote a book based on the memories of my grandfather. A year after my mother’s death, I published this book in Los Angeles.