Anahit and Armen: “Why should things go this way?”
By Arpi Harutyunyan
Anahit Abazyan has lived with death and now feels she is facing it.
She and her 22-year old son, Armen, live in the village of Berkaber, near Ijevan in the Tavush region. And on the border with Azerbaijan.
From 1991-1994, Berkaber felt the rage of war.
“I have become useless”
“In the war years my husband did not allow us to leave the village,” Anahit says. “He went to the barracks and cooked for the guys. He used to say: ‘Should we leave our guys without care?’ But we lived in horror, for not a single day passed without a bullet shooting our house.”
Anahit lives with a different horror now. She fears that when she dies, there’ll be no one to take care of Armen – the child she adopted when he was still a baby.
The mother and son live off a pension of about $14 a month. Anahit does not get additional old-age benefits, because she has Armen, an adult son.
But Armen is epileptic.
“Armen fell ill in the war years,” Anahit explains. “When the shootings began the children ran away and he remained alone. He had fainted of fear. The seizures began after that. I can’t take him to the doctor. But if he takes treatment for a bit, he’ll get better and he will be able to work. He is a clever boy.”
Armen has been waived from military service because of the illness. According to Anahit, hospital officials offered to give him disability status, but demanded a bribe, which she couldn’t pay. Want to help Anahit and Armen? HyeSanta suggests financial aid for home repair, a cow, clothes and medicines. Estimated cost: $500. Click here.
The son helps his mother. When they have produce, he cooks, and he does the cleaning.
“I can’t help my child in anything: he does all the jobs,” Anahit says. “I can hardly walk. I have lost my memory. I forget my crutch by the wall and fall. I have turned totally useless.”
Armen feels well only when he leaves for Ijevan to sell fruits. But it does not happen very often, because their garden has not been too productive this year.
“We are in a very bad condition. In other villagers’ homes there are active men at least, but we seem alone,” complains Armen.
“I keep my pension, buy flour, and make bread or lavash to escape hunger for several weeks,” Anahit says. “I economize, but there is nothing left to economize.
“My son wouldn’t let me put oil into the dinner. He says you may not see and may pour too much. But we rarely make dinner either. What from shall we make: there is nothing at home at all. We don’t use meat for months.”
Today there are only few things necessary for the minimal needs in Anahit’s crumbling house: A half broken bed, an ottoman and a table. The room is cold and wet. There are oil-cloths instead of the window glass, and the wind is always felt.
In winter they burn the stove only when neighbors give wood – which isn’t very often. Neighbors in the village have their problems, too.
Until a few weeks ago, Anahit owned five hens. But a fox entered the yard and . . .
“In the morning when I woke up I saw only some feathers remaining. My neighbors came just at the moment I was crying, and in sympathy, gave a hen each,” tells Anahit.
Now she cherishes those three hens, but she can’t afford to feed her son properly, much less take care of the chickens.
“In other villagers’ homes there are active men at least..." Armen wakes early, but does not get out of bed because of the cold. The television set is broken, and even if they could afford repair, he and Anahit could not afford the electricity to use it.
He has very few friends. He is embarrassed that he does not have proper clothes; his shoes are torn . . .
Still, the mother dreams for her son. She wants to live to see her son a married craftsman.
“I wish my Armen was healthy, I could bring a bride for him, have grandchildren,” Anahit says. “When I look at others’ children my heart breaks into pieces; why should things go this way? I am old already, I will die soon and go. I am sorry my son will remain alone.”