Edik and Yura: Together, for better or worse
By Gayane Mkrtchyan
Eleven-year-old Yura’s eyebrows are swollen and red. His cheek and nose are bruised. Boys his age get such marks from scuffles in games. Yura doesn’t have time for such games.
“I experienced myself how it feels to live in an orphanage” “Moso beat me. He told me to give him 700 drams, as if he helped me with selling pendants. I didn’t give him the money, because I was selling them alone. Daddy came in time and gave the money,” he tells. (Moso is a bully who sells items in the same bazaar.)
Yura’s father, 46-year-old Edik Haroyan says that he paid the money so that his son can sell something also tomorrow.
Saturdays and Sundays are workdays for Yura. He gets up in time to catch a bus from Echmiadzin and travel the 12 kilometers to Yerevan, where he sells pendants at the Vernisazh bazaar.
Monday through Friday, he is a schoolboy. Saturday and Sunday he is an 11-year old businessman.
“When daddy was ill and confined to bed, there was nothing to eat at home. I had to go out and sell something not to go hungry. But I still managed to attend school occasionally,” he says.
On one summer day French-Armenian Suren Sherik, who was visiting Armenia, accidentally noticed Yura in the street. Yura made a heavy impression on him. Sherik took the boy to Orran, an agency that helps disadvantage children.
Orran’s social worker Anahit Chakryan says Sherik left $150 for Yura.
“We gave the money to Edik in installments. He took the remaining part of the sum a month ago to buy a new electric heater,” says Anahit and immediately starts speaking about Yura.
“Yura is clever for his age. He is independent, can solve not only all problems, but also find ways out of all situations.”
It is a skill he had to learn early.
Father and son
A simple note changed his life profoundly: “I abandon my child and give him for further upbringing to my former husband Edik Haroyan.” So reads the sentence of Edik’s Ukrainian wife, Marina, written in 1993.
“The fact that Yura knows that his mother left him when he was only three months old and he was brought up by his father obliges him to his father. That is another reason why there is such a strong link between the father and his son,” says Anahit.
It is a bond made by a common history. Edik, himself, was abandoned by his mother, and was raised in an orphanage.
After his first wife abandoned the child, Edik remarried. The second wife demanded that Edik put the boy in a children’s home. The father refused, and chose the child over the wife.
“I would never (put Yura in an orphanage). I experienced myself what it feels to live in an orphanage, to think for years where your parents are, who they are,” says the father.
Many in Echmiadzin remember, in the early 1990s, seeing Edik holding a baby in his arms as they would travel to Vardenis to buy fish, then bring the fish back for resale in Echmiadzin.
Want to help Edik and Yura? HyeSanta suggests financial aid for medical treatment. Click here. In 1994, Edik went to Karabakh to join the war effort. He took Yura with him and he turned three in Karabakh, where his father had fought for the liberation of Martakert.
When they came back to Echmiadzin, in 1996, both Edik and Yura were in bad health. The boy has kidney problems, and Edik had pneumonia and his right lung is damaged.
The father and son are both “second-group” pensioners. Through government benefits and Paros Foundation subsidies they get about $28 a month in aid. Edik is trying to prove that he became ill as a result of his time in the war, so that he can get a $50 military pension.
At their home in Echmiadzin he puts a list of medicines on the table, prescribed by the Republican Anti-Tuberculosis Center in Abovyan. He cannot afford to buy any of them.
During unpleasant evenings Edik spins colored threads. The son hangs on them small lockets with an image of the Virgin. Yura says he buys pendants for 60 drams (about 15 cents) and resells them for 1,000 drams (about $2).
He pays 1,000 drams ($2) per day to rent a place in Vernisage. Some days he sells 10. Some days, none.
Some years ago, Edik found his mother in Echmiadzin, but she did not accept him. He was able to prove that his mother owned property and so he and Yura inherited it after her death.
Edik and Yura
Supper for the father and son sometimes consists of dropping bullion cubes into cups of hot water.
But in their modest home, Edik has kept nearly every item from his son’s childhood – photographs, baby shoes, his first tooth, and even the letter Yura’s mother wrote to disown him.
“I know that I will not live long, but Yura needs a future. I don’t want him to be a trader, but I am in bed all day long, even my bones ache as I speak,” Edik says. “The most important thing is that I have solved the problem of a place to live in and this home is his.”
A conversation about New Year is as if Yura is listening to a fairytale. The father fights tears, knowing that his son’s holiday isn’t likely to be filled with presents and candies.
“Every New Year I dressed him smartly, bought presents,” Edik says. “But now I am disabled and confined to bed.”
There is an adult’s look in Yura’s childish eyes. The bitterness of life tempered him, but his shoulders crumble under such a heavy weight. Even adults become children on that day, but Yura continues to think about his father. The present that Yura expects from this world is one:
“I believe in God, I believe that He will help us one day.”
“When I see other children going for a walk with their parents, I say to my son: “My dear Yura, why are we left alone?” the single dad says.