By Varduhi Kirakosyan
I know what it is like when the intense feeling of hurt and anger pushes you to run away from home. From a simple discussion to a heated argument was just a single step in my family. I remember that as a child, I wished that we had guests every day because in their presence they wouldn’t argue. And I could escape witnessing vicious cycles of arguments between my parents. My mum would shake with anger and with her loud voice she would try to prove my father’s guilt, who, as I remember, hardly admitted that he was wrong, even at times when he really was. But instead he would fight against her till the end, when both of them would run out of steam.
Like our caucasian neighbors, we, Armenians often tend to talk very loudly, especially when we are concerned about something. An ordinary conversation between my parents about anything might could turn into a heated debate and later on into an argument. Those who suffered the most were me and my sister because we did not understand much and we feared of many bad scenarios. We would get into different rooms not to look into each others’ eyes because both of us were feeling ashamed of them and couldn’t mumble a word to justify their “battles” and to comfort each other. It was painful to hear them arguing. So I used to bury my head under several pillows, hoping that I won’t hear their angry words and what they argued for. The reasons though were never clear to me. But once it started, it was growing bigger and bigger like a snowball. They did not think or realize that hurting each other they hurt us the most.
I hoped to see them getting well together in peace and consensus. They thought I did not understand or pay attention, but I did. I was a kid, but I still remember those nights that I have spent crying and realizing that I am powerless to stop them. I couldn’t interfere with them. All I could do was to stay in my room, where I froze with fear that something really bad could happen. Often, in the mornings after witnessing a big argument the day before, all of us would feel ashamed to look into each others’ eyes. They avoided looking at me. Sometimes, I wanted to look at them with an expression that would mean; “How could you let me pass through all of these?” But then I would look away, not to let my eyes give away my thoughts. Often, I would get up earlier to take refuge at my school.
I wondered why couldn’t they free themselves and free me as well through a simple act of divorce that as I thought back then could work well for everyone. As a child, I thought that very soon we would move to live with my grandma (mother’s mum) and with my childish curiosity I thought that it might be cool, since I will live with my cousins. But to my joy, as I think of it today, it never happened. Divorce wasn’t and still isn’t easily accepted in Armenian society. Most Armenians consider it to be a social disgrace. I couldn’t understand why. But for my family, divorce has never been in the list of possible solutions. And I am happy that my family didn’t consider it to be one back then.
I admit that many women in Armenia endure the difficulties and misunderstandings in their marriage just because they don’t want to feel the shame that divorce brings on them. But sometimes, such negative perspective on divorce makes people work on themselves and avoid family separation. This is how it worked in my family’s case. Others might call us “narrow-minded” because many Armenians feel like divorce is something that should and has to be avoided in most cases since it is considered to be a social disgrace. But this “narrow-mindedness” kept my family united; my two sisters, my mum and dad and my grandma with grandpa.
We don’t choose our family. I am happy with my mum, who sometimes gets angry at me even though I might not be guilty of anything. These are days when I just let her say whatever she want and I hear her without complaining because I know that she might have had a hard day. I am happy with my grandpa, who is not having dinner with everyone, waiting to have one with me because he knows I don’t like to eat alone. I am happy with my father who pleads me to sing a song and to play the guitar for him. And I am happy with my grandma, who prepares dishes and asks my opinion on the taste with an expression on her face that I can never say that it wasn’t good, even if I didn’t like the taste. I believe my role is the simplest; to be a good daughter for them.