Why Does Minimalism Win/Suffice? (in the arts, advertsing, fashion, life….)

Love you, Kamala… muaah !
Minimalisn is not laziness. It is an umbrella value that welcomes simplicity, cuts out the clutter, and allows love for people and things to grow on our acceptance of little facts and small themes respective to each.

Kamala Thompson

Minimalism can refer to a few things. In the arts, minimalism was a trend that started in the 1950s. Paintings, sculptures, other visual arts and music would utilize the repetition of very short phrases, rhythms, and patterns. Today, minimalism has become a lifestyle philosophy centered around removal of everything that distracts us and only having things in our life that are necessary or have true value. Within this philosophy there are interconnected themes of living in the moment, emotional health, passion and mission, taking action, contribution, and change and experimentation. It makes sense that with the rise of all our technological advancements that there would be a rise in this philosophy. Scientific research has even proven that technological over-stimulation has actually desensitized people and caused them to become bored with their own lives. The result of having too many options and having too many decision to make can actually diminish…

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Universe, World And The Self

This essay arose of a conversation that remained incomplete, largely because of the apparent unfamiliarity my interlocutor had with the subject, which factor lent an air of abstraction to the matter despite it being so obvious and close a phenomenon to ourself. The difficulty at the core of its seeming obtruseness was two-fold : one, the meaning we carry of the terms are so very formal that they remain distant from ourself, compared to the carnal and electronic objects that readily engage the youth of our day; and two, any attempt to segregate the entities, and their phenomenal effervescence in our mind, fails to start because we ourself are too caught up in the mix to lay out the categories at play separately, sequentially and seamlessly between the universe yonder, our world at hand, and the heady couldron of vitality playing things up as feelings, emotions and thoughts in our mind.

Universe, World And The Self

The Terms

The universe is the endless expanse, the mother set, containing all the astronomical and heavenly bodies, visible and invisible, known and mysterious. It includes our world and our self within it.

The world about us reduces to “our” world for all practical purposes, with objects that actually occupy our memory and mind more or less, in some way or other. The entities come in all shape and form, state of animation and consciousness, nature and character, and value to ourself in the long and short term.

The self — our self — is the being we are, the person who decides the right and wrong for ourself, who is curious and who engages with the objects in our world, who notices the feeling and identifies with the prevailing will and emotion, happy or sad, enthused or indifferent.

The Personal Phenomena

Our individual being involves our world and our self, with all the objects and entities about us, which we live in the midst of and value, positively and negatively, often in the same single thing, person or being. There is a wider world out there, distinct from our world, that we are either not intimately aware of or to which we are indifferent because it does not touch us, that does not engage us in the least for now. But our living being is restricted to all that affects us, physically or by their presence in our memory, in the way it makes our vitality rise and ebb, outward to action or inward to feeling quickened or depressed, draws our emotion to flare with a will of its own, triggers our thought stream hither and thither, making our desire next sprout or dry, and leads our self through an experience memorable or forgettable.

Our experience of life, and indeed our life itself, is an endless train of such streaming consciousness constituted of this mix : feelings and emotions, will and thought, desire and knowledge, memory and more, with the self — the sense we have of ourself — often helpless like a ball ricocheting  from the walls upon a momentum imparted in unknown past or an oarless boat in the middle of  flowing waters. What we gather along the journey in life, through our growing up years, is knowledge and memory of the character or nature of things, person or individual beings, usually in binary terms : happy, or not. Each encounter or recall of this summary sense, as it happens, brings in its trail the emotion and will that our psychological or attitudinal behaviour, caution or enthusiasm and more extreme expressions at the juncture. And thus life continues to happen : happy or sad, or in the pall of any other shade in between.

The Exploring And Analysing Self

There are several reasons why we wake up to need of reviewing the momentum of the personal phenomena upon which we are carried, and to the burning will to intervene. Often it is the consequences, material and mental, that leave us dissatisfied, inadequate, delinquent or destitute. Or, usually in comparison with our peers or with inspiration from other people’s lives past or present, there is a sense of not doing justice to what we have and what more we could do with greater control over our phenomenal being, with empowering our psychological self at making the most of our situation, spotting opportunities and playing up to our strengths. Too, it is extremely deflating to our self-esteem to realise that we are living the animal way, to our lowest nature, or are being merely passive or reactive to our happennings. And lastly, we might discover that the unexamined knowledge we have gathered is mostly untrue, that we need to revisit each as they come and bring our conclusion up to date. Whatever the cause, we then want to put an end to our self-cipher outside-in existence and steel ourself to imposing our will inside-out, to being what and how we want ourself to be and experiencing a life by our own choices than by what fate or our world has thus far deemed it to be.

A true awakening is more a phase than a moment : outwardly langorous and dilated but hyperactive inwardly. In that state of concentrated awareness, we refuse to be moved even as we go through the motions and insist on observing and knowing the details of our personal phenomena as it occurs : the feeling caused by an object on our world, the emotion representative of our reaction to it, our will that automatically presents itself … that jucture when we can choose to react or contemplate the pros and cons of alternate courses, the thoughts at reviewing the object, the feeling and the emotion, the will we were ready to commit ourself to, and the state of our own being, the quality of our self … We hold ourself at it, intending to exhaust the fulness of one series : object, feeling, emotion to the object and to the feeling it causes, the will and the choices, the doubts, the light on ourself, and the values we hold to ourself in the shadows of our each thought and glance at the categories and their possibilities thus laid out.

Our Self And Our ValuesSelf and Values

To fast forward, we may now observe the continuous series of categories laid out before us, connecting seamlessly the universe and the self :

[ Universe ] — [ World ] — [ Our World ] — [ Objects, Entities, Plants, Trees, Animals, People, Food, Sex, Beautiful Form, Panorama, Family, Friends…] — [ Senses : Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch, Hear ; Mind ] — [ Feeling ] — [ Emotion : Will ] — [ Thought : Doubt, Examination, Analysis, Possibility ] — [ Knowledge ] — [ Self : State, Quality, Values ]

Of  the above, we notice, animals are arrested by their emotions and accompanying will; and so are we. The only interactive behaviour that sets them to peace, and is hence both necessary and sufficient, is love. And so it with us, as far as others are involved and our interactive behaviour goes.

However, as human beings with the power to be pro-active, to change ourselves and our world about us, we need to choose our values and therefore need to know what works, which yields what and how. The knowledge and values are already indicated by our history, our myths, our texts ancient and modern, our epics, our traditions and our ways of life. It is upto each one of us to inform ourself, know and choose for ourself, and to embark upon that journey of examining and clarifying from experience that which is absolute and invariable and those that are relative and dependent upon situation and circumstance.

Some truths are universal though :

—   Feelings are nature’s means to reveal itself to us. Men do not cause feelings, our world does. We do not stop feeling except when we are literally or sort of dead.

—  Emotions are our own and arise almost always from the dark and unexamined part of our within. They are mostly wasteful except when prompted of love.

—   Our mind is a means and an instrument to feel, examine and know our world, our emotions and will, our memory and impressions from past, as also to sense the state and quality of our self and the values we associate with.

—   The values we choose and commit ourselves to provides a firm unshakeable ground to ourself; nothing else does. The self committed to values empowers the will to choose the right course of action; nothing else does.

—   There is no truth apart from our self. It is lost in the mind, in thoughts and habitual emotions, in addictive feelings, when we begin our search for our self. The process of extricating our self and living in the light of its truth is the eternal way.

Let’s walk it.


Paan, My Love

Ha – ah – ha … love them both : the man and the outlet !

No one can make a great paan except with love.

Shot in winter time, rather dark evening.

There is a queue, if did not notice.

Ah, Paan, my love !

Have not partaken as frequently

but the feeling for you is undiminshed …


The Pan Outlet

Journal : Awakening… Into The Truth


Everybody loves and is happy, more or less. None of which abides though : loves meet the gutter and happiness is flushed in the sink. If we are into possessions, there is always more to have; if sensory experience, more to consume. Feelings and emotions ? There is nothing more mutable than them, by the minute. Thoughts and actions follow … for the same : love and happiness.

There is a love though that is not people- or thing-specific, not even beholden to returns in cash, behaviour or kind. It is not abstract but palpable, like the love we have of ourself … but only to one that is de-identified with lineage, station or familly, with the body, sex or vitality, or with knowledge and ability. 

Such love abides : without the necessity of give and take. It is unworldly, so to say. It not an idea but is ideal, resting on the reality of the truth of an idea realised. It is of the heart, in love with that reverberating in its beat. It needs no other and is more than adequate for all – in nature, people, animals, things, good, bad and ugly – despite conflicts and contradictions in our world of action and thought. One could be opposing to restrain, fight to disable or kill to eliminate, be it one who praises or humiliates, even watch horrible conduct flow out of one’s own self … but that realised idea shines unblemished and with it, the love : perfect in the midst of imperfections, calm through the trail of agitation.

The love we each already have is not dependent on preferred happenings, though we would give ourselves with our whole heart to make things happen. It seeks no change, even while we would be working hard to bring it about. It is placid, in its own thanks of being, in its own freedom from identity and preference, in its own knowledge of truth in one’s own regard, in its own unity with the manifest, felt and unmanifest universe, and in its own bliss, eternal and infinite.

The concomitant happiness is of the nature of peace to which its variants converge with diverse hues : pleasure, joy, satisfaction, contentment, enthusiasm, discovery, welcome, fulness, exhilaration, ecstasy … There is no abiding happiness without eternal love, nor that without true knowledge. 

Though we pick up the words floating in material space, our quest for love and happiness completes itself in the transcendent space of knowledge infinite, where the terms morph into forms unrecognisable from our references in the gross and subtle spaces !

Journal : The Modern Contradiction We Live To Chase

All identities, esp religious and political, demand loyalty to a “Super” Order …  a Church, an Ummah, a Socialist Internationale, a Maoist dream, a grand global collective that bars dissent. In aspring to such a grand social or political order, it actually strikes at the *family* affiliation, the first informal institution and nursery of love that has little difficulty in embracing dissent.

But super orders insist on an exclusive affiliation, an uniformity in their ranks, raised along a rather tall hierachical structure, that brooks no deviation. It has set values that deny diversity of human thought and dismiss the creativity that the child in us delights in. The denial rules out a better or improved understanding; the dismissal takes away from our lives our capacity for love, our joy and happiness.

What remains, without the freedom to soar in thought and expand love in our hearts ? A society without family … the one and only collective that includes diversity of human nature, understanding and creativity. That is a recipe to a terrible disorder, not a grand order … for at no time and under no circumstance can human beings live without those freedoms, that allows us to meet again in love after pursuing our diverse ways, however long it takes, and makes reconciliation a natural, pervasive matter of fact in lives.

What remains is what we modern men see about us : failed religious orders, failed political dreams, failed education systems, failed democracies, failed enlightened values, failed behavioural norms, failed … human beings !

It’s the modern contradiction we are living, the chimera we are chasing without the family … that alone will accept us as we are, encourage us however different we seem, imbibe in us that sea of tranquility and rootedness signified in our feeling of love, on which we can build an understanding that is at once beautiful and true, and good for us all.

Let’s embrace the family. Let’s raise one in love, peace and knowledge. Let’s set the tradition, in truth.

Journal : Atharva Veda – Part II


[ Part I @ https://vamadevananda.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/journal-atharva-veda-part-i-29-2/ ]

Source :Hymns of the Atharva Veda [ 1895 ] by Ralph T.H. Griffith


Vedas, Vedic Age and Vedic People : A Brief contd

Vedas do not advocate any religion. It is a body of truth and practice, with a knowledge and belief system in accord, that projects the ” Sanatan ” way of life. It does not have a God apart from ourself, a Prophet for our exclusive salvation, an organised administrative structure headquartered in a particular place, a specific Book for veneration, and a plethora of rules with manned mechanism for watch and control over the laity.

The Vedas are panentheistic, the perspective concomiting with monism, which blows away the seeming idolatory in Vedic practice oft apparent to Western eyes. Even the proverbial ” beam in the eyes ” of the followers of both Christianity and Islam, when they actually worship the idols prominent in churches or the Black Stone in Ka’ba, is acceptable to a Sanatan practioner who sees all deistic, monotheistic or pantheistic, observations as so many means to arrive and subsume in the monistic unity.

No one can be converted into Hindu or Sanatan Dharma. One can only grow into it, through a long period of imbibing and internalisation : Sareeramadyam Khalu Dharmasadhanam. However, once the Vedic truths are instated in one’s reason and understanding, it is easy to subscribe to the way in practice, without having to obtain any approval or formal initiation.

*   *   *

Contrary to what laymen, religious spokesmen and pundits in the West believe, Dharma does not translate into religion as Christianity or Islam conveys.  It refers to a righteousness, of what is right and wrong, derived from perceived ” Eternal Living Principle ” converging on every heavenly system in the universe, each terrestial entity, body or life, and upon our very self. Dharma is everything that promotes life, beauty, balance, sustainability, harmony, abundance, growth and happiness. It is evident in nature, its natural functions and empowering processes, of which all being is manifest.

Dharma, to the Vedic people and Sanatan followers, means a codified art of living as individuals and being as a community. It purported to build upon nature, its beauty and wealth, a human order that would be in accord, that would institute a way of life which allowed animal fulfilments in civilised ways and constantly point to ways and means to excel at that, both personally and collectively. It raised the perspective and values system oriented towards ” Liberation for Self and Welfare of All,” ” The World is One Family,” … very dictums that guide the informed Hindu even today.

Dharma endeavours to mould and form human beings who would not sink into animal attitudes and behaviour in personal life or take to socially destructive conduct upon assuming power or authority of sorts, who would instead become, contribute and continue to tread the path of excellence all his life. Every feature and practice of the Vedic order was instituted with that purpose in context, especially the Gurukul education and internship system that fostered such values as respect for truth, justice, love, friendship, liberty, forgiveness, uprightness, honesty, sincerity, humility and self restraint.

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(9)        A Charm To Accompany The Shaving Of Beard


( Lo ! ) Savitr is here with the razor

O Vāyu ! Come thou with hot water.

Let the one-minded Ādityas

Rudras and Vasus moisten the hair.

Shave ye, who know King Soma !

Let Aditi shave the beard

And let the Waters bathe it with their strength.

Let Prajāpati restore his health, good sight

And days extended over a long life !

This razor used by Savitr for shaving

The one who knows Varuna and the royal Soma

Even with this shave ye, O Brāhman

Let this man, the one who shaves

Be rich in horses, kine, and children.

(10)       A Priest’s Benediction Upon Food


O Agni, the Hotr !

        Make all that I eat

        As sacrifice well-offered …

        All food, of varied form and nature

        Whether bought with gold

        Or received as a gift …

        Horse, sheep, goat or bullock.

        Whatever … sacrificed or not

        Bestowed by men

        And sanctioned by the Fathers

        That comes to me

        Pleases and delights …

        May Agni, the Hotr

        Render as sacrifice well-offered.

        O Gods !

        Whatever I eat unjustly

        Of food bestowed and received

        With a measure of doubt

        Whether to accept or refuse

        That I now swallow…

        May the greatness of Universal Being

        – Vaisvaanara, the mighty

        Make it sweet and blessed

        To me.

(11)       A Charm To Restore Or Increase Virile Power


As the black snake spreads himself at pleasure

Making wondrous forms …

So, with Asura’s potent consecration

Let the potion promptly make thy member

Vigorously correspond, limb to limb.

As the member of the tayadara inflates with the wind

Becoming as big as the member of the wild ass

So too, let thy member grow and become.

As much of a limb as is that of the wild ass

That of the elephant

And that of the domestic ass …

As great and vigorous as that of the horse

So too, let thy member grow and become.

(12)       A Nuptial Benediction


Let this man be again bedewed

With this benedictory sacrifice we now offer

And comfort with the sap of life

The bride, whom is to marry him.

With life’s sap let him comfort her

And raise her high with princely sway

In wealth that has a thousand powers …

That, the couple be inexhaustible !

Tvashtr formed her to be thy dame

Tvashtr has made thee to be her lord.

Let Tvashtr give you both a long life.

Let Tvashtr give to you a thousand lives.

(13)       A Prayer For Pardon For Cheating In Game


If we have sinned with both our hands

Desiring to take the host of dice

To regain our loss …

May both Apsaras today forgive us that debt –

Ye, the one who brutally conquers

And ye, the one who is fierce to look at.

Ye, the stern viewers of sins !

Ye, who rule the people !

Forgive us for what happened as we gambled

And not urge us to pay the debt we owe to him

( nor leave us saddled with that burden upon us ).

For he was with a cord

To Yama’s kingdom.

My creditor, the man whose wife I visit

He, O Gods, whom I supplicated before …

Let not such men dominate me in speech.

O ye Apsaras duo, the gods’ consorts !

Mind this : let not the burden be upon us

Let not such men dominate me in speech.

(14)      A Charm To Be Pronounced By Bride and Groom


Sweet are the glances of our eyes

Our faces are as smooth as balm

Within thy bosom harbour me

For one spirit dwelleth in both of us !

(15)       A Charm For Success And Happiness


With fortune of the Sisu tree

With Indra as my friend to aid

I give myself a happy fate.

Fly and begone, ye Malignities !

That splendour and felicity

Wherewith thou hast excelled the trees

Give me therewith a happy fate.

Fly and begone, ye Malignities !

Blind fortune

With new leaves

Then deposited within the trees —

Give me therewith a happy fate.

Fly and begone, ye Malignities.

(16)       A Woman’s Love Charm


This is the Apsaras’ love-spell

Conquering and irresistible.

Send the spell forth, ye Deities !

Let him be consumed

With his love for me.

I pray, may he remember me

Think of me as loving

And his beloved.

Send forth the spell, ye Deities !

Let him be consumed

With his love for me.

That he may think of me

That I may never, never think of him.

Send forth the spell, ye Deities !

Let him be consumed

With his love for me.

Madden him, O Maruts, madden him !

Madden him, madden him, O Vayu !

Madden him, O Agni, madden him !

Let him be consumed

With his love for me.

(17)       A Young Man’s Love Charm


From honey sprang this plant to life;

with honey now we dig thee up.

Make us as sweet as honey

For, from honey hast thou been produced.

My tongue hath honey at the tip

And sweetest honey at its root :

Thou yieldest to my wish and will

And shalt be mine and only mine.

My coming in is honey-sweet

And honey-sweet, my going forth.

My voice and words are sweet.

I fain would be like honey, in my look.

Sweeter am I than honey

Yet more full of sweets than licorice :

So mayst thou love me, and only me

As a branch full of all the sweets.

Around thee have I girt

A zone of sugarcane

To banish hate.

That, thou mayst be in love with me

My darling, never to depart.

(18)       A Woman’s Love Charm


Down upon thee, from head to foot

I draw the pangs of love longing.

Send forth the charm, ye Deities !

Let him be consumed

With his love for me.

Assent to this, O Heavenly Grace !

Celestial Purpose, guide it well !

Send forth the charm, ye Deities !

Let him be consumed

With his love for me.

If thou shouldst run three leagues away

Five leagues, a horse’s daily stage

Thence shalt thou come to me again

And be the father of our children.

(19)       A Man’s Love Charm


As the wind shake this tuft of grass

Hither and thither on the ground

So do I stir and shake thy mind

That, thou mayst be in love with me

My darling, never to depart.

Ye, Asvins ! Lead together and unitedly work

To bring us loving couple close, body and heart.

Now let us have the fortunes of you twain

The vows ye have for other

And your spirit when we meet.

When eagles, calling aloud, are screaming

With the joy of good health

Then let her come to my calling

As does the shaft

Attached to the arrow’s neck.

Let what is within me

Reach out to her

Let what reaches enter her within :

O Plant ! Seize and possess the mind

Of the maiden rich in every charm.

Seeking a husband she has come !

And I came longing for wife :

Even as a steed neighing loud

May I meet the fortune and good fate.

(20)       A Woman’s Charm


The philter that gods have poured

Within the bosom of the floods …

I heat the spell for thee

By Varuna’s decree

Burning with pangs

Of my love yearning for thee.

The charm which the gods have poured

Within the bosom of the floods

Burning with the pangs of my love …

That spell for thee I heat

By Varuna’s decree.

The philter which Indrāni has effused

Within the waters’ depth

Burning with the pangs of my longing …

That spell for thee I heat

By Varuna’s decree.

The charm, aglow with my longing

Which Indra and Agni have effused

Within the bosom of the floods …

That spell for thee I heat

By Varuna’s decree.

The charm aglow with my longing

Which Mitra and Varuna have poured

Within the bosom of the floods …

That spell for thee I heat

By Varuna’s decree.

(21)       A Man’s Love Charm


Let the Impeller goad thee on

May thou rest not in peace upon thy bed.

Terrible is the shaft of Love …

Therewith I pierce thee

Unto thy very heart.

That arrow winged with longing and my thought

… its stem, Desire; its neck, Resolve.

Let Kāma truly aim and shoot forth

And pierce thee

Into thy very heart.

The shaft of Kāma, pointed well

That withers and consumes the spleen.

With hasty feathers, all aglow …

Therewith I pierce thee

Unto thy very heart.

Pierced through

With fiercely burning heat

I steal to me

Gentle and humble

With thy parching lips

All mine own, devoted …

With sweet words of love.

I drive thee hither with a whip

Away from thy mother and sire

That thou mayst be at my command

And yield to every wish of mine.

O Mitra ! O Varuna !

Expel all thought and purpose

From her heart.

Deprive her of her own free will

And make her subject unto me.

(22)       A Charm To Secure A Match For A Girl Of Age


O Agni ! Let her soon be happy

With a husband who, to please us

May show up

And be approved by wooers

Be respected in assemblies

And shines in congregations.

May such a suitor arrive

Seeking this maid

And bringing good fortune to us.

I work the bridal oracle

With God Dhātar’s truthfulness …

For bliss, beloved of Soma

Bliss, dear to Prayer

And bliss, gathered by Aryaman.

O Agni ! May this woman find a husband.

Then, verily, may King Soma make her happy.

May she bear sons

Be the chief lady of her household

Be blessed and bearing

And rule beside her consort.

As this lair, O Maghavan

That is now fair to look on

Was dear to wild things once

As a pleasant dwelling they owned …

So too, may this maiden here

Be a darling to Bhaga

Be loved by her lord

And be the prize

Of his coveting affection.

O Girl ! Mount up

Embark on Bhaga’s ship

The full, the inexhaustible …

And thereon bring hitherward to us

The lover whom thou would wed.

Call out to him, O Lord of Wealth !

Make thou the lover well inclined.

Set each on thy right hand

And send the one lover

Who is a worthy of her choice.

Here is the Bdellium and the gold

The Auksha and the bliss …

Bring these thee, O Girl

To the suitors assembled here

To find the man whom thou would have.

May Savitr lead and bring to thee

The husband whom thy heart desires.

O Plant, be this thy gift to her !

(23)       A Woman’s Imprecation On Her Unfaithful Lover


O Plant, thy fame is spread abroad

As best of all the herbs that grow !

Emasculate for me today this man

That he may wear the horn of hair.

Make him an eunuch with a horn

And set thou the crest mark

Upon his head.

Let Indra with two pressing stones

Deprive him of his manhood.

I have unmanned thee, eunuch !

Yea, impotent !

Made thee impotent

And robbed thee, o weakling !

Of thy strength.

Upon his head we set the horn

And we set the branching ornament.

Two of thy veins the gods have made

In which lie the vigor of a man.

I pierce those testicles of yours

With wooden studs

And take away their life

For that woman

Who has taken charge of you.

As a reed or cane is split

To make a mat

So do I split your wooden penis

Down to your testicles

For that woman to have.

MAYRIG ~ The Portrait Of A Mother

I saw Mayrig and its sequel, 588 Rue Paradis, in recent months and have since wanted to review it. It is overpoweringly sublime art, a long poetry of the heart, of love and flowing life and all emotions that engender within us between the two. It is the saga of personal struggle of three generations of a loving close-knit emigrant family, which escapes persecution and certain death, who are forced to survive in a foreign land in very different and largely loveless milieu.

As it reveals, the story is an epic narration in the classic mould. It weaves individual stories with global happenings, and both into the state of times after the First World War. It is about the collective human distrust distinct communities secrete, as was historically between the Moslem Turks and Armenian Christians. It portrays the existential quality of times, the social attitudes and hardships of common people in the first half of 20th Century France. And it deals with the discriminatiing values of native elites in the years post World War II, when the disadvantaged were looked down upon and alien cultural mores were yet shunned.


This book doesn’t say much with it’s title. It is unknown to most readers, unless they are Armenian. It means “mother” in Armenian, and the author starts the book with a simple and sad sentence : “Mayrig is dying.” Then he goes back to his gloomy childhood, and tells a story that astonishes the reader. It is the history of Armenian people; the history of 1915 masacres of 1.5 million Armenians commited by the Turkish government. It is a wonderful piece of literature, an amazing story of Achod Malakian – an Armenian boy, who had to leave his parents’ homeland, adapt to a new society, and adopt the Parade street of Marseilles in France.

The films, Mayrig and 588 Rue Paradis, are adapted from the book ” Mayrig ” authored by the filmmaker himself, Henri Verneuil. The autobiographical book starts with the man at his mother’s deathbed, holding fast to her hand with all the poignancy of a saga behind that moment, reflecting on the story that will no longer be theirs from hereon but his alone. Thence, the journey begins… back to a childhood lovingly remembered, with the fondness we feel for ours and ourself and the tenderness of the mother’s heart at its center.

” It is an odyssey that takes us not only through time but through the complex landscape of relationships and emotional milestones in which the young Achod Malakian, as Henri Verneuil was then known,  grew and attained manhood.

” The steamer to France, the search for a place to live, a poor man’s summer vacation, looking for work, the nightmare of school… these are only some of the themes and places this story will take you. It tells a universal tale of all men and women who, one way or another, are exiled and reborn, heartbroken and hopeful, defeated and triumphant. “

The book is important not only because it is based on real happenings but, too, that the story of one family represents the survival of an entire nation. It depicts with great sensitivity the heritage and life of one man’s rise from a difficult but happy childhood to the very heights of a successful career. It demonstrates how love and care within the family are the cornerstones to our strength and happiness through the hardest of times. And, that nothing is more important for a person in his life than to make his parents contented and proud.

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The review writing hit a block even before its start. There was very little on the web to research from. A Google search for ” Mayrig ” returned more restaurant entries of the same name in Middle East. Hundreds of sites claiming to hold everything about the film had a blank or a four – liner for synopsis. And, an invitation to be the first to write a review !

In brief, Mayrig is a 1991 French film, a semi – autobiographical adaptation for the silver screen, written and directed by French – Armenian filmmaker Henri Verneuil. The film’s principal cast includes Claudia Cardinale and Omar Sharif. It is about an Armenian family that emigrates to France from Turkey in 1921, after the Armenian genocide of 1915. The family boards a ship to escape persecution and the film takes us through their travails, their efforts at setting themselves up in business in Marseilles society, untill the time the son of the family grows up to be an educated young man. The career he chose for himself though, as a dramatist and playwright, terribly disappoints the expectant elders. It is an epic portrayal, with an eventful storyline and a narration fleshing out to fullest the characters constituting the dramatis personea. 

The sequel, 588 Rue Paradis, is where the drama occurs when the adult son recounts his relationship with the aging father, his loving mother, and with his ethnic identity. It starts some forty years after the story begins in Mayrig and takes us back in flashes to the days when he had to give up his cultural identity, including the ethnic sounding name lovingly given by his parents, to gain access to his adopted society and its acceptance of him and his work. He reminisces the part played by his wife in that makeover while climbing the ladder to professional fame and social success. He thinks of his aged parents ( played by Omar Sharif and  Claudia Cardinale ) who still live a modest existence in Marseilles, but with their original names and family identity intact, and of how the material expression of his feelings for them, through tangibles, insults the informal swell of love his elders have always showered on him. He rues the fact that his father dies before he could tell him how deeply and truly he has always felt for him. He subsequently spends much of his time with his mother and buys her an exclusive garden house in her old neighborhood. Later, he returns to Marseilles to buy his childhood home at 588 Rue Paradis, which is full of his happy memories.

Given the high profile star cast of the two movies, it is surprising to know that the films were not dubbed for international audiences or screened with English subtitles until 2006. The two films have since been successfully melded into an interesting whole, and the newly edited and English subtitled version of “Mayrig” was world premiered at the Jefferson Academic Center, Clark University, Massachusetts. 

We will have to make more than one start to review as telescopically complex and complete a presentation as has been made in the twin movies.

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“Mayrig” is a compelling family drama straddling 40 plus years… a long lyric of emotions portrayed at just the right pitch by actors who fit their part. But it is not they who keep us in ponder or provide the film’s real dramatic heft. In this one, the script is the winner and the director’s deep conviction, rooted in his personal experience, shows in the clear vision of which the acts have been put together and sequenced. The story itself is powerful but it is its understated account, with minimal dialogues and fulsome visuals, that makes for the remarkable effect the film has on us.

The script develops quite a wit, and when Verneuil has something profound to say his film communicates the thoughts and emotions with unmistakable eloquence. It is Verneuil’s personal story, his intensely felt vision, his depth of feeling behind the craft, which infuses conviction into the film and its characters. Verneuil is the director and the film is his masterpiece.

The film is narrated by the adult Azad, the lone son of the Zakarian family. It starts with a recount of the family stepping off the ship on the Mediterranean coast at Marseilles in south-east of France, when the narrator is a mere seven-year old kid. There are nervous moments waiting for the official stamp at the immigration checking counter… Will they be allowd to step up to a new life ? Or, will they have to return to the horrors of the genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government ? Snapshots of those horrors, as remembered by one of the survivors, follow. Apkar is a friend of the Zakarian family already in Marseilles, an important character in the film brilliantly essayed by Jacky Nercessian. He is prematurely old, lame of permanent damage in one foot and carries pneumonial tubercolosis in his lungs… all a result of that fateful journey the Turks hounded him through. But despite the extreme encounters with misery and death, the bonhomie remains in his nature. He lives and laughs, and is even cured of the malaise in his chest, in time. Those scenes of the forced march in the desert are grim and convincing, and lay out what was at stake for the Zakarians while they waited at French immigration.

Then begins the long battle at settling down in the Marseilles society of 1920s, a melting pot of diverse populations drawn from Italy, Spain, Algeria and, of course, Armenia. The gold coins sewed in coat buttons are brought out to hire an abode on a road that has a tramline passing over it. The Zakarian family has one male elder – Hagop, Azad’s father, played by Omar Sharif, who goes out to a job in a factory. But the lone kid in the family has three devoted mothers who find work, first at dressing buttonholes and then as seamstress – Araxi, the mother of Azad called throughout as Mayrig, meaning Mother, enacted by Claudia Cardinale; aunt Anna,  the house master chef of all Armenian delicacies and most openly doting of the three, played by Isabelle Sadoyan; and aunt Gayane, the loving nurse forever aligned with Azad’s heart, potrayed by Nathalie Roussel. Azad takes the tram to the best of French schools in the neighbourhood. In time, the family prospers, Hagop learns dressmaking from the ladies, Azad goes to college, and the Zakarians buy out a property where they open shop as dressmakers and reside on the floor above. 

The prequel shows Azad’s progress up to 1940, when he is about 27 years of age. The entire family invests much love and hope in their young son, Azad. The boy meets much prejudice in his teachers and schoolmates, and little empathy or understanding. But he finds the strength within himself to endure it all, without any permanent damage to his psyche or personality. He has a friend or two but no more. His greatest source of positivity however is the love – filled home which eternally secures him. Totally doted on,  there is no sacrifice or effort the Zakarian elders will not make for his education, career, happiness and well-being. That rootedness becomes the foundation for him to build his understanding of the environment and the people about him, and provides the emotional stability necessary for taking personal risks and growing his capacity for life – to experience, learn and persevere. 

Through the narration however, the film does verge on sentimentality but avoids sliding into unabashed sappiness. There is emotion of all hue – longing, love, despair and joy – but sans vanity… which leaves intact their sweetness, depth, and dignified orientation with the story as it unravels. The director succeeds in keeping the pace with great music and brilliant essays by Cardinale and Sharif, and all the actor ensemble, who are able to communicate with look and gesture than words when the it is most needed.

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The great tragedy that befalls the Armenian people in 1915, earlier in 1896 – 97, and later during the the war with Turkey about 1920… the genocide, massacres, fear and persecution… is like a pall in the background to both Mayrig and its sequel. They movingly allude to the millions then slaughtered, robbed and raped, by the Turks and, rather, to all those who escaped and survived the horrer and refused to let it destoy them. Their entire families are murdered or destroyed, and they have to make a life in a foreign country while trying to deal with the ghosts of their past. Their eyes look forward but the thought is never without the knowledge of the children, pregnant women, old and infirm, who were cut with ” yataghans,” the short sabre that Ottoman soldiers were never without. The brutality of Turkish soldiers and the pain inflicted by kurdist bandits made no sense when entire people from large villages are killed in a day, Armenian priests mutilated for life with cut noses, lips or ears, or innocents subjected to extreme cruelty and the honourable heaped with indignities.

The aspects and themes taken up in Mayrig repeat in the sequel : a boy and his family, life in alien surroundings in a strange country among foreign people, human survival horrors, renewal at life afresh, and carrying on with the legacy and the fact of being an Armenian. We meet Azad, the boy in Mayrig, anew, as a rather gaunt – looking middle – aged playwright. His kindly parents are old but are strangely a source of acute irritation to Azad’s non – Armenian wife.

On his way to success, Azad Zakarian has forsaken his Armenian roots, traded his real name for that of Pierre Zakar and changed his city Marseilles for Paris, where he lives an opulent life. When his parents come to Paris to see him, their interaction throws up such strains that he is forced to reconsider his modern moorings and that inscrutable vanity he finds himself projecting before souls who had none.

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The film 588 Rue Paradis starts with news of the acquittal of Soghomon Tehlirian, an Armenian who still in citizen of Turkey living in Germany, who had killed Talaat Pasha in Berlin. The announcement is greeted with elation and everybody is rejoicing because Talaat Pasha was the Minister Of Interior, and later the de facto Head Of The Turkish Government, who had set and overseen the execution of the policy which had made the Armenian dispensable and resulted in widespread massacres between 1915 and 1921.

It was a very peculiar trial in which the defendant said he was not guilty because ” his conscience was clear !” He said, ” I have killed a man but I am not a murderer.” He added that he saw his mother’s corpse, done in by the Turkish Government policies drawn by Talaat Pasha and his clique of Young Turks, which just stood up before him and and told him, “You know Talaat is here and yet you do not seem to be concerned. You are no longer my son.” The events in the background of that trial were very close and important to people of Armenian origin everywhere.

Soghomon Tehlirian had witnessed the 1915 massacre at his hometown, Erzinga, in Asian Turkey. Thereafter, his well – off family went through the hell of displacement and suffered much privation. At his trial, he reported that there had been a massacre in Erzinga in 1894 as well. Some 40,000 Armenians were massacred in Adana in 1909. So, they all lived in fear of a repeat. In May 1915, word had spread that all schools were to be closed and that the leaders of the Armenian community and the teachers were to be sent elsewhere in groups. In June early, the people were gathered, stripped of their money and valuables, and marched out. His parents were killed on the first day of march and the soldiers robbed them of whatever was left with them. He had no idea how many days it had gone on. They cracked open the skull of his brother, raped and killed his sister. He was left injured in the leg and a bleeding arm. He escaped and found shelter and care with an old Kurdish woman’s family, but only untill he had healed.

As a fugitive since then, Soghomon came across news of massacres elsewhere, widespread. Without a hat or shoe, he crossed the mountains into Persia and was arrested by Russian soldiers. In 1916, when the Russians captured Erzinga, he returned to his hometown, only to find that just two Armenian families had survived and both had converted to Moslem faith. Of the 20,000 people in the village, only 20 odd had lived. He dug out 4800 gold pieces the family had hidden in the home, which he found shattered and in ruins. He shifted to another town, learnt Russian language for five months and, in 1919, went to Constantinople, where he placed an advertisement for his lost family members. He moved over to Greece, then to Salonika for curing his nervous disorder, and finally to Paris.

At Constantinople, Soghomon had found out the main culprit behind the massacres, the Armenian genocide. It was Talaat Pasha who, along with Kemal and Erver, had been to sentenced to death by a court martial in the city. Kemal was found and hanged. Living in Paris, Soghomon studied French for a year, then went to Geneva before landing in Berlin, where he hired a tutor to teach him German. It was there that he saw Talaat Pasha and discovered the building in which he lived. Soghomon too moved over to a building in Charlottenburg, just across from Pasha’s residence. He was still a nervous wreck, who played mandolin, took dancing lessons and, as the indictment declared, was a student of Mechanical Engineering. One day, he saw Pasha come out of his building, with all the gruesome images of the massacre in his mind and the wrenching loss of his parents and his family members in his heart. He pulled out the loaded pistol he’d concealed with his underclothes, followed Pasha from across the street untill he came level, then crossed over and shot Talaat Pasha point blank in the head. Upon arrest, Soghomon admitted to the act of killing the killer of his parents and the Armenian people.

At the trial, one of the witnesses co-habiting the same building described Soghomon thus : The defendant lived in my building. I have only complimentary things to say about him. He was very well behaved and modest. I have no maid and, therefore, I do all the housework. The defendant always did whatever he could to make my job easier. For example, he used to polish his own shoes. In every respect, he was decent and modest. In her deposition, the landlady said — He was a kind, modest, quiet, and clean young man. He kept everything in order. On the morning of March 15th, the day the incident occurred, the maid came in to tell me that the defendant was in his room crying. A little while later, I thought I would go up to see how he was doing. I was surprised to find him sitting in his room, drinking cognac. Soghomon clarified that he a took a measure of cognac with his tea to overcome his weak physical condition.

At the same trial, one of the female survivor of the genocide spoke of the massacre in these terms : — Only the men were killed this way. When it grew somewhat dark, the gendarmes came and selected the most beautiful women and girls and kept them for themselves. A gendarme came and wanted me as his woman. Those who did not obey were pierced with bayonets and had their legs torn apart. They even crushed the pelvic bones of pregnant women, took out the fetuses and threw them away… They split open my brother’s head. My mother dropped dead upon seeing this. A Turk came toward me and wanted to take me as his woman; because I would not consent, he took my son and killed him. 

PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is all this realty true ? You are not imagining it ?

WITNESS — What I have said is the truth. In reality, it was much more horrible than it is possible for me to relate.

The complete transcript of the trial proceedings is available @ http://bit.ly/w0Al32 . There are undeniable facts on record here, on the religious and political drives that made an entire Armenian population dispensable in the eyes of the Turkish Governement ! Not much different from what the Jews meant to the Nazis during World War II.

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Such was the background to Soghomon Tehlirian’s acquittal, with news of which the film 588 Rue Paradis begins. It triggers the flashback in Pierre Zakar’s mind… that comes on the screen… the life of an Armenian family, his own, that emigrated to France. The content of that life plays out – those people, situations, events and times, when the family embarked for new lands, as it adapted to new ways and renewed itself to a settled status in French society. The genocide scenes appear in context, as an Armenian immigrant tells them about what he had witnessed during those desert marches graphically described by witnesses during the trial of Soghomon Tehlirian.

Of all the horror sequenced before us, one in particular stands out. An Armenian man begs the Turkish officer leading the march for a new pair of shoes. His shoes are in tatters and his feet are bleeding. The officer asks him to hop on his horse, promising to get for him a new pair of shoes. He takes the man to the nearest village, to a blacksmith. The blacksmith’s assistants take the man from the horse and carry him into the shop. Before long we realise, they nail the horseshoes to his bleeding feet, amid the man’s wild cries and sky-splitting screams… an instance of brutality and terror that will not go away and, if it did, would never be too far from recall.

The film is the story of Pierre Zakar’s life, of the extraordinary people about him – his devoted mother, dedicated father, and his two loving aunts. It includes tales of his survival through nightmarish schools, fatal illness, difficult career, discordant marital life, and his increasingly distant Armenian roots. Thus ponderous, Pierre rediscovers the abundant love from his past then tugging at his heart. It fills him with an immediate sense of deep loss reflecting in the quality of relationship he now has with his parents, who still live their ethnic cultural affections without the least need to hide, shed or forget. Pierre then knows that he has found his professional and social success at the expense of his cultural roots and familial ties.

There he was, Pierre Zakar aka Azad Zakarian, a handsome man grayed at the temples, deep in thought. He remembers that incident in his childhood when he was invited to a tea party. The invite was not from a friend, but from an acquaintance who was very rich. The little boy, Azad, was not very well to do and was not very clear why he was invited. On the day, his family struggles hard to make him as presentable as a prince. His mother waits outside the house while he goes in and gets humiliated before coming back to her. Never did he let her know of that mortifying shame he had experienced because of his ethnicity.

There is intense drama in the internal being of Pierre Zakar, who then regains the authentic ” Azad ” he has forgotten but had always been. It was Azad Zakarian, son of Araxi and Hagop Zakarian and fostered by aunts Anna and Gayane Zakarian, who had become the renowned writer and dramatist Pierre Zakar believed he was. His plays performed across the world.  He was married a French publisher, into the affluent elite of Parisian society. He enjoyed both wealth and fame, living a rich lavish life with his daughter and son whose second name was Zacharia. He often remembers little events from his childhood and thinks of his Armenian roots, but only in passing back to his current reality as Pierre Zakar, the famous playwright and member of acclaimed social status in mainstream French society of Paris.

But then his father comes over to meet him and is palpably distressed due to the alienation between his son and the family. He suffers a heart attack, making Azad feel accountable. As the revived Azad, Pierre reminiscences of his modest childhood, and more acutely after the death of his father. The person he was, the Azad Zakarian he had repressed, arises. He reunites with his mother, Mayrig, dedicating himself to providing her with a wonderful life. He changes his name back to Azad Zakarian. His children begin to identify themselves with their Armenian roots. His French wife leaves him. He commits more of himself to Armenian culture and fulfilling Mayrig’s dream of restoring the family to the their prior glory in Anatolia before they had fled Turkey. He buys her a place on the same street bigger than that of the ‘friend’ at whose party he was embarrassed as a child. The address of the house is 588 Rue Paradis.

The film ends with Azad Zakarian basking in the warmth and glow of his memories that will inspire his next play…


To the audience, the movie comes together with an atmosphere so warm and enveloping that it feels as if it was in our own dream – one after our very heart. There is such profusion of love and generosity in the compassionate exiles that their stark pain is apparent, even without a mention, their conflicts leave us secure, and their vicissitudes do not jarr. Their aching sadness, so exactly captured in the melancholy music that comes to fore in the background, seems sweet and full of hope. It is a story we want to hear, laugh and cry with, be happy and unhappy about. 

And thus it goes… from frame to frame, scene to scene, act to act. Untill its end wakes us up into the exclusive awareness of rare wonder the film was !

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Director Henri Verneuil was born Achod Malakian of Armenian parentage on October 15, 1920, in Rodosto, Anatolia, Turkey His family fled to France and settled in Marseilles when he was a young child. He later recounted his childhood experience in the novel Mayrig, which he dedicated to his mother and adapted it into a 1991 film with the same name. He followed it up with a sequel, 588 Rue Paradis, the following year.

Verneuil enrolled in 1943 at the Ecole Navale des Arts et Métiers at Aix-en-Provence, where he studied engineering. He then pursued a career in journalism, working as the editor-in-chief of the magazine Horizon in 1944-1946 and as a film critic for a Marseilles radio station. In 1947, he had an idea for a short film set in Marseilles and proposed it to the famous comedian Fernandel. The comic liked it, and thus began a long-lasting partnership which produced such popular film hits as Forbidden Fruit, The Sheep Has Five Legs, and The Cow and I.

Henri Verneuil is seen as one of the most important figures of French cinema. In 1996, he received an honorary Cesar Award, a French Oscar of sort, for his contribution to cinema. His most successful movie is considered to be La Vashe et le Prisonnier (1959). He worked with several famous personalities of French Cinema like Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alan Delon. In spite of his considerable success, his most cherished dream was to make a movie about the Armenian Genocide and he accomplished this with Mayrig. 

” Mayrig is the tale of the odyssey of Azad Zakarian’s ( the alter ego of the filmmaker ) family… from persecutions in Anatolia to their arrival in Marseilles, with all the difficulties by the “Middle Eastern” families meet in their attempt to integrate into the French society of that time.

” The narration is carried out through the intertwining of two parallel stories : one, of the Zakarians in the course of their integration into Marseilles society, and the other one, in flashback, of the deportations undergone by the Armenian people in Anatolia.

” The movie has gruesome scenes when it recounts the genocide, where the sadism of Turkish soldiers is portrayed, but it also has the sublime love and boundless empathy and care the Zakarian family members have for each other. The arrival of Zakarians at Marseilles is described as everything but easy : this is apparent from the scene where they discover a colony of coackroaches but decide not to kill them because, they tell each other, “At any rate, if they chose our home, it means that they don’t despise us Armenians.”

” A tender and moving film that by telling about the tiny daily reality of a family belonging to the diaspora succeeds in narrating the story of the whole Armenian people.”

Henri Verneuil died in January 2002.

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Excerpts Of An Interview With Actress, Claudia Cardinale …

How did you get a role in Mayrig ?

I did a film in Paris with Henri Verneuil in 1959 and then, many years after he asked me to do this one. The story and the movie… It was incredible. It was a very long movie: when I started my heroine was 35 years old and when I finished she was more than 80. It was also fantastic because I met Omar Sharif, whom I first met in Tunisia, when I was 15 years old.

Was it difficult for you to be in the role of an Armenian mother ?

No, I was an Armenian mother, as the film director wanted. Verneuil is a marvelous director. He tells you what to do while you have to understand him and do exactly what he wants. That’s important, especially for that kind of story. It wasn’t difficult. I was 52 years also and I played totally different roles – from princess to a courtesan. Each role is a life and I have been living a large number of lives, totally different. I like to change.

When you do a movie in front of the camera you become the other one. And live apart. The most important thing is to separate yourself and the plot, otherwise you may lose your personality. You have to change all the time and to do so you have to be very strong.

Reverting to Mayrig film again… Do you have anything to add ?

It’s difficult to remember every detail. But I do remember that it’s a marvelous story, a real story. My mother was in love with this film. She is not here anymore; she left us 10 years ago. It was often on television in Italy. And she often called me to say, “Claudia, Mayrig is showing on TV.”

It’s sad that Henri Verneuil is not here anymore. It would be fantastic to be together here this evening. I’m going to see this film tonight. It’s a long time I haven’t seen it…

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A Reviewer Writes …

” I am Armenian. Well… my father is Armenian and he was born and raised in France. He then decided to move to Quebec (Canada) to study but ended up staying here and bringing his parents. My mom is French-Canadian. I went to Armenian school and so I speak, write and read it. My grand-mother was one of the survivors of the genocide. She passed away a few months ago at the age of 98.

” What does this have to do with the movie, you ask ?

  Everything. It has everything to do.

” This movie made a lot of sense to me. Yes, the parts about the genocide were heartbreaking but I’m also speaking about the alienation the family feels after moving to France and how they try to adjust their values with the ones from this country they now live in.

” Being Armenian and French-Canadian has caused me many headaches. And though today I am very proud of both cultures, the major differences between them sometimes still leaves me in a place of no man’s land.

” And the love we feel between the family members in the movie is VERY realistic. After the genocide, it is love that saved the survivors from a life full of resentment. Sticking together and loving each other with all of their hearts and souls was the only way to move on. Not forget. We can never forget. But in order to put those dark days behind us and be happy again, we needed this love.

” The way the parents genuinely sacrifice themselves for the happiness of their son is something I am very familiar with. My father did the SAME thing for me and for my brother. Armenian parents are like that. But with this great generosity and unconditional love comes great expectations. Of how we should live our lives. About what we need in order to be truly happy. And they care SO much. They literally live and breathe through us in a way. If we succeed, they succeed. If we are happy, they are happy. If we are sick, they are sick.

” I’m not saying that if we fail, they fail. They are very supportive and as long as you do your best, they are always proud of you. And trust me when I say that we love our parents with all our hearts and are grateful for all that they did and all that they still do.

” I am so proud to be an Armenian. I am so proud of the strength of my people who not only lost everything and had to build from scratch but did it in the best possible way to give the children of tomorrow the chance to hope for something better.

” But being an Armenian gives you a responsibility. In memory of those who died but mostly, of those that survived and made it possible for YOU to be alive today. We have a responsibility to never give up on ourselves and on those who brought us into this world. And this feel of responsibility will be passed on to our children and so on. And as a child of the third generation, I find it sometimes hard to know what part of me wants what it wants because I really want it or because I know that this is what my family wants for me.

” It’s not a bad thing… but it’s a thing and at the age of 26, I’m not done trying to figure it out. So I guess this movie helped me in a way… It helped me understand myself. Understand where I come from. And where I’m going…”

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Children of Genocide survivors tell primarily historical narratives which exhibit detachment of their parents’ experiences and memories. Grandchildren of Genocide survivors tell narratives which have liturgical aspects in which their grandparents are seen as Christian martyrs. Great-grandchildren of Genocide survivors tell narratives that have acquired a mythical connotation as the stories are intertwined with family history and political aspirations regarding the Turkish government. These findings are a result of narrative analysis and comparison in which the tools of linguistics, discourse analysis, and literary analysis were used to observe pronoun utilization, narrative evaluations, repetition in discourse, and evocation of details and imagery. While certain sociologists have questioned the relevance of the past within the present with respect to persecuted people and traumatic events in history, this study illustrates how this particular event has, through time and space gained significance within the younger population of the community. The findings lend insight to the historical progression of memory through time, as well as the longevity of a diaspora community. Furthermore, this study is a testament to the emotional reverberations of genocide, and the specific role and place that oral histories occupy within education.

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The best-known novel to deal with the Armenian Genocide was written by an Austrian Jew, Franz Werfel, in 1933. The Forty Days of the Musa Dagh was translated into over twenty languages and became an international best-seller. The novel is about the siege of the mountain village of Musa Dagh, where a group of exhausted and poorly armed Armenians were able to resist a Turkish attack for forty days before being rescued by French warships. Its potential as a Hollywood epic was immediately seized upon. Yet, despite repeated attempts by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer ( MGM ) to translate this important story onto the screen, Turkish pressure on the U.S. State Department prevented the film from ever being made.

Besides some scenes dealing with the Armenian Genocide in Elia Kazan’s 1963 classic America, America, the historic event was not really touched upon again until the French-Armenian director Henri Verneuil, born Achod Malakian, the son of genocide survivors, told his autobiographical version of the event in his 1991 film Mayrig, starring Omar Sharif and Claudia Cardinale. However, even the presence of such a star – cast and substantial production budget, Mayrig failed to find international theatrical exposure. Indeed, the only other dramatic feature films that have dealt with the after effects of this trauma — Don Askarian’s Komitas and Henrik Malian’s Nahapet — have received only limited distribution despite their artistic merits.

In both these later films, the viewer is engaged by the eponymous survivors as they try to deal with the burning memories of the genocide. Nahapet ( the very name means the head of a large family group ) is seen at the beginning of the film as he crosses the border from historic Western Armenia into the fledgling Caucasian state. His memories come flooding back throughout the film, most poetically in a flashback where hundreds of red apples fall off a gigantic tree ( or family tree ) on the banks of a river, where they rot, turning the sky – blue waters bloody. Eye – witness accounts tell of thousands of bodies floating down the river Euphrates during the genocide, and Malian’s cinematic interpretation of this horror is stunning in its beauty and restraint.

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