My grandmother, Azniv Jebejian, was born on January 13th, 1911 in Kayseri, Turkey. We have an old picture of her parents that we treasure. In it, our great grandmother mother Gayaneh sports the most amazing hairstyle while our great grandfather father, Abraham, proudly adorns a moustache over his butterfly tie. This photo is the only thing that remained from our grandmother's "burzhuasian childhood".
She was four or five when the massacres occurred. They killed her father Abraham, then her mother Gayaneh, then many of her other relatives. Her Turkish neighbor hid her in his cellar. He gave her some unripe grapes and told her to stay there and not to make any noise until it was safe to come out.
She told me that in the cellar she took off a small piece of red velvet from her pocket and put the grapes on it. They stayed there the whole time in the cellar; she believed that the small sunbeam coming through the narrow cellar window would ripen the grapes. She was hungry apparently. Ever since then, my grandma always kept her pockets full of raisins and nuts.
She used to tell with sadness how they would later lie on her Turkish neighbor's roof at night and hear sounds like wolves crying. Her frightened Turkish neighbor would simply whisper, "Armenians are being slaughtered…"
My grandma eventually escaped to Greece on foot with her grandmother and aunt. She got married in Athens to my grandfather, Martiros Khachatryan, who was born in Erzurum. Many of his family members were also killed in 1915. Together, my grandma and grandpa eventually settled in Armenia in 1936, where they started a family.
In Armenia, my grandmother often listened to Ankara Radio, but my father didn't like this. This used to upset my grandmother, as she would remember the Turks she knew. She used to say, "a good Turk is better than a bad Armenian."
My grandfather was eventually killed in 1964 in Yerevan by his Armenian neighbor, after an argument for a piece of land. My grandmother sadly died in 1991 in Yerevan, aged 80.
*: The story has been provided by Ruzanna Khachatrian, the granddaughter of Azniv Jebejian. It cannot be used in part or full without prior permission of Project Common Humanity. It can be cited as: Azniv and her unripe Grapes, PCH-2008-03; www.projectcommonhumanity.com