I imagine life would have been much different for me had my last name ended with -ian. I’d have come from a very different place than the one I currently come from. I would have spoken yet another language. I would have grown up listening to stories that morphed into darker and darker territory as I grew older: stories told by my grandparents, stories of my friend’s great grandparents, stories of entire families and homes and communities and towns and cities that exist no more today.
If I were Armenian, I’d have been an immensely proud person of those people who are the reason I am here today, the people who defied the cold, the heat, the hunger and the systematic killing at the hand of a ruthless sultan, the people whose stories would give me strength, enriching my view of the world, making it more and more certain each day that this is not – as many want everyone to believe – a just world.
If I were Armenian, I’d carry around a baggage of horrors around with me of things that happened to my ancestors, things few dare to speak of because of how ruthless they are. I’d never let go of those horrors, clinging to them even more when the hands of time try to take them away. Those horrors would have made me who I am.
If I was Armenian, I’d be mad as hell today that the death of 1.5 million ancestors of mine is – to some countries – nothing more than a political pawn for them to play with, for them to have a political auction with, for them to try to forget, for them to try to make me forget. for them to try to take down historical memory lane: never written, never discussed, never acknowledged, never recognized.
If I were Armenian, I’d be livid that the memory of 1.5 million of my countrymen, all martyrs because of their ethnicity and their religion, is being tarnished by some who want to portray it as nothing more but a collectively inserted piece of fiction in the memory of a far-away nation I’d still feel belonging to, a nation that is still hurting 98 years later.
If I were Armenian, I’d still be hurting today and I’d hurt everyday people across communities do not recognize my people’s struggles the way they are eager to recognize the struggles of others, just because it soothes their guilt. I’d be angry no one feels remorse and guilt for the cold-blooded murder of my people, one by one – women and children and elderly and men.
But I am not Armenian. I am but an irrelevant Lebanese with a voice that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But I feel it’s my duty to tell whoever listens that there is a people of this world who was systematically killed for just existing and whose killing isn’t recognized by everyone the way other genocides are. I’d tell that a country that plays with my country like a yo-yo killed those people and has been trying to convince its own people for 98 years now nothing wrong happened. And I would never forget and – until everyone acknowledges what happened – I wouldn’t forgive.
May all the martyrs and innocent souls of the Armenian Genocide rest in peace.