Nana Petrosyan

April 24, 2010

The name given her by the parents and godfather - Haykanush - had
been forgotten. Over 70 years out of 95 she was known as Lesko.

This photograph taken in Yerevan in 1926 tells the story of an Armenian
family from Van villayet of the Ottoman Empire. Aram O.

Manukyan (in the center), Haykanush (left to him), Mariam (right to
him), their daughters Arshaluys and Mayranush... Three years later,
third daughter Siranush was born.

The name given her by the parents and godfather - Haykanush - had
been forgotten. Over 70 years out of 95 she was known as Lesko.

"My mother Lesko was a woman deprived of homeland and relatives. To
preserve the memory about her native village of Lesko, she took the
name for herself," says Lesko's 81-year-old daughter Siranush Manukyan,
who has one father and two beloved mothers...

With the other soldiers under the command of Andranik, Aram Manukyan
could not rescue his wife Haykanush and sister Aghavni from the Turkish
captivity, where they spent 7 years. Deprived of the creatures he
loved and having no possibility to fight for freedom, Aram married
Mariam from the village of Avrak. These two people, fettered by an
indelible pain, tried to find consolation in their own children. But
time passed, bringing back Aghavni and Haykanush, who already called
herself Lesko...

"Having found his sister and former wife, Aram did not hesitate
for a minute to bring them home. The pain that befell the Armenian
people made my mother Mariam accept her husband's former wife and
live in peace with her," Siranush recollects. "My mother's life was
interrupted by the birth of my brother, who also died. I was told
this story when I was 26 and started my own family. I enjoyed the
motherly love of Lesko, who cherished my children. My parents tried
to protect me from the pain they had in their hearts..."

As refugees from three villages of Van villayet, Aram, Mariam and
Lesko lived a worthy life, bringing up the children. They lived a
long life but did not reach the most important event in their life -
recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey.

"My father died in 1957 at the age of 75. Dying, he told my mother
Lesko: "I leave 20 years of my life for you to see the happiness of
our children and the punishment that our enemies will suffer..."

"Now, I am 81, a mother of four children, a grandmother, but I carry
my parents' pain in my heart and I realize that I'm waiting for the
same what my parents were waiting for - justice. God bless their
memory and souls of millions, who were slaughtered. I am just scared
that my children will spend their life waiting, like we did. God
forbid!" Siranush Manukyan concluded her story, wiping tears from
her eyes...