My grandmother’s Armenian Bible is falling apart—its cardboard covers are worn, the spine is broken, the first 48 pages are missing, and until recently it was held together by a thick rubber band. When the rubber band cracked and crumbled, I tied a bright satin ribbon around it to hold it together.
The pages inside are covered in tiny Armenian letters that I can read, but barely. There are colored pen marks throughout where my grandmother underlined verses that were meaningful to her—Psalms is a riot of color—and she made some marginal notes in an Armenian script that I can’t read.
When I was cleaning my study recently, I untied the ribbon and flipped open the Bible. It had been more than a decade since I had looked at this book. Inside was a large red satin bookmark celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America. At the top of the bookmark there is a gold sketch outline of Mount Ararat and below is a poem, “I Am Armenian,” written by the Reverend Vartan Hartunian, who was the minister at the First Armenian Church in Belmont, Massachusetts from 1959 until 1998.
“I am Armenian/ I belong to an ancient race/ Whose roots are in the subsoil of history…”
I remembered having seen the bookmark in my grandmother’s hand, but when I flipped through the pages of the Bible, towards the back I found a yellowed newspaper clipping from the Watertown Press that I had never come across before. The headline read “Nancy Kricorian cited at Dartmouth,” and it was basically a pro-forma press advisory that Dartmouth College sent to a student’s hometown paper when the student did something noteworthy. My accomplishment was having received a citation—a special mention—in a creative writing class. “In citing Ms. Kricorian, her professor noted that her poetry ‘was remarkable for its clarity, its depth of feeling, and the evocative precision of her language.’”
My grandmother had glued the clipping to a small mailing envelope and printed across the top in Armenian, “Written about Nancy.”
January 2, 2014