Monday, May 01, 2006

Thoughts on visiting Armenia, before my first trip in 2004

My favorite word in Armenian has no English equivalent: “ser”. Literally, it does mean “love”, but this is just the book-definition. The beauty of really knowing a language is that you become familiar with the flavors of words, understand their secondary meanings, you learn that when something is expressed in a certain way in can mean something else

My grandmother always used the word “ser” with a very specific intonation and inflection, particularly in reference to Armenia. I remember her eyes even changing to a specific gaze when she said the word; her eyebrows would raise and her head would slightly nod forward, as if in urgency; as if a physical impulse was necessary when speaking that word, because it was so much more powerful than just a word- it was a feeling, a full experience. A challenge- as if only if you were ready for the responsibility, the burden, and the strength it takes, could you really utter that word and the whole meaning of it.

Perhaps this word is so deep in Armenia, because the emotion is so deep in Armenians. Perhaps my grandmother had it right- it is somewhat of a menacing word, a challenge. It’s not to be thrown around lightly- because the Armenian cause is not a matter to be taken lightly. We are a people of perseverance and strength. That strength comes from our passion derived from out devotion and our sense of pride and duty. That love is a love of a people, a culture, a land. It is my love.

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