In memoriam for the departed souls
a moving and powerful story of the Armenian genocide
It was an ordinary weekday at the Ararat-Eskijian Museum, when I received a phone call from Alice Farmanian, a Glendale resident who was looking for a permanent home for “Dikranoui”. At first, I thought she needed to contact the nursing home or the assisted living. As I was trying to transfer her call, she said she needed the Museum, not the Ararat Home. She was 92 years old and wanted to donate some of her family heirlooms, which were from Keghi.
On the designated date, I met Mrs. Farmanian. She had brought the items she wanted to donate, including a silver box inscribed “Dikranoui” on the lid. I was expecting a piece of jewelry, but instead I was full of emotions when I saw a lock of braided hair with a red ribbon. I soon realized that there was a story to go along with it.
Mrs. Farmanian told me the history of her family starting with her grandparents, who were from Keghi (a district in Garin/Erzurum, modern- day Turkey). Alice’s grandparents (whose names are unknown) had four children: Dikranoui, Parantsem (Alice’s Mother), Satenig and baby Postoian (also name unknown). Mr. Postoian worked as an accountant for a wealthy Turkish businessman in Istanbul.
One day, the Turkish businessman informed Mr. Postoian to bring his family to Istanbul for safekeeping to avoid the deportation. However, Mrs. Postoian ignored her husband’s plea and decided to stay with her family in Keghi. Unfortunately, this ended with the family on the deportation route to Ras ul-Ayn. Young Dikranoui, who was seven years old, died along the way of starvation. Mrs. Postoian, unable to hold her grief cut Dikranoui’s two braids of hair. She placed one braid into Parantsem’s pocket and one braid into Satenig’s pocket and asked them to find a “home” for their sister, Dikranoui. Rather than surrender to the Turks, Mrs. Postoian left her two daughters in the care of relatives. She then took her young child into her arms as they walked into a river to be with Dikranoui, eternally.
The only survivors during the Armenian genocide were Parantsem, her sister Satenig, and their father.
Eventually, the sisters were reunited with their father in Istanbul and made it to the United States. Here Parantsem Postoian married and had a child named Alice (Farmanian).
Both Alice and I were in tears as she was sharing her family story. She said that now she had some serious health challenges and before her transition to the Lord she needed to find a home for Dikranoui. I was shaken and speechless. I took the box and the remaining heirlooms and brought them to the Museum: Dikranoui had reached her final resting place.
Mrs. Farmanian visited the museum few times with her son to ensure that her heirloom was safe and her story was shared. After hearing the story, I asked Alice why there was only one braid in the box instead of two? She informed that though there were originally two braids, her mother, who always kept them in her pockets to remember, eventually lost the second braid. To keep from losing Dikranoui, Alice had a silver box made to keep the memory of her aunt alive.