Senior Counsel: If 86 Year-Old Siranoush Were President of Armenia Grisha Balasanyan
86 year-old Siranoush Avetisyan believes that work is the secret to staying young and healthy.
A resident of the Arevshat Village in Armenia’s Armavir Province, Siranoush’s active lifestyle is the envy of others much younger than she.
Upon entering her house, Siranoush jumps to her feet and invites us inside. When relatives tell her who we are, the woman beams and starts to telling us who she spends her days.
Up at 6 every day with the crowing of the roosters, Siranoush first goes to the barn to pet and talk to a calf names Tzaghik. If the weather’s nice, she’ll then head to the garden to pull weeds and till the soil.
“We’re a family of workers who don’t complain. We have milk, yoghourt and everything. Praise be to God. If I didn’t work, I’d die. I love to work. What’s happened to me to keep me from working,” Siranoush says, and leads us to the barn to introduce us to Tzaghik.
“They wanted to slaughter the cow, but I wouldn’t let them. I had a feeling that she was pregnant. The cow gave birth to my wonderful Tzaghik. I tell the animal this story and she listens to me with wide attentive eyes,” Siranoush says.
Siranoush makes a point to tell us that work isn’t her only pastime and that she faithfully follows the news, especially international events.
“I know the names of all the presidents and capitals of all the countries. Events taking place around the world interest me. How can one not following what’s happening abroad,” she asks.
What troubles Siranoush is the fact that she hasn’t learnt enough about the mandatory pension system that’s become a hotly debated topic in Armenia. On a personal note she complains that monies she deposited in the banks decades ago during the Soviet period are as good as lost.
“They still haven’t given me that money. Back then I saved it for my old age. I worked all my life,” Siranoush says.
From this issue it was a short segue to the socio-economic situation in Armenia.
When we asked what she would do if she were the president, Siranoush mulled the question over for a few seconds and responded that job creation would be her first objective.
“I would look for a way to improve the lot of the people. I’d create jobs to keep people from leaving. Then, I’d lower the natural gas and electricity rates. You can’t imagine how it pains me to see people leaving Armenia for foreign shores. But I understand why some do. They can’t make a living here. They have nothing to eat and leave in despair. Our president must do something to alleviate this so that people don’t leave this sweet land.”
Siranoush says that her family went through some tough times when she was young.
“My mother was forced to sew so many patches on our clothes that they didn’t look anything like the original. My brother graduated the agricultural institute wearing just one pair of pants and a shirt. We went to bed hungry. But we were happy through it all. We studied and respected our teachers. We were modest, not like the kids of today.”
Then, in mid sentence, Siranoush changes the topic.
“My boy, are you married?”
I answer, “No, not yet.”
“Don’t worry,” Siranoush exclaims, “I’ll find you a very good girl.”