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Antonina Mahari: "If I am not worthy of respect for who I am, then


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#1 Yervant1

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 11:09 AM

Antonina Mahari: "If I am not worthy of respect for who I am, then
turn your gaze away"
Sona Avagyan

http://hetq.am/eng/a...-gaze-away.html
12:30, December 21, 2012

The widow of writer Gurgen Mahari survives on 30,000 AMD per month

Antonina Mahari paces back and forth in the freezing apartment. She's
bundled up in as many layers of clothes as possible.

Even inside, she wears gloves and a hat. The average temperature of
the well-maintained apartment, left untouched since the death of her
husband Gurgen Mahari in 1969, is around zero centigrade.

`When it gets really cold, I switch on a heater in the bedroom. I
probably turn it on after New Years,' says Mrs. Antonina. She
sometimes sleeps in a neighbor's apartment to stay warm.

The curtains are now shredded and threadbare from wear. They, like
most of the furnishings in the apartment, have remained untouched
since her famous husband passed away all those years ago.

`Do you see what terrible doors I have? But they are holy and
legendary doors for me. Your classical figures have knocked on these
doors to come and visit Gurgen Mahari. The great writer himself
knocked on these doors. I was always waiting for him. I do not want
doors of gold,' says Mrs. Antonina.

Antonina Mahari, a Lithuanian by birth, survives on 30,000 AMD ($74)
per month. She receives a monthly pension of 15,000 and a welfare
allowance in the same amount since she lives way below the official
poverty line.

Right now, she pays 3,000 AMD in monthly utility bills. When she turns
on the electric heater, the electric bill will more than triple.

Despite her own very limited means, Mrs. Antonina says there are
people in much more dire straits than her. `One must have a
conscience. Sometimes, when I can afford to, I'll give them 1,000 AMD
to tide them over. I'd be embarrassed to go and apply for assistance
when there are others around worse off than me,' she says.

No one from the Lithuanian Embassy in Armenia or from Armenia's
Ministry of Culture has come to visit her. Nevertheless, Mrs. Antonia
is happy that the ministry placed an order for the publication of her
book.

After the death of her husband, she wanted to keep his spirit alive.
She's transformed the living room into a kind of mini-museum with
photos, books and other memorabilia.

`I wanted to keep his memory alive. Those who visit say that it's as
if Gurgen is here in this apartment and that he'll walk through the
door at any moment. His old pals were really impressed,' she said.

The two met in a Siberian prison camp

Antonina Mahari (née Povilaytinen), then a student at the Law Faculty,
and Gurgen Mahari (Ajemian), first met in Siberia.

`I was very young when they arrested me. What followed was ten years
in jail. I had turned 29 by the time I was released. I was arrested
for belonging to an underground students' group called Freedom for
Lithuania. What was wrong with a bunch of students wanting freedom for
Lithuania? The Soviet authorities persecuted us and wanted to erase
the Baltic States. There was a great Armenian painter there as well,
Ashot Sanamyan. He had been arrested for membership in the Independent
Armenia secret organization and spent twenty years in prison. I have
written about him too,' says Antonina Mahari.

Gurgen Mahari had been arrested and charged for belonging to a
`terrorist' organization that was plotting to kill Lavrentii Beria,
Stalin's notorious police chief. His wife says that Mahari didn't even
have it in him to hold a rifle.

`When we met, he was tending a flock of pigs. He later became
seriously ill. Even the doctors had given up hope. They had
transferred him to a hospice to die. Mahari sent me a note to come to
his bedside. I went and did whatever I could to take care of him. He
would say, `Let me just spend one year with you, just one year'. I
wished for the same, but we wound up spending sixteen years together.
He was still young when he died,' Antonina Mahari said.

She spent ten years in Siberia and Gurgen Mahari survived for
seventeen. They were released together. They married in Siberia and
then moved to Armenia.

`You are under the heel of the Russians'

Mrs. Antonina hasn't been back to her native Lithuania ever since
Armenia regained its independence. The travel costs have skyrocketed
and she now needs special documents and an invitation.

`I love Armenia and don't want anything bad to happen here,' she says,
adding that there is kindness and sincerity in the people here, just
like in her neighbors.

But she abhors the jealousy and hatred towards most everything that
people in Armenia exhibit.

Mrs. Antonina also feels sad that Armenia still retains cultural
influences from Russia.

In the rest of the world, people greet each other as Mr. or Mrs., but
here in Armenia they address her as `Antonina Mikhaylovich'. This
infuriates her.

`Why do they use this Russian expression here in Armenia? I want to
locate the Armenian `me'', she exclaims.

Antonina is also surprised that guests used to come and ask for
Russian books since they couldn't properly read Armenian. She says
that she and her husband were against parents sending their kids to
Russian and not Armenian schools. Even after the fall of the Soviet
Union, some Armenians still prefer Russian schools.

`I am not in favor of this. You are under the heel of the Russians.
How did the Russians help you when they were killing Armenians in
Baku? You have no friends. Stay strong. I want your Armenian essence
to soar,' says Antonina Mahari.

Steeled by the trials and tribulations of her life, Antonina is
insulted when people only respect her as the wife of Gurgen Mahari.

`If I am not worthy of respect for who I am, then don't respect me.
Turn your gaze from me. And they do just that, by the way,' she says.

Antonina says she won't be buying anything for New Years and will
welcome in 2013 at home by herself.

At our conversation came to a close she added, `We celebrate the New
Year because we have made it through alive. Many couldn't wait and
left while still young. Thus, we give thanks to God and may He bless
the year to come.'

P.S. - Hetq first wrote about the plight of Antonina Mahari in a March
2010 article entitled `Antonina Mahari: `Like iron, I have been forged
in the cauldron of many storms'

#2 Arpa

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 02:20 PM

Thank you Yervant for the article. I had seen that very disturbing and frustrating article at HETQ a few days ago and prepared the following commentary. But I was too ashamed and had decided to not air it. Here is an abbreviated version.
=====
ANTONINA Mrs. Mahari/Ajemian?
A very sad story.
As if the life and death of Gurgen was not sad enough.
Don’t mind me, as always once again -Yes jour em tsetsum- I am beating water-.
http://hetq.am/static/news/b/2012/12/21743.jpg
Posted Image
http://hetq.am/eng/articles/21743/antonina-mahari-if-i-am-not-worthy-of-respect-for-who-i-am-then-turn-your-gaze-away.html
See also the Armenian version;
http://hetq.am/arm/articles/21743/antonina-mahari-if-i-am-not-worthy-of-respect-for-who-i-am-then-turn-your-gaze-away.html
The myth of that legendary Armenian Hospitality?
Can you spell xenophobia/otaratum?
We have spoken about the subject at length. Search (hospitality) and see.
She has lived in Armenia as a citizen, yet…she is still viewed as a foreigner.

In the rest of the world, people greet each other as Mr. or Mrs., but here in Armenia they address her as “Antonina Mikhaylovna”. This infuriates her.
----
Steeled by the trials and tribulations of her life, Antonina is insulted when people only respect her as the wife of Gurgen Mahari.

----
I am sure she speaks better Armenian than many of our so called armenologists.

Antonina is also surprised that guests used to come and ask for Russian books since they couldn’t properly read Armenian. She says that she and her husband were against parents sending their kids to Russian and not Armenian schools. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, some Armenians still prefer Russian schools.

====
PS. Dear Yervant please don’t hold your hopes very high. I expect very little, if any responses to this subject.

Edited by Arpa, 23 December 2012 - 02:26 PM.


#3 MosJan

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 06:05 PM

tsavali nyut e.. qani oaraj yes el tesa,.... asetcy Ashot@ yerevi dni' Ashort Sinamyan mer Ashoti papikn e yeghel

#4 Nané

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 10:42 AM

PS. Dear Yervant please don’t hold your hopes very high. I expect very little, if any responses to this subject.


Arpa, what response can one expect to such a shameful account? Please don't think that just because we don't "ts-ts-ts" or shake our heads, we don't read these topics and clench our teeth. But what is there to respond? We would only be stating the obvious.

#5 Arpa

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 11:29 AM

Very good point Nane.
This blows away the fable of the Legendary Armenian Hospitality.
Remember thr old adage - Fish and guests begin to smell after three days.
Did Armenians formulate that saying?

#6 Nané

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 10:51 AM

Very good point Nane.
This blows away the fable of the Legendary Armenian Hospitality.
Remember thr old adage - Fish and guests begin to smell after three days.
Did Armenians formulate that saying?


Arpa - the way I see it - in this case the matter on hand is not the proper treatment of guests or foreigners. The white elephant in the room is the bold mistreatment or rather the marginalization of those (artists, thinkers, writers, etc) who have enriched our culture and history, who have given us a reason to hold our heads up high ... The same goes for their spouses, parents and children. I consider it the moral duty of our government to ensure these individuals are protected and cared for and the works left behind are properly maintained. Am I dreaming? Probably ... How many of our Greats have their museums? And time is working against us.

#7 Arpa

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 04:36 PM

Read the rest here by Eddie Arnavoudian;
http://www.groong.or...c-20040714.html
Is this the reason why Antonina is despised even today?
See paragraph 2.where we see the public burning of the book- The Burning Orchards- and that his wife lives in abject poverty even now The article by Eddie was written in 2004.

Mahari's last major work, one he regarded as his masterpiece and on
which he had laboured since the 1930s was treated as outrageous
blasphemy. Mahari was charged with grievously misrepresenting the
Armenian resistance, of dishonouring the revolutionary movement that
led it and of slandering its best representatives. So 'The Burning
Orchards' was burnt in public and its author subjected to death
threats. Intense hostility forced a dispirited and ill Mahari to
radically rewrite the novel for its second edition. His critics
however were not to be satisfied and long after his death they
continue to wreak revenge on one of Armenia's most talented poets and
novelists, a man of sturdy principle and enormous compassion who
survived both the Armenian Genocide and Stalin's labour camps. Today
Mahari's wife is abandoned, living isolated and in abject poverty in a
cold Yerevan apartment.



#8 Nané

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 10:01 AM

Read the rest here by Eddie Arnavoudian;
http://www.groong.or...c-20040714.html
Is this the reason why Antonina is despised even today?
See paragraph 2.where we see the public burning of the book- The Burning Orchards- and that his wife lives in abject poverty even now The article by Eddie was written in 2004.


I don't think so ... most people probably don't even know about "The Burning Orchards" or the ordeals the book has faced.

#9 MosJan

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 03:15 PM

amen inch shat aveli parz e .. ughaki menq kortsrel enq mer karektselu @endunakutyun@, srtatsav chenq
Arden moratsel enq hyur @endunel@, poghostsum barevel@, metsin hargel@, janaparh tal@ tegh zijela, Azgi heros@ da aveli tsatsr e qan harevan Oligarx@ ov jeep uni....
Bazmazavak Mayr@ aveli qich harganq uni qan mi xaghkatak ov iysor inchvor meki hajuyqi hamar syuperstar a dartsel.. Haykakan ShowBozznesi p@lplan Ast@gh...

tarets / Toshakarun Hasarakutyan mej tegh chni .. Harganq....
poxaren@ "munnatikneri" azg enq darnum gnalov.. Tsurviz.. mez kotoretsin... Mez Xapetsin... menq Arajin... mezz nayeq.... $$$$$ tveq menq ....
menq mer yerazanqneri azg@ chenq..

#10 Yervant1

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Posted 13 January 2016 - 11:14 AM

UNITE, OR ELSE FLEE TO DIFFERENT COUNTRIES: ANTONINA MAHARI'S WILL TO ARMENIANS (VIDEO)

19:09 | January 12,2016 | Social

92-year-old Antonina Mahari rarely leaves her house; it is clear
with the naked eye that there is nothing good outside, "Diseases,
people are dying. Is there anything good?"

She will not say the same about herself; the conditions of the house,
of course, aren't good, unheated room, damaged parquet. The cold,
of course, hinders writing and reading, but is that a problem? "If my
neighbor is unwell, I am also unwell. My neighbors are ill. I cannot
think only about myself."

Until 1969 Mrs. Antonina lived with great Armenian writer Gurgen
Mahari in this house, "He was a wretched man, that's why I loved him.

A wretched man."

All the walls of the room tell about the episodes of the writer's
life. In one photo he is with Charents, in another one- with Martiros
Saryan, the greeting text received from Serzh Sargsyan two years ago
is among these memories.

The faith in victory of good in this cold room has become a writing
about the worst days, "It was a completely different love, spiritual,
I wanted to save him, to take out from the grave, but he was dying. It
was something different, incomprehensible to you."

There is history of last days of Mahari in these sheets of paper. Mrs.

Antonina again demands to read aloud. It is impossible to refuse,
in the text the dying Gurgen Mahari is presented as a beloved son,
"All this painful way, my beloved son is gone, the last person among
my loved ones left."

Conclusion of this memory is love confession to Armenians, and also
an exhortation, almost a will with a pen of a Lithuanian woman- unite,
or else flee to different countries.


What could this woman do? Life together with a genius is an absolute
sacrifice; after all that she doesn't long for compassion, "All
the geniuses are crazy. You don't know, writers are mad, they are
helpless."

By the way, even today the door of the flat says that Gurgen Mahari
lives inside it.

https://www.youtube....h?v=xVCHrCcXnfQ

http://en.a1plus.am/1226636.html






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