A thing that reminds me of a lost country
“1936. Sister Knara, brother Lyova, and me, little Raphael.” This is my grandfather's adult handwriting, which makes the note “little Raphael” especially heartwarming — as if he was looking through a magnifying glass at a bug-like version of himself.
This matchbox-sized photo probably symbolizes a big hole in my grandfather’s family — their deportation from Armenia to Southern Russia in a wagon with cattle. Looking at this photo, I wonder where it was taken — the year and the people are indicated, but the location is missing. I try to fill in the gap as best I can and cling to the clues: the lush gardens and the Armenian tuff towers behind them are a simulacrum, a decoration to make an everyday photo look more exotic. I think that this picture was taken in Russia, and my little grandfather, the youngest in the family, had no idea that the landscape behind him, the way he knew it, was hopelessly lost, and he would not see home for half a century.