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The Literary Groong - 08/13/2011

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Meetings with Carla Vanamo #2

By Ani Boghossian

So one day, as me and the wonderful Miss Carla Vanamo were walking
through Central Park on a promising humid still day, I swallowed my
doubts and asked her with caution.

-Have you ever been married?

The feather on Carla's fedora hat flicked back and forth ever so
politely, as she passed through and greeted the New York air. Her gaze
looking straight on, a strict smirk and the world's best dark
eyebrows. And that long tan coat damped with a scent of great wonder
ruffled the edges of her world. Every step of her clicking male shoes
said I know and I-don't-give-a-damn.

-Oh honey, she said both evenly I-knew-it and yet was still surprised.

You could always tell from the way she started her phrases the leaning
her words would take, yet you could never guess even slightly what she
would drive towards ad conclude with in the end.

-My husband never existed in this universe. So I never went searching
for him.

-How did you know he never existed?

-I checked, she said then put her hand in her large pocket and pulled
out a box.

-Let's sit down, she said gesturing towards a lovely empty bench as we
were passing by it. I sat down and looked around at the greenness that
was alive. Carla sat down and opened the box. Inside it was a
pipe. This lady never seized to surprise me.

-So, you smoke?, I asked

-Only flowers, she smiled and got a small bag of dried colorful
petals. She took a pinch and put it inside her pipe. Then lit a match
and there it was... a flower garden was burning. She froze for a
second then blew out a long thin line of lavenders and poppies.

-Actually Ani, I knew this woman once. An amazingly charming
thing. She had a husband. A quirky writer. A good one though. Never
read one book by him, anyway... He loved her of course. But this
woman... she loved what he was with even the smallest particle of her
being. She did not expect him to love her back the same way. What she
expected was that she'd be able to inspire him, be his muse. For her,
it was the truest meaning of her existence. To serve for his art. To
exist for his art.... Years passed and all he wrote about were
chess-players and gnomes. So she killed herself.

I just sat there, my hands on my lap, the trees eloquently still but
always plotting to grow, the sky wrapping ropes around the space
around us, and a runner every now and then passing by and snorting and
creaking, by and by.

So I asked another stupid question.

-So you never really loved?

She grinned with an ancient warmness of a mother.

-I loved and love every day.

-I mean a man, I fought, to get some specific answer out of her.

-A man. Of course. I loved Bach, I loved Monet, I love Babadjanian, I
love Dostoevsky for goodness sake...

I sighed, and I just had to laugh.

-What I meant was...

-Ani, she said with a smile. A reassurance.

I never asked her those kind of questions again.

We were silent for a time. I didn't count how long. Then she said
suddenly with wonder and excitement, staring at something I couldn't

-Ani, I was in Yerevan back in nineteen ninety-something. You were a
little tyke, you won't remember. But I first met you then. Poverty
was thick all around us. But, my God, I loved that place. Your dad
was holding your little hand and we three were walking as he was
telling me the names of the streets. We were passing Abovyan at that
moment. A cobbled marvelous street.

`Not cobbled nor marvelous any more', I thought.

..And your father told me about the writer Khatchadour Abovyan. The
creator of secular, worldly or common and not classical Armenian
literature. And how he went missing, supposedly to climb Mount
Ararat. And how people still don't know where he is buried. And the
idea that people named a street after him not knowing where he is -
For God knows, he might have run away to some other country or
something - that seamed so wonderfully new to me. I loved that. It's
like you Armenians created a place where he is always present, even if
only with a name. You created an artificial grave.

She looked at me when she finished.

I smiled back. And did not tell her that Armenians loved graves and
the meaning of them. And how we turn graves into art. Like the cross
stones.I kind of loved that too and was at the same time worried just
how I will make my Armenian family not put me in a grave when I die
but throw me to the wind in powdered pieces. Let me be free from the
heaviness of the wonderful Armenian art of gravestones.

I think Carla read my thoughts then because she said.

-The wind is nice, isn't it? Let's go get some decent Jewish coffee.

-Jewish? Not Guatemalan?

-No, not Guatemalan. Guatemalan coffee is nice, Jewish coffee
stinks. But I love that Jewish coffee place and those Jewish fellows
all serious, sitting around, complaining.

We got up.

-Oh look... Kookaburras, she pointed to a row of funny curious birds
on a branch.

Ani Boghossian was born in Echmiadzin back in cold, dark 1989. She
still lives in Echmiadzin, yet went to school in Yerevan ("Aghasi
Ayvazyan" Varjaran). She studied International Relations at Yerevan
State University and currently works at the Armenian Assembly of
America and also at the Foundation of Preservation of Wildlife and
Cultural Assets. Ani translated David Phillips' book "Unsilencing the
Past" into Armenian. She maintains a blog:
She writes in English and in Armenian and draws and paints as well.

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