Again I heard that expression from an exhausted Armenian woman who fed up with that mess finally bellowed: “Тhis sink is cursed, the more I wash dirty plates and dishes, the more they pile up”. I calmed her down saying that not she alone is cursed but almost all Armenian women (not including first ladies though). Of course my consolation wouldn’t make her feel at ease as her hands were also reddened because of the cold water. May be they wouldn’t have such an aversion to the matter if there had all the accommodations regarding hot water, running water, and existence of water in general.
Some days ago in some Russian community there were some problems with providing the citizens with hot water, and they were protesting and rebelling: “How can that be? We didn’t have hot water during the whole day. Can you imagine?”
Oooh yes, if not Russians or people from other nationalities, an Armenian can imagine it for 100%, no, better for 200%. And at that very moment he will remember the so called “moot tariner” (dark years), which were followed after the collapse of the USSR. I was a 7 year girl then , but my recollections are so distinct as if it was yesterday.
There was no electricity, no water, no food. The winter seemed not to end anymore and everything was so bleak. In our block, a few people had installed furnaces, no, the others also had, just they were packed in their lumber-rooms, as they didn’t have wood to burn. Every morning on my way to school, which was about a kilometer away from my house, I was gathering broken wet branches of the trees, then hiding them somewhere out of eyesight. On my back way, I was doing the same, thus coming home with some amount of wood. As we didn’t have much water to drink, my brother and I were taking the saucepans and rushing into the yard in search of snow, which wouldn’t be trampled down. The snow was melting on the furnace and later we were using it for washing the dishes. We were one of those luckies who had “levi luys” (electricity gained illegally, for only one lamp and TV, which was for two hours) and every time it was turned on, everyone were giving exultant shouts, especially olders who were craving to watch their favorite soap-operas. All our neighbors were gathering at our place, around the furnace and talking about different things (although there were not many topics for conversation then) and telling interesting stories. And then they were leaving their warm places unwillingly, knowing that the cool bed was waiting for them. My mother, father, brothers, grandmother and me were sleeping in the same sofa, thus we could warm each other and don’t get cold. And the years seemed to pass so slowly…
They didn’t have hot water for a day… Huh… It’s even funny…
Now remembering that years I shiver and dare to say that those who remained and survived are heroes. And mainly women who had to bear the brunt of housekeeping, keeping the fire burning, solving food problems so on and so forth.
Even now there are houses, especially buildings, which have water provision for 1 hour (my uncle’s), maximum 2 hours (my friend’s), minimum 15 minutes (another relative’s). Now imagine an Armenian woman managing to do all the domestic chores in 10 minutes. It’s-washing the dirty dishes, filling the bath tube, buckets and many battles with water, laundry, taking shower ( if they manage, if not, there’s the traditional way of it, “ltsovi”, when they boil water, then take shower with a mug. And then we wonder why some Armenians really stink). And Armenian men don’t care with giving a helpful hand, or at least not soiling around, because if his friends learn about it they’ll deride him calling “kgzik”.
And yet, this is the reality and one cannot escape from it.
Probably now I must thank my father that this year he installed a gas copper and while washing the dishes which are unlimited, I don’t freeze my hands and kind of do it with pleasure.