Church of St Sarkis in Bab Sharqi – Damascus, Syria
January 26th marks the Armenian holiday of Surp Sarkis, “the patron saint of the youth and the mediator of love for young Armenians. Catholicos of All Armenians announced this day as the youth blessing day. The symbol of the holiday is the life and devotion of Commander Sargis to God.”
“According to the tradition, the young people eat salty cookies in the evening of the eve of the holiday and should not drink water after in order to see their future wife or husband in the dream who will serve them a glass of water. There’s also a tradition to put a tray with flour in the balcony or on the roof of the house waiting for Saint Sargis to come on his white horse and leave the trace of horse-shoe. According to the legend Saint Sargis should pass with his angels, and the dream of the person on whose tray he will leave the trace of the horse-shoe, will come true in the same year. The clergyman though said that the church does not bless the salty cookies and does not accept it, but people continue following this tradition. Rev. Artenyan said Armenian Christians are to celebrate this holiday in church, by attending the liturgy and praying.”
Of course, I did not do any of this shit. I stayed home. My mother fed me some buregs that used to be my dad’s favorite. And I tried to forget the memory of my father, Sarkis.
I tried to forget the pain I internalized when he died, and let go of the questions of what life would be like now if he would still be here, in my home, guiding me where I should have gone, making me laugh, feel secure, and complete. I tried to forget my mother’s alcoholism and interpret that as a sign of celebration rather than depression and loss. Have we lost more in these past seven years than we’ve gained?
Indeed, my father, Sarkis, is a saint now. I never see him in my dreams, while my sister claims to do so roughly each week. I hope he’s kickin’ it with God, drinking some surj, and laughing about the foolish mistakes I’ve made. I hope he cries and fills with pride on the sight of how much I have grown without him. He’s become a myth now, not real. I forgot what my life was like when he was here yet I remember the pain and guilt. But I will grow, as I have, and I will rise every day like the sun. I love you, dad.