Monday, January 11, 2021

Nora Nadjarian: Letters to Parajanov

In the Armenian folk song Groung (Crane) the singer calls out to the 
migratory bird, begging for word from the homeland. 


Whisper, Parajanov, that colour from long ago. The alphabet melted when

my mother in church said: for each a candle. We learned to smell that wax,

it was tears. My father stabbed the sky ten times and fled. A bird became a decade

and then a century and we slept in another country, it was the crane.


The story starts off a delicate girl, climbs stubborn mountains. The secret of the ark,

a magician gave me thirty-eight letters to write: My name is – I come from – We speak –

and other phrases repeated on loop. The long climb of not forgetting, Parajanov,

open and close my mouth, give me the pride of a nation to swallow. It hurts like love.


We grew up, our eyes that beautiful black, our silences multilingual, and that glue,

Parajanov, which fixed us and sealed our lips, peeled. Years later, the lyrics returned,

the crane. Did you bring news? I asked. The question was burning my throat,

that absence. Where is the place where language lives? Did you bring news?

Nora Nadjarian

First published on Lucy Writers (Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge) in the series Life in Languages,
edited by Elodie Rose Barnes. (August 2020) 

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