My grandfather was a novelist in the Western Armenian language and he used to be named Hagop Kufedjian. When he fled the Young Turk fascist after WWI and settled in the Middle East, he changed his name to Hagop Oshagan. In the village of Oshagan, in Armenia, is buried Mesrob Mashdots—the man who singled-handedly invented the Armenian alphabet over 1600 years ago. In one simple stroke, my grandfather re-invented his identity, tied it inextricably to the land of his forefathers and to the very source of all that he was—language.
A literal, literary, familial and symbolic rebirth. A transcendental moment in a life.
My father, a poet, is Vahe Oshagan. I am Ara Oshagan. Oshagan is our family name—we own it and it comes with a literary legacy. For three generations now, we have lived in the sprawling and global Armenian diaspora. In cities like Jerusalem, Beirut, Paris, New York, Los Angeles. Our identities always evolving, a constant question. We have never returned to live in Western or present-day Armenia.
I traveled to the village of Oshagan, Armenia, in the fall of 2012. To see and touch. To feel its earth under my feet. To look for what I certainly would not find there.