Tekeyan, in Search of God

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By Kevork Keushkerian

GLENDALE, Calif. — Poet Jaque Hagopian’s book presentation, Tekeyan, In Search of God, took place on Sunday, September 13, at the Glendale Public Library. The event was organized by the Tekeyan Cultural Association’s (TCA) Los Angeles Chapter.

Mistress of Ceremonies Lora Kuyumjian welcomed the audience and pointed out that this book was the 12th publication of Tekeyan Cultural Association, sponsored by the newly-established Yervant Azadian Literary Endowment Fund. She then invited to the podium the first speaker of the evening, Parsegh Kartalian, to introduce Jaque Hagopian, the author.

Kartalian had known the author early on, from the days when they were both in Cairo, Egypt. He noted that Jaque Hagopian was born in Jerusalem in 1917 and once in Cairo, he mastered the Arabic Language to be able to be admitted to the Fouad I University. He graduated from that prestigious institution with a degree in pharmacy.

Kartalian then dwelled upon the close relationship the author had with the prince of Armenian poetry, Vahan Tekeyan. It was this intimate acquaintance that eventually gave birth to the idea of writing this book, he mentioned.

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Kartalian noted that he had also known the author’s brother, Yervant Hagopian. Finally, painting a clear picture of the author’s character, he said that love sticks out as its main feature. Love towards God, love towards the Armenian language, love towards mankind and especially love towards Vahan Tekeyan, he concluded.

Ovsanna Rakoubian, a former student of Jaque Hagopian’s Armenian language class in Beirut, Lebanon, fondly recalled the first day her teacher had entered the class. She then read two pieces from his book, one of which was about the passing on of Vahan Tekeyan.

Dr. Marzbed Margosian, author, educator and a former scientific researcher at Harvard University in Cambridge, was called upon to present the book. He said that the book is composed of three sections. He then presented those sections in detail, analyzing and evaluating them. He pointed out that Hagopian had started writing in French, before he ventured into writing in Armenian.

The first section of the book deals with Vahan Tekeyan. He is a humble, communicative and humoristic human being, contrary to the general impression that he had been gruff. This section also deals with his beliefs on God and his constant struggle to find Him, as revealed through his poetry. A good example would be his famous poem, “The Armenian Church.” In short, Margosian noted, it is a research depicting his perception of religion.

The second section is a journalistic diary of events taking place from 1937 to 1945, when he passed away. Jaque Hagopian’s acquaintance with poet Vahan Tekeyan had started in 1938, stated Margosian. This section deals with Vahan Tekeyan’s agony, pain and misery, especially towards the end of his life when he fell sick. He was a lonely man, no one to go to and no one to open up to, as he was not married and had no family members surrounding him.

The last section looks like a parade of the well known in the Armenian literary, political, cultural and religious arenas that have touched upon the life of Vahan Tekeyan, said Margosian. In a film version of this section, this would have been a list of guest appearances that come and go, well woven in the plot of a true life story of a giant in the Armenian literary world of the 20th century, concluded Margosian.

When the author took to the podium, he mentioned that he wanted the publication of his book to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Tekeyan Cultural Association’s Los Angeles Chapter. He first thanked God for his full and rich life, and then he thanked the association for sponsoring the publication of his book and the various people who had taken part in the program. Finally, he thanked the general audience for being there for him.

The final speaker of the evening was Very Rev. Dajad Yardemian, vicar general of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. He said that the struggle to believe or not to believe in God is not unique to Vahan Tekeyan; it is rather universal and every reasoning individual is engulfed in this dilemma until a satisfactory resolution surfaces and gives that inquisitive person a lasting peace of mind.

A light reception followed the presentation and the members of the audience had a chance to meet with the author.