A hundred meters from the Syriac convent of St Mark, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were clandestinely
domiciled for a while, Arakel, the patriarch of the Baghsarian clan, and his younger brother Noubar,
had set up home, sharing the same courtyard and the same facilities.
Arakelranasmallshop,astallrather,barelymorethananelargedholeinthewall,wherehesoldbreadand"chaman"(tangy garlicinfusedpaste)and"basturmah"(seasonedbeefeitherasaslaborsliced).Youateonespreadof"chaman"andyou carried the smell of garlic on you for days.NoubarhadworkedasadriverfortheBritishMandatearmy,butaftertheywithdrewfromPalestine,hetriedhishandsat variousoddjobs:aproud,unbentmanwhoneversoughtahandoutdespitethedireeconomicdifficultieshisfamily encountered.Arakel'spassionwasfootball,andhisfavoriteteam,theHomentmenwhoseexploitshefollowedwithfanaticalzeal: wheneveroneoftheplayersscoredagoal,hewouldplungehishandintohispocketandcomeoutwithasumptuousreward- sometimes as much as 5JD (Jordanian dinars), a princely sum in those days.Andonce,whentheHomentmenwonaJerusalemchampionship(thiswasin1947),heinvitedthewholewinningteamtoa picnic (in Ein Karem, site of the home of John the Baptist).Hisyoungerson,thephotographer Avedis,recallsthatwhenagoodplayerdecidedto"leavetownduetounemployment,he[aid his food and losging so he would stay.""Iusedtohelphimcarrysacksoforangesandcasesof'gazoz'(fizzydinks)tothefootballfieldforhalftimerefreshments," Avedis remembers. "He was a very sensitive, emotional man and cried a lot during Armenian gatherings." Neighbors would say, with a chuckle, that Arakel's tears would flow even when someone would wish him a "good morning.""Afterall,Iremembermyfatherasalovingpersonwhocaredabouthisentireclan-notonlyjusthisownfamily,buthisbrothers and sister as well. Oneofhisgrand-nieceswillneverforgettheNew YearevehebestoweduponherawholeJDwhenasshebenttokisshishandasa mark of reverence and respect, as was the custom then. Her father only earned 3JD a month. "His kindness enveloped strangers as well," Avedis adds. "He was modest in helping others and did not look for compliments."