« J’ai un entrain excellent pour écrire, j’ai commencé un livre sous forme de mémoire, je te donnerai des détails plus tard. C’est un secret. Personne à part toi et Hrant ne doit savoir rien à ce propos. C’est un projet très amusant et peut être fructueux, enfin ça marche bien » - Lettre à Sophie Yesayan, 18 septembre 1930, Paris.
Zabel Yesayan’s numerous letters to her daughter, Sophie Yesayan, are part of the archives of the State Museum of Art and Literature. While reading one more time the whole collection, I was amazed at how close and unique was this mother-daughter relationship. Zabel would share regularly her concerns, fears and joys with her. She would send excerpts of her writings, asking for her opinion and advice.
In Paris, Sophie was a librarian by profession and she continued working in that area after her move to Soviet Armenia with her mother in 1933. Her life took a tragic turn after her mother's arrest in 1937 for being a dissident, followed by the loss of her only child and the difficult relationship with her husband's family. While Hrant, her brother was able to survive the disappearance of his mother with the help of his immediate family, Sophie, on the other hand, was completely devastated. Clara Terzian, a family friend, remembers how one day, several years after Zabel Yesayan's proclaimed death, Sophie showed up in front of their apartment dressed like a beggar, broken and completely lost.
During her last years, she found refuge in the basement of her brother's apartment and spent her days gathering all of her mother's work; copying and collecting every single memory related to the life and work of the famous writer. Her dedication in preserving her mother’s remaining legacy was essential in creating an important archive of the author in the Museum later on.
In the above excerpt of one of the letters addressed to Sophie, Zabel Yesayan expresses her deep enthusiasm towards writing and the start of a new project: a book of memoirs. She asks her daughter to keep it a secret for now but ensuring her that it will become a big success one day. She is probably referring to her memoirs, The Gardens of Silihdar, which will be published in Yerevan in 1935.