Khelkis chi bargeerah
My Uncle Kevork would sometimes use this diplomatic phrase to free himself from an impending obligation like loaning money. He was once invited to dinner by an Armenian family, whose business was expanding. They were also on the brink of bankruptcy because of not being able to supply their customers. They invited Uncle Kevork for an old fashion Armenian dinner and honored him in many ways so that he would consent to loan them money. Uncle Kevork had worked hard and gradually built up a savings. After dinner, the hopeful business family proposed their plan for developing their growing business and asked Uncle Kevork if he could loan them money. He deftly said “Khelkis chi bargeerah” which means literally (what you are telling me) does not sleep well in (the bed of) my mind or, I don’t quite understand what you are telling me. The business men tried over and over again to explain their proposal so that all aspects of the business venture were clear. Uncle Kevork’s only reply was khelkis chi bargeerah, which amounts to a polite, yet frustrating way of saying no. He did not want to say no directly, so he kept insisting that his mind could not comprehend their proposal. Uncle Kevork was never invited again by that family for an old fashion Armenian dinner.
My mother once gave me her accumulated wisdom about how to deal with people who might approach me for borrowing money. She told me, if ever anyone asks you to borrow money, take out your handkerchief and begin to cry. Don’t stop crying until they go away. She asked, “Do you have a handkerchief?” I said no. “Immediately get one” she said. This was actually good advice.
Published onNovember 14, 2005