Born in Derbent, in Daghestan, Russia (northwest of Baku), and orphaned at an early age, Maro was raised by her brothers and educated at the local secondary school. While a student, she actively participated in gatherings organized by activist-patriotic groups. She joined the Dashnaktsoutiun at its inception.
In 1894 she moved to Tabriz as a teacher and revolutionary fieldworker and was elected to the local ARF body.
She taught needle-lace to young Armenian women, also forming reading and discussion groups in which she read the Droshak and discussed social and national issues of the day.
She participated in the work of transporting arms and ammunition to Turkish Armenia, and her home became a veritable arms depot, as well as a hideout for revolutionaries on the run. When working in the effort to transport arms, she met and became engaged to Aristakes (Karo) Zorian, Rostom’s younger brother and a founder of the ARF’s weapons foundry in Tabriz.
In 1896, Maro went to Salmast (Iran) to help in the preparations for the Khanasor expedition against the Mazrik tribe of Kurds. In Salmast, she saw that Karo was hesitant to participate in the expedition. Ascribing that hesitation to his love for her, Maro found herself in emotional turmoil and steadily fell into deep depression.
On December 2, 1896, Maro committed suicide. She left behind a letter (excerpt below), not addressed to anyone but certainly meant for Karo.
Karo took part in the Khanasor expedition on July 25, 1897. He was killed in the fighting, one of only a few Armenian casualties that day.
You who cast the work of Armenia’s liberation above my and your personal happiness, you who sacrificed your love to a higher idealistic love, now carry out your word—place your life as sacrifice on the sacred altar of the homeland. Like Papken Siuni [of Bank Ottoman], fill yourself with lethal vengeance. Carry out my last bequest, only thus can my bones find rest in my grave. I had enough courage to be able to burn all the ships behind you; henceforth, you are completely free. Go to your work. Forgive me. A thousand kisses. My last greetings to all our comrades.
From Maro’s last letter
It is a regular day. The sun is hot enough to burn, although a white sheet of snow still covers everything in a thick layer. The bells toll sadly. The men and women of the village have surrounded a red coffin that the fedayis are carrying toward the hilltop, to the cemetery. There were among them representatives from as far away as Ardos and the Caucasus…. They were burying their dear “Tato,” who had sacrificed so much for the homeland’s freedom-fighters and soldiers. They sense that no one will take the place of their sister. Tears are falling in streams on creased faces, coarsened fists unable to wipe them.
From Droshak, 22 February 1897