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News

THE TURKISH WOMAN
An incident from the Edesia (Urfa) massacre

24.04.08

I went from Lebanon to Alexandria on an Austrian steamer “Mari-Teresa” with H. Sh. from Cilicia, whom I had known still in Cyprus. This man had a mental illness, which as I know he had got in his birthplace having heard about Turkish barbarities and sometimes witnessed them. It seemed to him that his personality is an important “prey” for the Turkish police, he saw in every foreigner, in many cases familiar ones, spies, as if they came to Cyprus only with a certain and definite object to arrest him. However, he had no close or far connection with the revolution. Sometimes, while we were sitting at the restaurant with my friends or wal, H. Sh. suddenly would rise and run, because somebody’s face, sitting or walking near us, seemed suspicious to him. It seemed as if the spies existed only for him.

When the steamer, flowing in peaceful waters, took direction to Beirut, and the Cyprus mountains assembled with the clouds, H.Sh., pointing the two shepherds whom we had seen for many times in Lebanon and who were transporting sheep and oxen to Port Said, said to me:

-Do you know these are not trustworthy people?

I tried to persuade him, explaining that even if these men were the most lawless ones, they could do him no harm in the steamer and because he had no necessity to disembark in the Turkish port, he had no reason to fear from any of those men or somebody else. However, I realized that I persuaded him in vain.

One incident drove H. Sh.’s threat to extremes. In the same evening the “Mari-Teresa” has just cast an anchor near Beirut when dozens of policemen broke into the steamer. I felt that my friend caught my hand trembling and I could hear clanging of his teeth. To tell the truth, I also was worried. I remembered at that time that the Turkish government in Constantinople was searching refugees in foreign steamers. Policemen left in a half-hour, taking with them an old criminal, ran from Izmir, the governor of Beirut had got a telegram about it.

We stayed 24 hours in the above-mentioned port. All that time H. Sh. did not appear, but remained unnoticed in a corner, only constantly drank water. His eyes were wide open, voice was hoarse.

Five hours later the steamer was on the way to Yafa when H.Sh. caught my hand, took me to a corner and said,

-Did you see the telegram?

-What telegram?

-Addressed to the captain.

-When?

-Now it was given to the captain.

As the Morse alphabet was not yet invented, I looked at his terrified face. His eyes were widened, cheeks were beautifully red, voice was like a whistle, and lips were chapped. It was terrible.

What was written, - I asked, - in the telegram?

-The captain was ordered to hang me, to throw into the sea or give to the Port Said police.

H. Sh has gone mad.

I fell into incomprehensible mental suffering. I asked one of the sailors to keep watch over my friend; and I hurried to find my Syrian friend whom I had seen entering the steamer but so far I had no time to see him.

Alfred P. was an employee of a trade house; he always traveled around the world. He is a humorist like a real Frenchman without levity. His best quality is truthfulness. He speaks, tells without airs and graces, stipulation but with clarity and honesty.

When I found him he was busy with two Misses and a woman explaining to them admires of voyaging in a calm sea.

I told him about my friend’s case.

-Has the doctor seen him? - he asked.

-No.

-He had better see a doctor at once, though I do not think high of those gentlemen’s knowledge and abilities but we should respect tradition to avoid responsibility.

The doctor examined the patient and said,

-Nerves are very tense, be careful so as no disaster happens. Taking a shower may be good, though it may deteriorate the situation. In short, except giving him attention I have nothing to more to add.

-I should tell you something, - interfered Alfred P., - as is known, great pains are healed with great medicine. That man is a victim of needless, foolish fear of imagination. If I tell him more terrible, awful but a real story, maybe he will be cured by counteraction. In all cases we lose nothing.

-What the doctor thinks about the suggestion? - I asked the doctor.

-I do not think it relevant, - answered the doctor, - the list of patients, cured by counteract, is big and if your story is short, I desire to be one of your listeners.

-Do you really do us that honor? - exclaimed Alfred P., - then as an expression of my gratitude, I will invite the woman and two Misses to listen as well. Capability and influence of talented and merciful people have worked great wonders in the world.

-The fair sex has always worked wonders, - said the doctor smiling.

-Then let’s try and wish that our initiative is a success, - answered the woman, sitting on the armchair and inviting her friends to follow her example.

-Mr. H. Sh. listen please, I am going to tell the story mainly for love toward you and my noble friends will listen to me very carefully, - said Alfred P. as a prologue to his story.

II

“During the year of the Armenian massacres I went to Urfa with a Turk, whom I should call Abdullah, to settle some affairs. He, after being punctual for a long time, has not yet answered letters of the trade house for several months. The massacre has already over in the city. Both Turkish and European newspapers informed that peace was reestablished. Besides, possibility of another massacre was excepted. Before leaving Beirut, I visited the Consul and he promised me safety that there was no reason to fear.

So I reached Urfa in Friday evening, on December 8, 1895 and stayed at a house nearby the Armenian inhabited quarter. Next day I met Abdullah, who, showing me friendly acceptance, made me understood that, because of alarming situation, it was almost impossible to pay debts, especially when Christians, who were always punctual with Turks concerning money aid and trade relations, nowadays were terrified and did not go out for fear of the massacres’ restart. Thus all transactions were stopped.

He would not lie if he told that the majority of Christians had already been robbed and was sitting on ashes. The minority, who managed to save something, has definitely hidden it in a secure place, from where, naturally, would not take out, unless peace was finally established.

From my rooms, as I have already told I was nearby the Armenian inhabited quarter, I could easily see that poor people. They, half dead from fear, sometimes scaring came out only when hunger and thirst made them, and they felt fortunate, if they were able to return home without being injured or beaten. However, necessity to come out of the house day by day became impelling and was still increasing. Stored foodstuff and furniture was robbed, destroyed during the events of October 16. Numerous Armenians were almost nude. Men, women, girls and children were in rags. It was not difficult to guess that the rags were thrown by robbers as useless cloths. The rags served for the many poor to hide their nudeness and more or less to defend themselves from cold. Everybody was thin and sick, suffering and threat as if was indelibly embossed on their death-like faces.

On the third day after reaching Urfa, in the early morning I jumped from my bed. I could hear voices of suffocating weeping. I opened my window and witnessed such a depressing, heart-breaking scene that hardly had somebody ever seen once in his life. A young woman in rags knelt down before the door. There were two dead bodies of an old woman and a child lying on the ground a little afar. The woman, without being able to suffocate weeping, was hitting her head to the stones and tousling her hair on bodies of her mother and last son. Later I learnt that those poor were victims of cold and other sufferings. It has already been two days that they were dead, but the woman, being lonely, had to keep them in the house and put them on dry grass that had served for the three as a bed more than for two months. The first massacre had already taken her father, husband and two sons, and her daughter was vanished by the hands of the hamids.

At the moment, when I looked at the stinging woman who deserved to be called Christian “Tormented Mother”, the street was deserted. Nevertheless I did not dare to go out and console that miserable and poor woman, the only tragic from the large family, as there were evil rumors in the city. News of upcoming attack has seized all survivors.

At last the woman, hearing footsteps and kissing her beloved relatives’ dead stone bodies with long and heartily kisses, entered the house. Hardly had she closed the door when a pack of hungry dogs, I do not know from where, fell on the bodies... Convulsively I closed my eyes.

A bit later I looked at them; nothing was left from those two bodies that once used to belong to human creatures. Only some dogs were licking their paws and snouts and some others were gnawing bones... It seemed as if those animals were used to that kind of “parties”.

III

On the same day, under the most severe threat of punishments, the empire government through the town criers ordered the Christians to open their shops. At the same time the authority, collecting all the survived Armenian elder men under the guard of the police, repeated the same order and threat, however adding that necessary measures are taken not to allow any riot. Moreover, definitely with the object to inspire trust into Armenians, it brought some Turks and ordered them to live in peace with their compatriots. At that time the Armenians and the Turks hugged each other. The first ones, astonishingly naive as usual, hurried to tell other Christians about that happy event. Several shops were opened on that day. Even there were Armenians, who dared to come out without necessity.

Next day on Monday, the government, as a pretext to keep peace, took from the Armenians everything that could serve as a weapon, for instance knives and suchlike things. The poor were absolutely insecure but what could they do? The police broke into houses, took whatever they could find, and if they found nothing, they fined in 5 gold, and this I could not understand in what logic fell. The landlords who were unable to pay the money or its value were put in prison, and Mullahs were sent to keep their widows. However, the number of those who were unable to pay was great, and the government suddenly changed its order; it not only did not send them from their houses but also set free the imprisoned men and women.

IV

That day, to great gladness, passed without any unpleasant clashes.

On Tuesday the number of open shops was increased, more or less trade was enlivened. People were breathing looking forward to better days. One fact that made me get surprised was the following, especially the elder Turks hurried to pay their trifle debts to the Armenians.

That day Armenian priests were able to lead the four deceased, having stayed more than thirty hours in houses, to the cemetery without being stoned. On that day I learnt from a watchmaker about details of the story of the young woman having lost her whole family. The watchmaker also told that there was not a family without any losses of people. Each family mourned loss for one or more killed or disappeared member of the family. The number of destroyed families having lost five or six members was not little. After the massacre the corpses, which the Turks denied to take according to their religious order, either became feed for dogs or the Jews took them out of the city and threw in a hole to be torn up by the claws of jackals. A great number of women, girls were raped, many were abducted. (We should know that in those cases the Turks and troops often were hidden in cloths of the hamides). In short the watchmaker told me about suck events, which ghastliness is unimaginable and indescribable. Adding to it they had loss of property and money.

Though I was profoundly impressed by what I heard and seen, I still hoped that I could at least get half of my demands and leave the city. Those who opened shops seemed to be contented. The consumers were mainly Kurds who, as peaceful walkers, passed from one quarter to another carefully examining them.

Before this, Friday passed and on Saturday morning almost all Christians, full of gladness, were dealing with their business. Friday had threatened them. They were afraid that the Turks more furiously will come out of mosques. Thus on Saturday morning at ten o’clock according to the European time I returned the shop to settle my accounts, as Abdullah partially made me understood that he would pay his debt in the evening, though it seemed to me unbelievable.

Anyhow, I had hardly dealt for an hour with my business, when I suddenly jumped out of my bed deaf with plaintive cries and rabble explodes of rifle mixed with hellish noise and rushed to the street. I cannot tell whether feelings of fear or interest had seized me? Truth is that if I had capacity to ponder, I would not go out.

I witnessed a horrible scene in front of the shop door, which I can never forget. The Armenians were running from different sides being chased by the Turks armed with daggers and furious Kurds that lay in ambush shot those who tried to escape. The dead and the injured were tousled; many of them breathed their last under the knocks of heels. No one was spared. Enraged headsmen took the children away from their father’s or mother’s arms and seizing from the legs hit to the walls or ground, where those children with heart-rending cries were turned into wash under the feet of Turkish women and children. Others with beheaded and bloody heads on their spares were walking in the streets crying devilishly.

Some others were tearing to pieces meat of children with cold-bloodedness who still coiled alive... Those who died of daggers and shots were the most fortunate ones.

During those catastrophic times courage and tenderness in people’s hearts untrained to fight give way to disastrous threat and the instinct of self-defense lessens so much that reasonable creature becomes a thing. I cannot explain the secret of the situation in other words in which Armenians in Urfa happened to be at that evil hour. During the slaughter I have seen parents who tried to rescue only their lives by means of escape or else forgetting their duties. I saw fathers of families, husbands who hid themselves behind their wives and young children, I saw sturdy bulky young men who knelt down and begged open-armed to spare their lives in front of headsmen and even Turkish and Kurd children, whereas they could knock them down with fists and capture their weapons.

However, I saw a very young girl, a figure of bravery and conscious of duty who proved with indisputable and constantly recalling facts that the tribe given birth to her may become brave and threaten its enemies in the case of the smallest desire. That young Armenian girl standing in front of the door defended herself with a long ax. More that twenty Turks and Kurds were fighting against that heroine with swords and daggers. The Armenian girl with agility and irresistible attacks kept away some two enemies, and with lightening speed hit the third one with her ax. When unintentionally she stepped half step forward from the house wall, the only defender of her back, murderers stepped ten steps back. What the use of it was, she was alone, whereas one knocked down was substituted with four others.

That inimitable heroine had knocked down a lot of people and though she was tired, she continued to spread death around her with supernatural power, when suddenly a bullet pierced her forehead and she fell down. Two minutes later the adored body of that amazing Armenian was torn into pieces...

Maybe I am mistaken, but I may announce that some twenty real brave and devoted Armenians must be able to persecute hundreds of murderers in that quarter. They say that Armenians in other quarters did not put up with that and showed such reception to that murderers’ mob that if the regular troop did not come to help by shooting Armenians, the Urfa problem would have a glorious end for the Armenians in Urfa. No matter what happens, it is true that the Armenian girl made me change my mind. Today I am sure that instead of licking slavishly and obeying this or that European state the Armenians will realize their hope if they prudently and seriously turn to self-defense instead of self-preserving.

-What is the difference between self-preserving and self-defense? - asked one of the Misses.

-If I am not mistaken, - answered the doctor, - Alfred P. has practically shown in his story what he understands using these words. For example, those who give themselves in the hands of their murderers with the hope that they will be spared, that is with a distorted instinct of self-preserving, they are not only exterminated by all means but also lose their property. Whereas generous Armenian girl, that seemed to defend only herself, defended also others by inhibiting more than one enemy. Even in the war field a regiment of brave soldiers may resist the troops of enemies and as a result to be presented honorably in front of their compatriots. Drunk with smell of blood, range of people is intensified before fear. The only weapon to demolish them is brave resistance. From a bit broader explanation I may come into conclusion that only with self-defense the individuals of the nation may keep the whole nation defended, preserved and liberated.

-Resistance of Zeitoun is an immense evidence to show inestimable value of self-defense and character of rescue, - said Alfred P., - If the sons of those imposing mountains like their other compatriots put up with hellish intentions of blood-drinking government, we would have no doubt that their historic region had become a large cemetery of unburied corpses, and hard-hearted Circassian, nomadic Turkmen and robber Kurd would periodically celebrate memory of the slaughter on its land.

-From all what I have heard, - said the lady, - I conclude that soul of solidarity does not prevail in this nation. In this case it has no sense to initiate life and death issue, life with solidarity and death with non solidarity. Do the Armenians have any figures and instructors of great idea?

-According to what I know, two companies or revolutionary parties have unintentionally taken over that heavy duty to enlighten people,-responded Alfred P. – Pity is the following that those parties gave the first examples of discord, distrust and adversity to the nation, in contrary to the fact that they were chosen with the duty to advocate love and unity.

-It is a pity, it is a pity, - sighed the lady.

-That nation was unfamiliar to the soul to accomplish solidarity, that is, an individual subordinates his own employ for the benefit of his friend, - said the doctor. – I had an Armenian friend who, being aware of the history of his nation, testified that since the feudal period ministers, self-willed rulers of vast regions and councilors had never initiated a job with agreement. The princes were never united to defend the crown or country during the period when Armenian had kingdom or after the collapse of dynasties. They thought it best to move off their castles and to defend from the enemy only the land under their authority. The enemies, seeing no united, thick troops in front of them, very easily and one by one exterminated those powers.

-Coming back to nowadays revolutionary organizations, - said Alfred P., - we must not renounce that parties, for a powerful and well-arranged people, make the deviations evaporate, and reveal the truth, in short, they are also necessary in peace time for mental and moral prosperity of the nation. However, present situation strictly differs, and I do not comprehend the position of their revolutionary parties fighting against each other so much, that sometimes I ask to myself, suspecting their honesty, “What is the real goal of those men to save the nation or to found individual base?” To my mind not only enemy makes use of their dissidence, but also nation suffers mentally. Keeping people half-asleep, half-awake for centuries, growing weak under the slavery yoke and perversion of ideas hardly born on the bases of human friendship may only have disastrous end.

-But if I am not mistaken, - said the lady, - the Armenians suffered not so much from their unawareness and being untrained to struggle as ignorance of civilized nations.

-I cannot agree with you, lady, - answered Alfred P., - if you do not mean governments by saying nations. My viewpoint about explaining the difference between nation and government will last a bit longer and will be boring.

-Let us cut it short, -interfered one of the misses, - I am afraid that Alfred P. may lose thread of his story. So, with the allowance of lady, my sister and gentlemen and to help Alfred P. collecting his thoughts, first of all I want to know whether the Armenian girl’s self-defense killed with the bullet had any result.

-She saved three lives, - answered Alfred P., - her sick mother’s, poor grandmother’s and her...fiance’s.

-Her fiance’s? – exclaimed everybody unanimously.

-Yes, her fiance’s who huddled trembling in the tonir at the time when her sick mother and grandmother were searching keys to hurry help their brave child.

-Then?

-They could not open the door, as the key was in the tonir with her fiance who did not hesitate to save his life...

The listeners looked at each other with great astonishment.

-How was all that ended? - asked one of the misses.

-The murderers left the house after the death of the heroine and concentrated their rage on another direction, but her mother and grandmother died at the same day with deep heart sorrow, and the fiance...

-And what about the fiance? – asked others unanimously.

-He managed to go abroad, where he represented himself as an unparallel revolutionary hero, and is respected as such by a group of self-promoting revolutionaries, trained to hear the sound of the drum from afar...

An overwhelming silence reigned.

Alfred P. continued.

-I have lost myself so much from that indescribable fear and terror, I was so petrified that I cannot tell how much the unspeakable slaughter lasted and how much I stood in front of the door, how I was not harmed by those furious mob, swarming around.

The mob started to spread, murderers having killed children finding no victims, were leaving but skirmish and slaughter continued in other parts of the city where Armenians have sheltered.

Suddenly I felt that somebody was pulling my hair, I turned back and uttered a catastrophic cry. I was in the hands of four robbers who definitely would make me share the same fate as those innocent people if somebody has not cried from afar.

-He is a consul, do not touch him, otherwise, you will see no good days.

By saying this, he pointed my hat, which, fortunately, has not fallen from my head.

I was immediately set free.

Abdullah, my rescuer, caught from my hand and took me his home leading me through uncountable dead people and those in agony.

-Stay in this room, - he said, - do not go out, until I return.

Insensible I fell on the ground.

When I opened my eyes, I saw Abdullah through the lamp having supper at a plentiful table. When I moved, he turned to me and said,

-You slept, that was good for you, as you must leave the city at dawn. I have already hired a horse for you and made ready cloths of an Arab. Today I managed to rescue you, but I cannot guarantee for tomorrow. The government knows that you are neither a consul nor a foreign citizen. Your only advantage is that you do not belong to the condemned nation. And now come and eat.

I came to the table with trembling body, but you cannot imagine it was impossible for me to swallow a hunk.

My only thought was to obey my debtor; my life was in his hands.

Abdullah came out after dinner and a bit later returning with various kinds of currencies paid my debt. As I know he did not have money I remembered his promise given to me the previous day and I immediately guessed its source. It was just a result of the plunder as the end of the slaughter. I was too angry, but without revealing my emotions, as a pretext of fear not to be robbed on the road, I offered him to delay payment of the debt, with ignorant face as much as possible. Abdullah seemed to understand my thought as smiled and said,

-It is up to you, but be sure that we are true believers, we did our duty perfectly, paying all our debts to the Armenians. It is not our business that they were not able to protect their property.

Afterwards he wished me good night and left me alone.

I could neither sleep nor calm down; disgusting day was before my eyes.

I do not know how long I could still hear shots near the house. I was trembling like a leaf and I could understand in no way what was the reason of that skirmish as I was merely in a Turkish quarter.

Abdullah entered a bit later and calming me down said,

- The killed men were very bad Turks that have hidden several “gjavurs”. Look, how much I exposed myself to danger saving your life. The corpses of those four Turks will be taken to the Armenian quarter and shown that Armenians have killed them.

I no longer had heart and wished nothing in the world but only to leave that cursed city.

V

Suddenly I heard wailing in the house. I, frightened, fell into thousands of suppositions, when the door was opened with irresistible power, and a woman with running eyes, hair down and bare foot broke into the room Abdullah was running after her, shouting angrily.

-What are you doing Fatima, lawless woman; you stand in front of a foreigner with your face open...

-Leave me, - cried the woman, - my son is dying and you are speaking of “namehrami”.

Meanwhile the woman knelt down and stretching her baby, several months old, besought,

-Effendi, have a merci on my son, save my Osman.

I was embarrassed and threatened as I did not know who that woman was and what she wanted, how much I should be charged having unintentionally seen face of a Turkish woman, which was unveiled and honored me her look. Presumably I must have paid with my life for that dare, especially in such a time and in such a city where breath of a moth and a foul worm was more respected than lives of Christians.

My face must have had an unusual expression, because Abdullah suddenly gave me a cup of water, saying,

-Do not be afraid, take the water. Fatima is my wife and your sister.

Ah, that horrible day, ah, that dreadful night.

I had been in such dreadful conditions, and had so various feelings with palpitation during those never forgetting twenty four hours that I am surprised how I did not go mad or stay alive.

However, the woman did not stop stretching her baby to me, whose thin and little face had already a stamp of death pallor.

-Effendi, effendi, - the poor mother was crying, - save my son, save my Osman. I fall down at your feet, for the love of your mother save my son, please.

-My sister, - I prattled, - I am not a doctor.

-Ah, you are not a doctor, - jumped up and screamed the mother of the dying baby.

Then went on with suffered and harrowing voice,

-Ah, my Osman must die. If reverend Abuhayat did not die he would save him, like he saved my other six children. But reverend Abuhayat was killed yesterday. Even a priest was not left to pray for my son.

-For the repose of the soul, - grumbled Abdullah.

And Fatima hugged her baby, washed with tears, wanted to revive her baby with kisses, whose extremities have already begun to congeal.

-My son will die, - again cried the woman.

-It is up to the God’s will, - a deep voice was heard behind.

Threatened, I at once turned my head.

The speaker was a very old woman with quivering and lean body bent on the sticks.

-This is my mother, - said Abdullah and hurried to kiss hands of that respected old woman.

But she scowling pushed him away.

-Do not come nearer, - shouted the woman with death-like voice, - go away, murderer! Go away criminal!

-Mother, - humbly grumbled Abdullah, - I swear with the tomb of my father, that my hands are not covered with blood.

-That is not enough, - answered the old woman annoyed, - where are those girls, women children, the old, the sick and the young, whom you must have saved as a real Christian, must have brought your house? Your father’s house must have become a well-known shelter for all the suffered. Where are the wounds that you got from a hand of a cruel, relative armed Turk, to take away an innocent soul? Your father would have boasted with such wounds. Ah, nationality had its duty and right, neighborhood had its duties, salt and bread had their devoted duty and rights in our days. God wanted me to see these cursed days like you. I will soon die, you will still live but be sure that Moslem, having lost its justice will lose its glory as well and will even approach its end.

The old woman did not calm down.

-And what all these are for? - she went on raising her voice, - only that the sultan has ordered. But have you seen that sultan? No, you only know that he exists. Why do you carry out the word of a newly recognized sultan and do not follow the commandments of God with no beginning and end? Let the criminal be punished, I am not against, but what do you want from the innocent? What is the crime of thousands unaware children, women and old men? You substituted the imam, the Koran with the sheriff (chief policeman) that preaches general massacre. Let him go and preach. Have you read that book? Certainly, not. Then why don’t you think the imam may deceive or mislead you? What deficient people are you that blindly follow words of some people pulling down your house and spouting igneous curses?

The old woman kept silence.

-But mother, - said Abdullah with reverence, - What about Nvard and Gevorg?

-Nvard and Gevorg, - interfered the old woman, - like hopeless lambs running in front of hungry wolves, without knowing where they are going, hugging each other, unintentionally entered here. Yes, Nvard and Gevorg are here. But will you have enough courage and nobleness to defend them if cruel and unbelieving Muslims want to exterminate them?

Then, turning to the door, the old woman continued,

-Come in my children do not be afraid, nobody will touch you unless these shaky hands and mouth without teeth is wrapped in shroud.

For a moment, forgetting my existence, I looked at the door.

A girl of about eighteen years old taking by the hand of a boy of six or seven years old came in. The girl’s fair and uncombed hair lied on her back, black and noble eyes were swelled of crying, large stature was bent. The boy named Gevorg was a small nice boy with eyes widen from fear. Both of them were in torn rags.

-Come my children, hug your second mother, - said the old woman throwing the sticks and opening her arms. – Do not be afraid, though I am old but I have enough motherly tender in my old heart to defend you. Whoever are you father and mother, let God bless them that I were given a chance to do a pleasant thing for my late husband in those hellish days.

Do you guess what I thought at that very moment? Without suspecting kind-heartedness and honesty of that old woman, I thought these two orphans would share the same fate like their relatives hours later. Will Abdullah expose him to deathly danger for them?

The sick baby started to hiccup, which was not a good sign at all. But the mother of the baby started to hope.

-Nvard and you Gevorg, - she turned to the orphans, - hardly have you come in when I heard my baby’s voice. Please, pray that God grants a perfect health to my son.

The miss and the boy stood at a loss.

-My children, do not be afraid, - said the old woman, - pray in your language and in your way, perhaps God hears your blameless voice.

The orphans were kneeling down after making cross when a Turkish boy came in and said,

-Fatima mother, this is sent by my mother, she says if you stew it and give the water to Osman, he will be revealed.

-Give it to me, what is this? – asked the old woman.

The boy gave her a bundle in red cloth and said,

-It is a heart taken from a womb of a mother.

Almost at the same time Abdullah’s wife cried,

-Ah, my Osman died.

While the old woman threw the bundle on the boy with terrible curses, and Nvard, hugged with her brother, fell down powerless and mother having lost her son was hugging her baby, Abdullah caught my arm and wanted to take me out of the room.

-Leave at once, - he said, - you have no right to lose time.

He was certainly right. Each moment could be fatal for me. I also wanted to leave that “gorge of grief” that in the interim groaned in volcanic accouchement. I wished to run a moment earlier without loo back. But Nvard and Gevorg, those two helpless orphans, have chained me, they undoubtedly will be condemned to death after having wonderfully been saved. They have appeared in a flock of griffons like two turtledoves. It is true that they had a friend there in a Turkish woman, but how long that woman could defend them and whether she was able to defend them when she herself was almost an unmovable cripple. Thus, I wanted to take them with me and I could not stop looking at their powerless bodies.

The old woman as if guessed my alarming thought.

-Christian, - she said, - with your delay you jeopardize your life without being useful for anybody. Nvard and Gevorg cannot come with you. Taking them out of the house at this moment means cutting their heads. You leave, be sure, unless I breathe my last they will not be harmed. They are my children.

The old woman’s reasons were indisputable.

The day was breaking. Abdullah brought my new cloth, which I fitted on me more or less. We went out of the house and took direction to the shop to have my suitcases. I was almost half-dead. The red bundle had frozen blood in me.

We were approaching the Armenian quarter when we met a group of Jews. Silently, wordlessly like fatally condemned people, they were dragging corpses. The heads of the corpses were beating to the stones with evil proportionality and skipping; they gave the desolated quarter a lethal inspiration and made deaf sounds in stillness of the night. All the doors of the quarter were broken and thrown in the streets. Many times we walked through thickened blood, sometimes I collided with parts of the bodies. We have almost reached the shop when, hearing horrifying sounds, I turned my head and witnessed an indescribable scene in the vague light of the dawn. It was an unspeakable, monstrous incident that made me lose prudence and instinct of wisdom. Out of the quarter, a little afar of the shop, the murderers were subjecting women, girls and children to the meanest tortures without conscience and elementary respect.

I ran with all my strength without controlling myself...

Abdullah seemed running after me, because when I came out of the city I felt that somebody clutched at my cloth.

-You made a great mistake by running, - he said to me, - fortunately boys were busy and paid no attention to you, and the Jews are very secretive. Wait here, I will go and send your suitcases and somebody to lead you to the caravan of Diarbekir, which has stopped in close proximity.

In an hour I was on upland when the sky grew dark with thick smoke, whereas heart-rending screams were astounding the air in hellish laughter.

It was the last scene of the great tragedy; the Armenian church of Urfa set in fire by the Turks and hamides, buried eight thousand bisexual unfortunate of different age under its flaming ruins, they were driven and gathered in the sanctuary by the government.

Terrified and disgusted, I left the nest of slaughters and crimes at full speed”.

Alfred P.’s story was over.



The next day I took the mad man to the Armenian in Alexandria.

Two days later some of his relatives took him to Marcel, where his family had been living for a long time.


EPILOGUE



I again recollect that incident of the Urfa massacre when the previous day I received two letters. One of them contained a small book, which told about the reward distribution at one of the leading collages of Beirut. Thumbing the above-mentioned book, I came across the following name underlined in blue pencil:

“Gevorg Khachoyan, an orphan from Urfa...”and then listing of prizes won by him.

The orphan from Urfa seemed to be workaholic and clever, which inspires us hope that one day he would become a respectable member for his nation.

The content of the second letter, which was in French, I present with literal translation,

“Beirut, September 8, 1901.

Mr. and Mrs. Habib P I have the honor to inform you about the marriage of Alfred P. and Miss Nvard Khachoyan, that took place on September 2, 1901”.

...The old Turkish woman had kept her promise.


Cairo, 1905

© Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute



Here You can see the original text in Armenian. Click on download.
Here You can see the full text in Turkish. Click on download.
Here You can see the full text in Russian. Click on download.


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