An Armenian lady, Hrant and April 24

Orhan Kemal Cengiz
Orhan Kemal Cengiz


Date posted: April 24, 2013

There is a story that Hrant Dink used to tell on many different occasions that I would like to share with you. Let us listen to the story from Hrant:

“An old Turkish man called me from a village in the region of Sivas and said: ‘Son, we searched everywhere until we found you. There is an old woman here. I guess she is one of your people. She has passed away. Can you find any relative of hers, or we will bury her with a Muslim service.’

“He gave me her name; she was a 70-year-old woman called Beatrice who had been visiting on holiday from France. ‘OK, uncle, I will take a look,’ I said.

“I looked around and within 10 minutes I had found a close relative; we knew each other because there are so few of us. I went to the family’s store and asked: ‘Do you know this person?’ The middle-aged woman there turned to me and said: ‘She is my mother.’ Her mother, she told me, lives in France and comes to Turkey three or four times a year, but after a very short time in İstanbul prefers to go directly to the village she left many years earlier.

“I told her daughter the sad news and she immediately traveled to the village. The next day she phoned me from there. She had found her mother, but she suddenly began to cry. I begged her not to cry and asked her whether or not she would bring her body back for burial. ‘Brother,’ she said, ‘I want to bring her, but there is an uncle here saying something,’ and gave the phone to him while crying.

“I got angry with the man. ‘Why are you making her cry?’ I asked. ‘Son,’ he said, ‘I didn’t say anything… I only said: Daughter, it is your mother, your blood; but if you ask me, let her stay here. Let her be buried here… water flows and finds its way.’

“I was thrown at that moment. I lost and found myself in this saying by Anatolian people. Indeed, water flows and finds its way.”

I do not know if this story has the same effect in English, but in Turkish and with the way that Hrant narrates it, it has a tremendous effect on the listener. And it is amazing how a little story can tell us so much about our tragedies, about human suffering, about empathy and so many other things.

I have always expressed in this column that we cannot understand human tragedies by only using our intellects. We need intuition. We need to open our hearts. I believe Turks and Armenians can understand each other, their common past, tremendous human suffering that occurred on this land of Anatolia.

Hrant was an Anatolian dervish who had an amazing capacity to reach people’s hearts. After telling the above story, most of the time he also said this: “We Armenians do desire this land because our roots are here. But don’t worry, we desire not to take this land away, but to come and be buried under it.”

When April 24 approaches I always remember the stories he used to tell. Unfortunately we lost him, as we lost so many of our Armenians. I respectfully bow before the memory of Hrant and all Armenians who lost their lives and suffered great tragedies in Anatolia.

Source: TodaysZaman, 23 April 2013


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