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April 24, 2001
A Sorrow Beyond Dreams

Rest in peace, my little namesake.

The creek below us was unapproachable, the stink of rotting corpses, where they'd killed the Armenians. Later I took in a five-year-old Armenian boy named Aziz. He was small, a pretty child. The government had announced that those protecting, feeding, hiding Armenians, or refusing to tell of where they were hiding, would be punished in the same way, so I would introduce him as my son. People knew I loved the boy, and let me be. One day Kepoglu Halil Agha came up to me and said:

"Meryema, you know the government's orders. Now we all know you're hiding a boy, and that you love him. I don't want any harm to come to you. Why don't you let me hide him for you, and I'll bring him back when this blows over."

I didn't want to, at first. He said, "Look, everyone knows you have the kid. Someone will tell, and the soldiers will come and take him away, and kill him. Then you'll regret it." I relented. Aziz was eight years old by then. I told him to go with his Uncle Halil, that I would come and get him a short while later. And I made Halil Agha promise me that he would protect the child, that he would bring him back to me safe. He gave me his word and I kissed the boy goodbye. He was shaking with fear. They went.

Two days later I heard those guys had killed that innocent boy and given his body to the government. I went into shock. I can't forget him.

The 1915 anecdote above (told by the author's grandmother) is from A Diary of Violence   by Mehdi Zana (Istanbul: Belge, 1992). I borrowed the title from a story by Peter Handke.

Empty swings

The children gone. I took this a long time ago, when I was a little kid myself.


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The current banner photo was taken on the grounds of the Hains Point golf course in Washington during the snowstorm accompanying the Curious George Bush Junior inauguration weekend. For the story on the foxes in the picture see this January dispatch.

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