by Abdullah Ayata
(translated by Emre Serbest)

Inspired by a true story, an epic story of individual and communal love and respect accompanied by  tragedy of people of different ethnicities living side by side and together in central Anatolia facing the elements of life that challenge the ying & yang of life. 

Book Review by: Sevgin OKTAY

They are the wise Turkish Hodja of Shihbarak village and the Armenian Priest Ornik of Tomarza village who deftly pave the way for the young Veli and beautiful Horimsi to get married in an intriguing and nail biting scheme bringing and knitting together not only the hot loving and loved youths, but also the two communities living in stone’s throw away from each other. 

The wisdom of one and the mastery of the other in the pursuit of better life for all, the two communities face threats both from within and without the Ottoman Empire of which they were the devoted citizens in their own ways. 

They help each other heroically in fighting off the enemy from without, while they have to part ways to lessen the dangers from within.  Mehmet, the young Turkish child is in tears when his Armenian child friend Armen is getting ready to leave with his family to distant lands of the Ottoman Empire until the situation with some terrorist gangs is cleared up.  They exchange gifts: a beautiful spinning top from Armen to Mehmet, and a very tasty dried-fruit paste from Mehmet to Armen. 

Many years later, after Hodja and the priest die, Mehmet, the wise man of the village and Armen, the rich industrialist in Beirut and later in France, finally manage to plan to see each other thanks to the airline ticket that Armen had sent to Mehmet. 

But, literally at the last minute prior to Mehmet’s departure from his village, as “A Strange Twist of Fate,” Armen is assassinated. Mehmet and the villagers were devastated. 

At the time of his death under a rain of bullets, Armen was tightly holding his wallet containing not money but a poem with the following ending words…

“I’d like to be in Tomarza,

I’d like to die in Tomarza,

. . .

Maybe folks could come and go, in threes and fives,

Armenians, Avshars and Turkmen

. . .

They separated me, from my homeland,

Giant claws of big hands…

Was it fitting for my poor soul,

To live in these foreign lands…

I’d like to be in Tomarza,

I’d like to die in Tomarza…

My silverberries suffice me.

May the trees of the abroad, not shade over me …

May the trees of the abroad not shed their leaves over my grave…

A review by Sevgin Oktay

07 July 2019

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"The U.S. Turkish Library & Museum For Friendship and Peace" project joined, and has been produced under the umbrealla of The Light Millennium Organization effective on October 15, 2015.