Friday, February 16, 2018

Lest We Forget: Mattheos Eblighatian (Մատթէոս Մ. Էպլիղաթեան)

Lest We Forget: Mattheos Eblighatian (Մատթէոս Մ. Էպլիղաթեան)
Translated by Vahe H. Apelian

Mattheos Eblighatian was the father of Melkon and Krikor who were community leaders and parliamentarians, the former in Lebanon and the latter in Syria. Melkon was a surgeon by profession and his brother Krikor an attorney. The brothers assembled their father’s memoirs in a book titling it “ A Life in the Life of My People” (Կեանք մը Ազգիս Կեանքին Մէջ). In the book, Mattheos Eblighatian summarizes his biography as follows.
“I am born in the city kirkagac (Գըրգաղան) in Izmir province, on October 21, 1881. In 1897 I graduated from Mesrobian School of Izmir. After graduating from the public gymnasium in the same city, in 1903 I was accepted to the Constantinople Law University and in 1908 I graduated with Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.
During the Ottoman Government’s constitutional period, I was appointed as a judge first in Yeberos Yania (Եպերոսի Եանիա) and then in Aleppo. In the summer of 1913, I was appointed as the general prosecutor in Van and after six months the president of that city’s Court of Justice.
In July 1914, I was appointed the translator for the Norwegian Major Hoff tasked with the reformation for the Armenians and was appointed in charge of the Armenian affairs.
On June 14, 1919, I was appointed as the executive director of the newly established National Refugee Settlement in Istanbul. While discharging my duties at that capacity, on July 3, 1920, by the order of the Armenian Republic’s Settlement and Reconstruction Ministry’s number 4839 official order, I was appointed as the Republic’s representative in Istanbul and on July 5, 1920 with the official order number 4863 I was appointed the director of Diaspora Affairs.  Since the National Assembly resolved that the Director of Diaspora Affairs would be appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affair; the Republic’s Settlement and Reconstruction Ministry with their September 25, 1920, order number 6629 removed me from the office as their representative, but with the September 26, 1920, order number 5546 from the Republic’s Minister of Foreign Affair Hamo Ohanjanian, I was tasked as the temporary representative of Republic of Armenia in Istanbul and my salary and other details were conveyed to me by representative Tahtajian.
The Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with their Order number 5548, dated 28 September 1920 to F. Tahtajian, noted that Mattheos Eblighatian is considered as the Republic’s Ambassador and that the Ministry is awaiting his acceptance to send him the necessary official forms. During that period, it is known that the Turks and the Russians attacked our free and independent Republic. My ties with Yerevan were severed. I, on the other hand, tilted as the “Director of Diaspora Affairs”, and according to the provisions conveyed by Republic’s Government, I carried my duties as the Republic’s Ambassador until December 1922, when by the order of the British Government we were forced to shut down the Embassy.”
His sons, Melkon and Krikor, who as noted, assembled their father’s papers into the book noted that his brief biography reflected their father’s true nature for precision and detail for historical accuracy sake. They further noted “Mattheos Eblighatian’s autobiography ended by November 1922, while he passed away thirty-eight years later. Those were painful years as a refugee at which time he moved from one country to another five to six times.” Consequently, the brothers took upon themselves and presented the chronology of their father Mattheos Eblighatian’s life starting from his birth date. Their study of their father’s writings revealed the following chronology of their father’s life.

Mattheos Eblighatian was born on October 21, in kirkagac (Գըրգաղաճ).
Graduated from Mesrobian School in Izmir
Graduated from secondary Turkish school of Izmir (gymnasium)
He was a student of law in Istanbul
On July 10, the Ottoman Constitution is proclaimed
Mattheos Eblighatian received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.
In March, M. Eblighatian was appointed as a judge in Yania.
He was moved to the Aleppo with the same capacity.
In March, he was appointed the General Prosecutor in the Van.
In May, he embarked on his journey to Van following the route: Istanbul-Batumi-Tflisi-Yerevan-Izmir-Pergri.
He reached Van on July 12.
On December 15, he was appointed President of the Van’s Court of Justice.
On July 10, he was appointed as the Armenian translator to the Norwegian Major and general examiner Hoff.
On August 17, accompanying Hoff on his mission, he returned from Van to Istanbul via (Paghesh-Dikranagerd-Ourfa-Aleppo-Beirut and then by boat to Izmir and Istanbul).
In October, Turkey took part in the First World War siding with Germany.
From November to 1918, he carried his compulsory military service in the Ottoman Army.
He was a major overseeing army provision in the Great Island of Marmara.
On October 30, married Marinos (Marie) Chilingirian.
On October 30, the Armistice of Mudros was signed.
He was elected as a national representative in Istanbul
He was appointed as the executive director of Refugee Settlement in Istanbul.
On July 3, he was appointed as the Republic of Armenia’s Settlement and Reconstruction Ministry’s representative in Istanbul while carrying his tasks as the executive director of settlement until November 1, 1920.
On September 28, he was appointed as the Republic of Armenia’s Director of Diaspora Affairs, but matter facedly, he acts as Republic’s Ambassador.
In December, by the order of the British Government, he put an end to his role as the Republic’s Ambassador in Istanbul.
He found refuge in Romania.
He moved to Athens with his family.
He moved to Aleppo, Syria and assumed the principalship of Haigazian Coed School.
He moved to Antioch (Sanjak of Alexandretta) and engaged in the practice of law.
In the beginning of the year he was appointed as a judge in Antioch until the 1939 annexation of the region into Turkey.
On March 15, he was appointed as a member of the Court of Justice in the city of Lattakia, Syria and as an arbitrator in Kessab and Qastal Maaf.
He was appointed as the sole Judge overseeing provisions in greater Lattakia and acted at that capacity until 1947 while retaining his other function.
In November he retired from employment.
He passed away on September 30, 1960.

“A Life in the Life of My People” (Կեանք մը Ազգիս Կեանքին Մէջ) makes for a fascinating reading and is primary historical source. The book awaits translation.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

An Improbable Enduring Love
Vahe H. Apelian (February 6, 2015)

From the '50s to the early '70s my father ran a hotel in Beirut called "Hotel Lux". Almost all of our clients were Armenian, many from Iraq. Earlier on the Iraqi-Armenians came for summer vacation. Later they mostly came as immigrants on their way West or to Australia.
Among them was a young man whose name was Vartan. He has remained etched in my memory for decades. What I will write about happened in the late '60s.
Vartan and his family were waiting for their immigration visas to Australia. Theirs was a  traditional family. For all, I knew they might have hailed from the Armenian historic town Van or its region. Vartan’s parents may have been born there or were born in Iraq to surviving Vanetsi parents. Vartan was deferential to his parents, in an old-fashioned way.
Vartan and I became acquaintances. For a while, we also lived in the same quarter of the hotel. Thus I would see him almost daily. Over time, our acquaintanceship grew into friendship. I seemed to have earned his trust as he confided to me his predicament.
He had fallen in love with an Iraqi-Assyrian girl. Her name was Sarah. Everyone in Basra, their hometown, knew that Vartan loved Sarah, as he would tell me in his distinct accent. “Sagh Basran kidi vor Vartan Saran ge siri” (Սաղ Պասրան գիտի որ Վարդանը Սարան կը սիրի). However, their relationship had not progressed and each had gone their separate way. Vartan had come to Beirut on his way to Australia. Sarah and her family had gone to England on their way to the United States. Vartan had recently gotten hold of Sarah’s address in England from a mutual friend in Iraq. He asked me to write to Sarah in English. I don't remember why in English and not in Arabic.
For many weeks I wrote her a weekly letter which Vartan dictated. They were not the usual love letters--“I love you...can not live without you, etc.”. Vartan’s letters were mundane, about everyday happenings, and about his family's wait for their visas.  After many letters and no reply from Sarah, I told Vartan to give up chasing her. The girl is not interested otherwise, she would have replied by now, I told him. Vartan would have none of it. The weekly letters continued.
One day Vartan showed me a letter from Sarah’s father addressed to him. I remember almost verbatim what the man had written. In plain and impeccable English he said that all the ink in the world would not bring Vartan and Sarah together and that Vartan should have  "hit the iron while it was hot". Some anger was palpable in the letter. Vartan’s family might have been cool to the prospect of the young couple's marriage for reasons that might have been linked to their departure from Iraq. Both families had started their preparations to leave Iraq about the same time.
Vartan remained adamant. The innocuous "love" letters continued. Through their mutual friend in Iraq, Vartan had learned Sarah’s family’s address in America and their departure date that would take place more or less with Vartan's family's departure time for Australia. Love-struck Vartan then made a pact with me: After he settled in Australia, he would forward me his letters in Armenian, which I would translate into English and send to him. Improbable as it may sound, that is what we did. But eventually, the letters trickled and finally stopped.
The last letter from Vartan was addressed to Sarah’s father. While he was not overtly asking the hand of his daughter, marriage seemed to be on his mind. Much like the previous letters, this letter also was mostly about mundane matters about Vartan's and his family's life in Australia.
I did not hear from or of Vartan after his last letter. Over time our Beirut communal world changed as well. "Hotel Lux" was destroyed in 1975 at the onset of the protracted Lebanese Civil War. I ended up immigrating to the United States in 1976.
Last May, during one of my periodic visits to my mother at the Ararat Nursing Facility in Los Angeles, I learned that an Australian-born Iraqi-Assyrian, Dr. Nicholas Al-Jeloo, would deliver, at the Ararat-Eskijian Museum-Sheen Chapel, a lecture entitled, "Armenian and Assyrian Cooperation and Co-Habitation in Iran's Urmia Region".
Over several decades Whenever I had heard of Assyria or Assyrians, Vartan had come to my mind. I would wonder what had happened to him and of the fate of his impossible love. I decided to attend the lecture that took place on Sunday, May 4, 2014, at 4 p.m.
Being hard pressed for time, I could not linger after the talk to share my Assyrian-Armenian story with Dr. Al-Jeloo. I barely had time to purchase his illustrated book which captured old Assyrian villages in Iran. Dr. Al-Jeloo signed the book and gave me his business card. I returned home to Ohio.
Months went by. One day while going over papers I had brought with me from my mother’s house, I came across a journal I had kept on a bus trip to Eastern Europe. My parents had paid for the trip to congratulate me for being accepted to the pharmacy school of the American University of Beirut. To my great surprise, I came across a few page entry about Vartan in my journal. It was high time, I thought, I contacted Dr. Al-Jeloo. I sent the email on August 4, 2014.
I gave the doctor a summary of Vartan's story and added: “I never got a wedding invitation. If nature was kind enough to their enduring love, they should be now grandparents or grandparents to be. I wanted to share their story with you. Unlike Queen Shamiram not giving up on Ara the Handsome, this time around it was every day Vartan not giving up on the love of his life, Sarah.”

More than two months passed and I did not hear from him. I figured I had come to a dead end and that I should close the book on my memories of the days with Vartan on the veranda of "Hotel Lux".
On October 19, 2014, I received an email from a Suzan Dickranian. Her name did not ring a bell. The email started: “Greetings from Melbourne, Australia!” I did not give much thought to who she could be and why an email from Melbourne? When I opened the email I was stunned to read that she was the daughter of Vartan Dickranian. Lovelorn Vartan of Hotel Lux. The bygone years had somehow erased the family name from my memory and at the moment it did not dawn on me.
A few days earlier, Suzan wrote, her mother had met Dr.  Al-Jeloo following a lecture he had delivered about the Assyrian Genocide. The doctor had asked her whether she was married to an Armenian. She had responded in the affirmative. He had then asked her whether her husband’s name was Vartan. Astonished by the question, she had confirmed that it was.
Suzan then wrote what her father had dictated: “I (Vartan) was then brought over and introduced to Dr. Nicholas, who explained that he had received an email from you, which included a story about an Armenian man he met in Beirut, who was in love with an Assyrian girl. It soon became clear that, by coincidence, I was the man you were talking about!
"I am happy to tell you that I DID end up marrying the Assyrian girl I was in love with!...and the following is our story.
"I arrived in Melbourne, Australia in 1968. Two of my brothers were already here before I arrived with my parents. Unfortunately, my father died in 1969; nine months after we arrived. Prior to his death, he wrote a letter to Sarah’s father in America, asking for her hand in marriage on my behalf. Sarah’s father accepted this proposal and, as a result, Sarah arrived in Melbourne in 1970. However, my father had unfortunately passed away by this time.
"Sarah and I were married just ten days after her arrival, in October of 1970. We had a small wedding with only twenty people.
"In 1972 we had our first child; our daughter Suzan.  We lived in a small apartment, to begin with. We eventually bought a house in 1975, which we are still happily living in, to this day. In 1977, we had another child; our son Armen.
"Suzan grew up and married an Armenian man in 2001.  Armen is now engaged (also to an Armenian) and will be getting married in November this year.” The email also contained a copy of the inscription on the back of a picture. For forty-five years Vartan had kept a passport-size picture of mine which I had forgotten giving him as a keepsake. 
I was saddened to read about Vartan’s father's early death. From what I remembered, he had run a pastry shop in Basra. He probably found his world had completely changed in Australia. I am sure theirs was also a close-knit community in Basra. The circumstance which couldn't be duplicated in Australia. Even though the presence of his children would have softened the impact of the change, nonetheless Basra and Melbourne would have been worlds apart for the aging patriarch. However, he had carried on his responsibilities to the end with dignity. After assuring himself that the family was settled enough to assume the responsibility of providing a comfortable haven for a daughter-in-law to be, he had consented to Vartan’s marriage and had even written to Sarah’s father asking for his daughter’s hand for Vartan.
Probably no student who has attended Armenian school wouldn't know about Assyrian Queen Shamiram’s infatuation with the most handsome king in Armenian history--King Ara the Beautiful. Loyal to his wife and indifferent to mighty Shamiram’s advances, Ara had committed the blunder of his life by rejecting the Assyrian queen's affection. An enraged Shamiram had attacked Armenia with orders to her soldiers not to harm Ara. But King Ara was killed in battle. Distraught, she had placed his body on a hill hoping that the gods would lick his wounds and bring him back to life. In vain. Ara's and Shamiram's story became part of Armenian folklore, if not history.
Over time the Armenians adopted Christianity as their state religion and built a chapel on that very hilltop where pagan gods were once supposed to descend. They had become Christian but had kept the memory of the happening in pagan times. The village that sprang around the hill came to be called Araliz--a compound word made of the king's name and the Armenian verb to lick. The village now has grown into a town and, as is the regrettable Turkish tradition, its name has been obliterated per a comment I read in in response to my inquiry about Araliz.
This time around it was not a royal affair but a devoted commoner named after one of the most esteemed names in Armenian history, Vartan (Mamigonian). The historic Vartan's name had bolstered his clan's reputation...placing it second only to the Armenian King of Kings Dikran the Great.
Vartan and Sarah have now formed their own "dynasty". I am sure their descendants will carry on the legacy of the improbable but enduring love of the family’s patriarch and matriarch. As in Vartan's and Sarah’s lives, upheavals are inevitable in their descendants’ lives. They also will face trials and tribulations but they will be able to overcome the odds as long as they are committed to each other--much like Vartan and Sarah. For true love endures.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Misconception in February

Misconception in February
Vahe H. Apelian

Several years ago in February, I attended a banquet, in Burbank, California, organized by the local chapter of the Knights of Vartan. The event was to honor noted Armenian educators in the Greater Los Angeles area.
In his opening remarks, the master of ceremonies stated that Armenians know how to make a moral victory out of defeat citing the feast of St. Vartanants. Armenians have been celebrating the feast for over 1,500 years. This popular misconception is rooted in the protracted war Armenians fought against the Persian in the 5th century to retain their right to worship their Christian religion. Instead of dwelling on the outcome of the war, that struggle has been symbolically focused on the fallen commander-in-chief Vartan Mamigionian and his combatants in the battle he lost. The battle is named after the plain on which it was waged and has come to be known as the Battle of Avarayr. It was the first and major military confrontation of that protracted war known as the Vartanian War (Vartanants Baderazm). 
“Though beaten, however, the Armenian army was far from destroyed,” wrote Dr. Antranig Chalabian in an article he wrote in the Military History Magazine. Chalabian elaborated further noting: "Vahan Mamikonian, son of the great Vardan's brother Hmayak, took charge and led the Armenians in a guerrilla war that flared around strongholds and along impregnable heights for the next 33 years. 

During that time, the Sassanids underwent three changes of rulers, and also had to deal with external conflicts with Rome and a new wave of eastern barbarians known as the Ephthalites, or White Huns." The Persian king Balash, reassessed the long, inconclusive conflict against the Armenians and sued for peace.
Vahan sent messengers to the Persian camp, with proposals for “religious worship in accordance with Christian doctrines and rites to be declared free in Armenia, and fire altars to be removed”. Balash accepted the terms Vahan Mamigonian dictated. In 484 the two parties signed a treaty in the village of Nvarsag conceding to the Armenians the objectives of the war. The treaty came to be known after the village where it was signed. Historians claim that it is the first treaty of its kind.
It is AFTER the signing of the treaty, the conclusion of the war was celebrated in the Cathedral of Dvin. Catholicos Hovhan I Mandakuni (478¬490) officiated the ceremony with the dynastic lords in attendance and has been celebrated since.
It is up to historians and ecclesiastical fathers to shed light as to why the Armenian Church opted to canonize only the participants of the Battle of Avarayr and raise to sainthood its commander-in-chief, its fiery priest Ghevont Yerets and the fallen combatants of the battle but not also Vahan Mamigonian and his combatants who continued the war to its successful conclusion. The Feast of Vartanants is commemorated in February on the Thursday preceding Great Lent. It is both a religious and patriotic feast.
The Battle of Avarayr was surely the major military confrontation of that long protracted war. Eghishé, a contemporary chronicler, described the Battle of Avarair, to which he was an eyewitness as follows: "One should have seen the turmoil of the great crisis and the immeasurable confusion on both sides, as they clashed with each other in reckless fury. The dull-minded became frenzied; the cowards deserted the fields; the brave dashed forward courageously, and the valiant roared. They attacked each other fiercely and many on both sides fell wounded on the field, rolling in agony." 
 The priest-historian broke down the 1,036 Armenian killed in the Battle of Avarayr as follows:
House of Mamigonyan, Brave Vartan and 133 warriors (Մամիկոնեան Տոհմէն՝ Քաջն Վարդան եւ 133 մարտիկներ).
House of Balounyats, Valiant Ardag and 57 warriors (Պալունեանց Տոհմէն՝ Արի Արտակը եւ 57 մարտիկներ).
House of Khorkhorounyats, Skillful-in-Arms Khoren and 19 warriors (Խորխոռունեաց Տոհմէն՝ Կորովի Խորենը եւ19 մարտիկներ).
House of Kntounyats, Admirable Dajad and 19 warriors (Գնդունեաց Տոհմէն՝ Զարմանալի Տաճատը եւ 19 մարտիկներ).
House of Timaksyan, Wise Hmayag and 22 warriors (Դիմաքսեան Տոհմէն՝ Իմաստուն Հմայեակը եւ 22 մարտիկներ).
House of Katchperounyats, Builder Nerses and 7 warriors (Քաջբերունեաց Տոհմէն՝ Հրաշակերտ Ներսեսը եւ 7  մարտիկներ).
House of Knounyats, Manoug Vahan and 3 warriors, (Գնունեաց Տոհմէն՝ Մանուկ Վահանը ե 3 մարտիկներ).
House of Enzaynots, Just Arsen and 7 warriors, (Ընծայնոց Տոհմէն Արդար Արսէնը եւ 7 մարտիկներ).
House of Srouantsdiants, Enlightened Karekin and 2 of his family members, (Սրուանձտեանց Տոհմէն՝ Յառաջադէմ Տարեգինը իր 2 հարազատներով).
Nine major lords along with combatants from Artzrounyats (Արձրունեաց) and other dynastic houses were martyred at the Battle of Avarayr.
As to why we celebrate the war in February, I quote Dr. Antanig Chalabian: “The Vardanian War, as it came to be called in Vardan's honor, began on May 26, 451, but the Armenian church celebrates the event in February. In the past, spring was considered the season for warfare. Armenia's ecclesiastical fathers had decided to commemorate the event in February, before spring, in order to inspire the youth and prepare their minds for battle, in defense of church and fatherland.”

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Poet and The Freedom Fighter

The Poet and The Freedom Fighter
Vahe H. Apelian

There is a French saying that rhymes well. It reads, “qui se ressemble, s'assemble”, which literally means those who resemble, assemble. In English we have come to know the saying as “birds of a feather, flock together”. The eminent poet Taniel Varoujan and the legendary freedom fighter Sepastatsi Murad were not “birds of a feather” but surely their love of their Armenian nation must have coalesced into their mutual admiration if not also friendship. They stood by each other at one of the most auspicious events of their short young lives. Each officiated and enabled the other’s marriage.
Both hailed from Sepastia. Murad (ne' Khrimian) was born in the village Govdoon in 1874. Taniel Varoujan (ne' Tchboukkiarian) was born in 1884 in the village Pekernik, often spelled as Prknig (Բրքնիկ).
Both are iconic figures although each had a different upbringing and pursued a different calling. Taniel Varoujan came from a middle-class family. His father worked in Constantinople. After attending the local schools Varujan was sent to Constantinople where he attended Mkhitarian School after which he attended the Mourad-Rafaelian School in Venice and then Ghent University in Belgium. Murad, on the other hand, was born to a poor rural family. His biographers do not mention him attending school with any regularity. After working as a shepherd and a farm laborer, he moved to Constantinople to eke out a living when still in his teens, much like many other Armenian teens, some as young as fourteen years old, did. There he worked as a porter but was also drawn by a fervor for social justice. He first joined the ranks the Hnchagian Party and subsequently, the A.R.F. Taniel Varoujan was also driven by social justice and was a humanist. By the time of the Ottoman Constitution was enacted in 1909 both had made a name for themselves. Murad had also become a legend among the other luminaries as a freedom fighter. Taniel Varoujan had emerged as a promising poet having authored two books, Shivers (Սարսուռներ, 1906, Venice) and The Heart of the Race (Ցեղին սիրտը, 1909, Constantinople)
The promise of liberty, equality, and justice promised by the Young Turks had engulfed both. Murad returned to Sebastia in 1909. An amnesty that accompanied the said reforms enabled him to do so. In Sepastia he became active in organizing Armenian schools and participating in charitable and civic organizations where he met a girl named Agapi. Both remained attracted to each other.
Apparently, Murad was hesitant to commit himself having a family of his own. Remaining non-committal was a tacit code of honor among the freedom fighters. When Kevork Chavush broke that code and married in secrecy, he caused so much havoc among the ranks that the A.R.F. Bureau intervened to restore order.  Others, such as Serop Pasha married in plain view and his wife, endearingly known as Sose Mayrig, became a legendary figure. In 1910 Murad was already 36 years old, way past the marital age at the times. However, at the urging of his friends, he relented and married Agapi in the St. Nshan Monastery. Taniel Varoujan became their matrimonial godfather, although in some other accounts Taniel Varoujan is listed as being in attendance or witness to their marriage. At his wedding, Murad is quoted having said: “By getting married, I am not resigning from my struggle. Anytime, my fatherland calls on me, it is the voice that I will follow, always loyal to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s glorious banner”. By 1915 they had a son whom they named Kevork, presumably after Murad’s comrade-in-arms Kevork Chavush, who was martyred on May 26, 1907.
The euphoria of the Ottoman Constitution had captivated Taniel Varoujan as well. In 1909 Varoujan also returned to his village and started teaching for a career. To supplement his teacher’s meager salary Varoujan gave private lessons to a young girl named Araxie, the daughter of a wealthy family. As was the local customs at the time, Araxie had been promised in betrothal to the son of another wealthy family when she was still in her crib. That’s why Araxie’s mother always chaperoned her daughter and attended her classes. Yet, the improbable happened. The teacher and the student fell madly in love with each other.
Rumors started flying in greater Sepastia. The classes ended abruptly and Araxie’s parents and the prospective in-laws began hasty plans for an earlier-than-planned wedding, but Araxie remained adamant refusing to comply with her parent’s wishes. Instead of a wealthy husband, she preferred the country teacher of meager means.
The event became the talk of the town among the Armenians in Sepastia. Many regarded the incident scandalous. Some supported Varoujan and wanted the lovers to marry. Others blamed Varoujan for having seduced his young student. The animosity toward him became so great that Varoujan began carrying a stick for defending himself should he be attacked.
Finally, the prominent Armenian freedom fighter, Sepastatsi Murad intervened on behalf of Varoujan, his matrimonial godfather. Murad's stature was such that his intervention quelled all gossip. Araxi’s parents relented and the prospective groom’s parents gave up pursuing the understanding they had with Araxie’s parents. Varoujan and Araxie’s were wed in 1912, after which they moved to Istanbul where Varoujan became the principal of St. Gregory The Illuminator School. By 1915, this young couple had three children: Veronica, Haig, and Armen.
Unbeknownst to these two families as well as to countless other Armenian families across their ancestral lands, a sinister plan was being put in place for their annihilation. Taniel Varoujan in Constantinople was apprehended on April 24, 1915, and put to the death a few months later. He was 31 years old. His last legacy, the unpublished collection of his poems was somehow salvaged from his captors and published as The Song of the Bread (Հացին երգը, 1921, Constantinople). His wife and children survived and immigrated to the United States of America.
All along, Murad had remained mistrustful of the promises the Young Turks made. In March 1915 with a group of Sepastatsi compatriots he escaped the deportation order and after a horrific odyssey, they arrived in Tbilisi. In the ensuing mayhem, Murad lost his family and his relatives but he never wavered from his calling in the defense of his people. He participated in the ensuing battles that laid the foundation of the present day Armenia.  He was killed during the Battle of Baku on August 4, 1918.
Literary critics hail Taniel Varoujan as one of the most eminent poets who graced our literature. In the last book he had published, “Pagan Songs” (Pagan Songs (Հեթանոս երգեր, 1912, Constantinople), Varoujan had a poem titled “Pegasus” (Pegas). It is claimed that he dedicated that poem to his compatriot Murad of Sepastia likening Murad’s famous horse Asdghig to the mythical winged horse Pegasus. The diary Murad kept and the inscriptions he jotted down showed that Murad harbored a poet’s tender heart. Apparently, the poet harbored a rifle in his heart while the freedom fighter harbored poetry attracting one to the other as two other immortals in our tumultuous history.