Ellen Sarkisian Chesnut | Deli Sarkis: The Scars He Carried

Amid The Ruins

Zabel-Yessayan“I long to see my Cilicia once more and ride the waves of river Arax and gaze at snow capped Mount Alagiaz again…” Sung by Nazareth Spenchian, Rev. Haroutiun Jenanyan and Gabriel Baghdoyan, gazing at the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California in the late 1800s.

A G A I N   A G A I N    A N D   A G A I N.

Another mass killing of Armenians by the Turks. This time, it’s in Adana in 1909, with 30,000 dead. Writer, Zabel Yessayan (b. 1878 Scutari, Constantinople, d. gulag in Siberia, in 1943), visits the city and writes, Amid the Ruins.

She’s already an acclaimed writer, fierce and outspoken and on the hit list of the fascist group, The Committee of Union and Progress aka The Young Turks.

In 1915, Armenian intellectuals and leaders are arrested, sent away, tortured and killed. Zabel escapes to Bulgaria. Constantly on the move, she ends up in Armenia, one of the Soviet Socialist Republics.

She so loves her people and Armenia that she does not heed the warning signs of yet another repressive regime. Her writings are too provocative for the authorities and she is arrested in 1937.

She dies in exile in Siberia in 1943.

Zabel needs to be read by people who appreciate great writing. Her most admired work is the autobiographical, The Gardens of Silihdar. It is now in a new English translation by Jennifer Manoukian.

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