29. September 2015 · Comments Off on devastation · Categories: Uncategorized
  • Destitute and fire

    Khelj ou guhrag (shabiguh guhrag)
    The literal translation of this saying is destitute and fire.

    Bereft persons are described as unfortunate and on fire (or having a shirt on fire). Wearing a shirt that is on fire is a picture of dire devastation and personal harm. The phrase khelj ou guhrag is used to express the condition of people who are completely helpless in their misfortune and utterly devastated.

    The story of my mother left as an orphan after the Turkish massacre of Armenians. She was born in Malatia, Turkey. Her story is a good example of this proverb.

    Sometime in April, 1915 the government of the Ottoman Empire began the systematic massacre of their Armenian population and forced marches of survivors. My mother’s father was jailed along with many other Armenian men of Malatia. She remembers taking him lunch to the jail. After some days, he disappeared. He was brutally killed along with all the able bodied men of Malatia. The local police and Turkish army officers issued an order that all Armenians should leave their homes. They were to be transferred to Del el Zor, a town in the Syrian Desert about 1000 miles south of Malatia.

    All the men were murdered. Actually they had been taken out of town and massacred by the regular Turkish army and left in mass graves. The remaining women, children, and elderly were forced to pack up whatever they could carry and get ready to leave. Imagine the panic and hopelessness of the women who were without the protection of their husbands and at the mercy of Turkish soldiers or irregular troops
    and marauding tribes of Mountain Kurds who were often criminals. The forced march was a nightmare of robbery, rape, kidnapping, sickness, hunger, thirst, brutality, and death. The women and children were constantly harassed by their guards and bestial Kurdish men. Somehow my mother survived the march to Del el Zor. On arriving, her mother died in her arms and she was left an orphan in the streets of the desert town. Her condition was khelj ou guhrak.

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