Apigian-Kessel: Reader Mailbag

Ah, those passionate, hot-blooded Armenians. Their temperatures rise, rightfully so, freely displaying their angst and sorrow, coupled with unabashed disappointment at the behavior of their fellow countrymen. The object of some of their anger? Armenians residing in Istanbul, Turkey.

A concerned reader writes: It’s bad enough that after four years Armenians are still waiting for justice to be served in the cowardly shooting in Istanbul of Agos’s editor Hrant Dink. The photo of his lifeless body on the ground covered with papers in front of his newspaper office, with only his shoed feet exposed, remains forever embedded in our minds.” The martyred Dink was a civilized man trying to build peaceful dialogue between Turks and Armenians.

Another irate reader sent me a recent article about an Armenian-Turkish couple marrying in Trebizond after six years of waiting because of “bureaucratic obstacles.” (Remember Trebizond, the city of romance, where the Turks drowned 15,000 Armenians in the Black Sea during World War I?)

The groom was a widower with four children and an ill mother. The bride’s sister had introduced them and they had fallen in love, with the Armenian woman agreeing to marry him, producing two children prior to the civil marriage.

It is said the Armenian bride converted to Islam after succumbing to the sound of the azan and watching her Muslim husband praying; ditto her mother. All apparently are living happily ever after.

But not my reader. His note with the subject line “WHAT A CROCK” followed on the footsteps of yet another Armenian-Turkish marriage I was notified of. So I posed the following question to him: “Am I to understand you do not approve of this marriage?” His reply: “ANSHOOSHT” (Of course not). I attached a copy of my recent column asking him if he thought the marriage issue would be upsetting to me.

He responded, “Yes, Hamagir of the Year. I did think this would upset you. I read your column and you are right on. I know the Hyes over there must be under extreme pressure but that would only seem to make them more resistant to this type of thing, one would think.”

Another debate has been started by a Turkish writer who questions the fact that most of the beautiful architecture in Turkey was accomplished by Armenians and Greeks. He asks that someone showcase the works of Turkish architects as proof to the contrary.

A reader addresses that issue by stating: “Many Turks are continuing the state mentality. They always deny that anybody else had any contribution to their culture. For centuries Turks excelled in warfare, not arts or architecture. Instead of downgrading the Armenian and Greek architects, they should try to have a similar exhibition of Turkish architects of the same Ottoman era if they can.”

They can never erase the fact that Armenian architects of five generations of Balyans (Balian) were imperial architects during the 18th and 19th centuries, or that the names of Sinan and Manuel remain prominent in Turkish architectural history.

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Taken from the Yerevan Scope travel handbook: “Zorats Kar or Karahunj believed to be an ancient observatory quite similar to Stonehenge in England. The columns sit like soldiers on a hill, huddled in formation. The 204 stones near Sissian have been ascribed with mystical, fertility and cosmic powers, but rarely have ancient monuments caused such a sensation in astronomical circles.”

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Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty (Serpouhie) Apigian Kessel was born in Pontiac, Mich. Together with her husband, Robert Kessel, she was the proprietor of Woodward Market in Pontiac and has two sons, Bradley and Brant Kessel. She belonged to the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild for 12 years, serving as secretary for many of those years. During the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Detroit community selected her to be the English-language secretary and she happily dedicated her efforts to help the earthquake victims. She has a column in the Armenian Weekly entitled “Michigan High Beat.”

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