Mary’s Story: “The call of the blood . . .”

The eyes glimmering with the tears behind the big spectacles gaze into the past. Mary Davtyan pats her father’s picture and remembers the bitter days of her childhood.

“My father and I were all alone in the world; my poor father had lost his three sisters, two brothers and my beautiful young mother,” remembers 95-year-old Mary.

For Mary the Genocide of 1915 began with her mother’s death: “I was five, my mother was young, eighteen or nineteen, and very beautiful. She went in the night to say goodbye to her parents, because we were going to flee in the morning. Just in front of the door the Turks caught her, assaulted her, my grandparents went out to save her: everybody was put to the sword.”

So the mother of the family stayed forever in her native Sebastia, and Mary and her father took the way of refuge.

“I can recall it like a dream. I was terribly hungry, my feet were bleeding, and I was tired and would cry all the time asking for my mother.”

In the memories of childhood mother remained like a dream – beautiful and unreachable –as if she will come out of the mob of the fleeing refugees soon, approach and save her baby.

“When I cried too much my father would say ‘mother will soon come, she will soon reach us’, and I would believe,” her kind sad eyes staring frozen into the distance, where the memories of childhood have been lost.

“Young girls in those times did everything to seem ugly to Turks. The Turks would illuminate the women’s faces one by one and would take away the beautiful ones. The grandmother of my son’s wife remembers how the Turks wanted to take away her sister. They had grinded her three-year-old child with a wheat mill; she hanged herself on her own long hair to escape being taken by Turks.”

Her voice trembles, and Mary is silent before continuing: “We were saved; we got onboard a ship and reached Greece.”

The refugees who went through the struggle between life and death set new life in Greece. Mary’s father got married and the child who lost her mother regained a mother’s warmth.

“We had just healed the wounds of the genocide when the new war – World War Two – began. Bombardments, hunger, spending days in hiding. But I got married during those terrible days: we celebrated the wedding secretly, in the dark room with windows covered with cloths. If we had light we would have been shelled,” she laughs, remembering the heroism of her youth.

The family that had escaped the genocide returned to its homeland in 1947, built its home here, reared children and grandchildren.

Nevertheless for Mary the miracle was not the escape from the Genocide but the fact that she managed to find her aunts. “My father thought a lot about his sisters and brothers. He didn’t know if they survived or if they had been slaughtered.”

“We had a neighbor who knew our story. Once on a business trip to France the neighbor met Armenians who gathered in the house he was hosted in. They would talk about the Genocide. One of them told about his lost brother Onik. They did not know whether Onik was alive or not. Learning the family name helped them understand they had found their elder brother lost in childhood.”

The meeting of the sisters and the brother took place in 1960 in Yerevan after forty five long years.

“When people came down the plane, my Grandpa said: ‘Over there, she is my sister.’ He ran across the barriers and ran to the plane,” tells Hovhannes Davtyan, Mary’s son. “The people in the airport were crying. He couldn’t remember her face, but it was the call of the blood, he said, I knew she is my sister.”

Mary strokes the picture of her father and her regained aunt and says happily: “I am glad they found each other, at least they died in peace.”

Mary still waits for her peace. And believes. “Turkey will recognize what it did. How can they tell there has been no Genocide! Was it a dream to us? Who then killed my mother?”