Context &
 & Atrocities
& Demands 
Dying Every Minute (Continued)

As they entered, one of the men got up walked across the room to the wall, bent down, and pushed a small sliding door open. A dark hole gaped in silence.

He called out in a harsh voice “...Come on out you dirty swine!”

No answer was heard from within. He came down to his knees and peeped into the hole. An offensive smell pinched his nose, and his nostrils quivered.

“...It’s to you I am talking! You dirty rat! What are you lying on your back for? Can’t you hear me?”

Again, he didn’t get an answer. Then, holding his breath, he stuck his head into the opening, and reaching with his right hand, he dragged something out; a shapeless mass of a human being.  He dragged him out by his leg to the center of the room, joining his men, who stood on each side of the dying unfortunate. He commanded: “...Ready!” The men uncoiled their long black lashes and let them lay a moment on the floor.  Then, to the rhythm of the sergeant’s harsh voice, they went into action “...One...Two...Three...Four...”

The lashes whined and cracked on the dying man’s body. They coiled and uncoiled like rattlesnakes and their black marks girdled his bare, emaciated and faintly breathing chest.

He couldn’t scream, nor cry.  He had no strength left for that.

After the sergeant reached the hundred and fiftieth time, he stopped, and with a disdainful motion of his hand, he said: “Drag him out and throw him into the ditch, with the others.” And turning to Mustapha, said with an ironical smile. “The floor is yours now...” And he left the room with his men.

Mustapha, a satanic glint in his eyes, took the stand, nodded to his men to get ready, and beckoned to Arsen to take the dying man’s place on the floor.

A few minutes later, they dragged him, unconscious, threw him in the dark hole and closed the door behind.

Mustapha suddenly remembered he had forgotten a very important matter and he hurried back to the hollow where the massacre had taken place.  He took a big stick from the bushes, stuck it into the ditch, and began pushing the corpses to one side, trying to discover Hasmik’s body.

The sun had gone down, and the dusk, like a thin black haze, covered the valley. The ditch was a gruesome sight.  Indescribable sounds came out of the disfigured , dismembered and bleeding bodies. Here an arm jerks spasmodically; there a leg. The muscle of an eye twitches, as if the dead persons were winking, and a lifeless convulsion breaks the thickening blood in the throat with muffled gurgles.

Someone stirred in the bushes. Mustapha turned and listened. He listened and slowly approached the suspected spot. His pistol in his hand, he got closer and peeped into the thick chaparral, then, with a broad smile on his face he stopped and looked at his men who were scurrying the countryside.

“...Here she is!...Right here!” Slowly, and dejectedly, Hasmik came to her feet, dishevelled and bloody.

He rode to the village, high in the mountains. He dismounted and carried her into a deserted house and flung her on the bed. She kicked and bit and scratched, and struggled violently.

He finally overpowered her.

Her unconscious state didn’t bother Mustapha...A moment later, he stood looking at the still unconscious body of Hasmik who lay on the bed. A fiendish smile curled the corners of his mouth.

“...It will take time to tame her...Just a little patience, and everything will be all right...” Then he curled his mustache and walked out humming a cheerful song.

The little village was situated in one of the upper recesses of Amanos ridges, overlooking a vast scene of deserted towns. He stood in front of his house and gazed at the desolate distance: at the fields with no workers, at the houses with no dwellers, at the churches with no worshippers, and chuckled.

An immeasurable mass of human avalanche was being rolled down to the burning sands of Arabia. An entire race was being thrown into the crackling flames.  Mustapha, remembered his dream and felt fine.

Months rolled on, and Mustapha would ride, now and then, with his men to surprise the rolling caravans, to rape the girls, to attack the women, and to kill anyone they pleased and come back with all their belongings.

In the meantime, Hasmik was getting bigger and bigger. She couldn’t conceal it any longer. Her eyes were red from continual weeping.

Many times she heard shrill screams from the village where she now lived. Many times, she saw Mustapha coming home with bloody hands and bloody clothes.

What has become of Arsen? Is he dead, like her mother and brother, or, is he still alive drifting along...No hope? How can she live without him?

She couldn’t bear to see Mustapha.  She couldn’t stand his voice. Every time he came home, she would go and hide herself in a dark corner of the house and cry.

He would drag her out, and would struggle to kiss her; but, she always kicked and struggled and scratched, and then fainted.

She could never go out alone. Always, someone spied on her. How she wished to be able to go out and throw herself from the cliff, into the precipice, and finish everything!...

he had become very big now...The fruit of the crime was ripening fast. The thought of it pained her, tortured her...But Mustapha was happy, and he anxiously waited for the birth...The birth of a boy...He even tried to be more humane toward her. But in vain. She just couldn’t stand the sight of him.

And a baby was born.  A son, who was named Ahmed, after Mustapha’s father. How happy he was!

A few days after the birth, the entire village celebrated the event. They ate and drank and danced. There was nobody in the house, but Hasmik and the baby. Outside, everybody was having fun. The shouts of the celebration pierced her heart like the blade of a knife. She couldn’t look at the baby’s face. His cries alone were enough to drive her mad. Who was he, anyway? Wasn’t he the little Mustapha?...How could she willingly let his filthy lips touch her breast?...They were not created to nurse him...They belonged to Arsen’s children...

A huge kettle of soup was boiling on the fire, and the flames leaped gracefully and licked its black sides.  Now and then, the boiling liquid would spill over the brim into the fire, hissing and crackling.

A thought flashed into her mind.  A dark thought.  She stared a moment, at the boiling soup, her nerves taut, her heart in suspense. She kept looking at it.  Her entire being was in the grip of a whirlpool.

The baby kept crying, from hunger.  Flashes leaped into her brain, like glares of lightning in a stormy night.

She got up, lifted the crying baby, walked toward the fire, and with a cold and merciless hatred in her eyes, she threw him into the boiling soup.

...Shrill screams...muffled sounds...the hiss of the spilled soup in the fire...everything was over.

Hasmik stealthily walked out of the house, plunged into the dark woods and disappeared.

Here, Vartan stopped with a yawn, put his diary back into his pocket and cast a tired look at the greying dawn.

The bugler suddenly sounded reveille and the legionnaires grouped on the deck.

“...Land!...Land!” exclaimed Arsen, who with his knapsack and rifle hanging carelessly from his shoulder, pushed his way through the packed deck toward Vartan.

“...What are you doing all by yourself?” he said.

“...I’ve been up all night...couldn’t sleep,” said Vartan.

“...I couldn’t sleep either.  How excited I am!”

“...The story of our experiences kept me awake...Part of them, I should say...I haven’t covered everything yet...like, how you escaped from the torture chamber in Islahie and how you came to join the French Foreign Legion on Cyprus Island.”

Arsen’s eyes became gloomy, and he looked silently at the bright outline of the Amanos mountains, bordering the Gulf of Alexandrette.

Strips of rosy clouds appeared in the east, and suddenly, flames of the rising sun splashed a huge fire upon the top of Musa Dagh.

It was cold and windy. White crested waves crashed against one another, and the ship plowed its way through the roaring surf toward the port of Alexandrette, in the shadow of the gigantic mountain.

The disembarkation took all morning.  The hustle and bustle subsided around noon, and the battalion marched out of Alexandrette toward Deurt-Yole. Creeks, ravines and a mantle of thick vegetation marked the way.

. Arsen and Vartan walked side by side. New sensations stirred within them. The air, the land, the sun, the sights made them feel entirely different.  It was behind these mountains, the tragic events took place two years ago.

...It was in the folds of these commanding ridges, where thousands of men, women and children had been massacred by the Turks, and left for the beasts. 

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Updated 7 June, 2000 ..
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