Kessab, you are gone and won’t be again.
Everyone is angry. Or sad. Perhaps even in disbelief.
Was it a surprise that Armenians were once again attacked in their home? Did it not happen 600 years ago? 125 years ago? 100 years ago? 10 years ago? One year ago?
It was the Turks. No, it was the Arabs. Maybe both? Does it matter? You are no longer there.
And now we arrive at the place we were before, during, after genocide: demand justice for us, the peaceful Armenian. The helpless Armenian. The starving Armenian. The other will help. The other must help. We wronged no one so why must we be wronged? We continue to wait for the answer of God, Europe, or America. Whichever. We are waiting.
Because now that Kessab is emptied of its Armenians, now that its buildings are ransacked, now that it has been polluted, now that we may watch it crumble before our eyes, now that it will be no more, we are furious!
No amount of closed doors, no amount of unheard prayers, no amount of unheeded calls to moral authority will stop us because our resilience knows no bounds.
As we demand and as we wait, they will hold their guns and their bombs and they will tempt us to take what is ours. And they will hold us prisoner in our churches. And if we are fortunate, they will burn us there so that we may not carry the burden of remembering our failings. Or learning, like the smart beast.
But if we are alive, we will demand and we will wait.
And we will forget. Just as we have forgotten before.
We remember the names, yes, but we have forgotten the lessons. We remember Hayrig and Raffi, Siamanto and Tekeyan, Nzhdeh and Monte. For what?
Did they not warn us? Did they not warn our forefathers? Who were we to ignore them, to soil their names by remembering but their names?
Idyllic Kessab, full of tradition, yet no more than the cities that fell before you. When you lived you gave us a taste of what it must have been like. And when you died you gave us a taste of what it must have been like.
Van destroyed, Smyrna burned, Bitlis, Tigranakert, and Kars emptied, Shushi occupied. Yet we expected you to remain among a sea of others, protected, as though by a fortress or by guns – a fortress we never built and guns we never fired.
Alas, we were fooled, but by whom? The enemy we know cannot be more honest in his character – yet we blame him.
Now we sit, incredulous, aghast at the inhumanity of humanity, as though suffering from an incorrigible amnesia.
No matter, I think. Maybe they will let us rebuild a church or search for our cemetery buried underneath their animal waste or enjoy our homes that they will turn into the finest hotels.
And worry not because Kessab will rise again, a Nor Kessab will be built – on Hollywood Boulevard. Not Yerevan because that is not our homeland. Cilicia is our homeland. And you were the last piece of Cilicia and that is why you were our homeland and that is why it was really, very difficult to leave – at a moment’s notice.
You lived longer yet wisdom escaped you. I have no pity for you Kessab, and history is my solace. You did not deserve to be left alone but you can rejoice because it is fighters who have you now.
I will accept you as a sacrifice that will fertilize the memory of our clairvoyants and prophets, your death the elixir of their rebirth.
Because while you die, your enemy lives.
It is only yabanjos now who remain.