I’m neither an ebru nor a tessera∗; nor am I ‘a color of Anatolia!’

by Talin Suciyan

Talin Suciyan

First you made me into a tessera in your mosaic of cultures just to be able to put up with me. But soon you found that too static and then you resorted to the image of ebru. Whether an ebru or a tessera, you all agreed that I was ‘a color of Anatolia.’ Yet, I’m neither your ebru nor your tessera, nor am I a color of your Anatolia. I know that I can acquire a color only if I’m dead and gone, mute and traceless; more colorful I become as you further destroy my history.

I’m neither your ebru nor your tessera, nor am I a color of your Anatolia. ‘What are you then?’ you might ask. I’m the child of the remnants of sword; the daughter of women whose bodies have been ravaged; the daughter of a people which many times has been forced to exile and whose traces have been erased throughout the last century from the land it had lived in for millennia. I’m the daughter of a people which has been captivated, alienated from itself, subjugated, and whose existence as well as extermination have been denied, and temples, schools, foundations, even the hearts and minds of its members have been turned inside out. They call me a Turkish Armenian.

On April 24th an Armenian died (shot dead) in  barracks. The Armenians knew from their guts what that meant. But the minister for EU affairs Egemen Bagis says that ‘our brother Sevak represents the colors of Anatolia.’ Bagis is right; a dead Armenian is always ‘our brother!’ And yes, we do represent a color: A deep, bottomless black. An infinite black!

Sevak’s pitch-black eyes are staring at us; Sevak is draped in the blackest of all colors. Will you be able to look into those eyes without that gibberish about food, folk songs, and brotherhood?

Don’t try to feel the suffering that has lasted a century. However, you can understand the oppression we were subjected to at Sevak’s funeral ceremony; how the church has been taken away from its congregation and the funeral from its rightful owners; and just by looking at the archbishop’s post-service speech, you can understand how the Armenians remaining in Turkey have been sentenced to pay a perennial price for their survival. Don’t expect us to talk any longer for words stand in front of us and laugh mockingly as we try harder to tell. Share in this loneliness.

* The two images that are most commonly used in the discourse of the so-called ethno-cultural diversity in Turkey are ebru and mosaic. Ebru is the art of paper marbling in which a special kind of paper is laid onto the water in a square or a rectangular tank to ‘record’ the intertwined figures and lines in different colors floating on the surface. The other image envisions each ethnic group in the country as a tessera, which, in combination with the others, creates a mosaic. In both cases it is assumed that the artwork that comes into being represents Turkey itself. (T.N.)

(This article has been published in Agos Weekly, Nr.787, translated by Serhat Uyurkulak)

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