ANTIOCHIANS

I just finished reading a book titled “THE ANTIOCHIANS”.

It is a 312 pages long novel, written by Dr. Albert. S. Apelian (1893- 1986) and published by Vintage Press New York. 1960. (I managed to get a used copy of the book through Amazon).

The book is dedicated to his daughter “Karen, who, like a belated rose, appeared in my garden in autumn of my life”

The author, the son of Dr. Soghomon and Ovsanna Apelian, was born in Kessab Syria, Nov. 4. 1893. (Kessab is an Armenian populated town/village in northwestern Syria).

Both father and son are graduates of the Medical School of American University of Beirut (A.U.B). The father, Dr. Soghomon Apelian (1868 – 1945) became the medical officer of Antioch. (Antioch is about 80 kilometer from Kessab and at the time was the administrative center of the region).

Although the author was born in Kessab, Syria, but he spent his early childhood in Antioch, and I assume that is why he titled the novel ANTIOCHIANS.

The book in part is the “fictionalized” biography of the author and his father, and in part, the tragic deportations and massacres of the Armenians during the Armenian genocide between 1908 and 1920, and in part, author’s life in Belmont Massachusetts in USA from 1922 till his death 1986.

Here is what author writes about the novel. “Despite its historic background and the true-to-life picture of Armenian people, places, and customs, THE ANTIOCHIANS is a work of fiction from beginning to end”. And then adds the following, “Since it is international in its appeal, this narrative is liberally spiced with foreign words and phrases, most of which are easily understandable when taken in context”.

This, in a way, indicates that, the author wrote the book not only for the English speaking Armenians, but also, for the English readers at large, specially in USA. (His daughter Aileen writes “My Father sent copies of the ANTIOCHIANS novel to all U.S. senators so that they will better understand the Armenians. (My translation from a book titled ՔԷՍԱՊ ԵՒ ԻՐ ԳԻՒՂԵՐԸ by the same author written in — 1913 and published in — 2002. )

Here is also what the author writes about his writing carrier. ” In any rate I have been actively engaged in the art of healing since 1917, when I was graduated from Medical School of the American University in Beirut Lebanon, I have found time to do quite a bit of writing in Turkish, Armenian, and English. Four volumes dealing with medical subjects were published in Armenian, several decades ago; more recently, four of my short novels have been published—also in Armenian; in addition, numerous short stories in English and Armenian have appeared in various periodicals”.

(In the book titled ՔԷՍԱՊ ԵՒ ԻՐ ԳԻՒՂԵՐԸ that I mentioned above, there is also a lists of some of the un-published works of the author that includes, 3 novels, 3 translated novels, 1 play, a memoir, and 2 medical books. Quite an achievement indeed for a — practicing professional medical doctor “engaged in the art of healing“. He used also the pen name. Էբիլէնց, Epilents).

Since I have no intention, or the ability, to write a book review of the novel, it is suffice to say that, it was a pleasure to read the book. It is well written and the author is a good story teller. I say story teller due to the fact that, as a fellow kessabtsi, some of the characters and the locations seemed so familiar to me that, it read like a – story.

Recently I also read the book ՔԷՍԱՊ ԵՒ ԻՐ ԳԻՒՂԵՐԸ that I mentioned above. This book is Dr. Albert. S. Apelian’s graduation decertation from Ayntab College in 1913 when he was only 20 years old. He dedicated the book to the memory of his beloved teacher Prof. H. A. Bezjian at Ayntab College. “ԾՕՆ. Փրոֆ. Յ. Ա. Պէզճեանի անմահ յիշատակին”.

The book is edited by Yervant. H. Kassouny, and published in 2002 — 89 years later, in Beirut Lebanon. The financial support of the publication came from the author’s nephew, Krikor Hakimian (Apelian).

ՔԷՍԱՊ ԵՒ ԻՐ ԳԻՒՂԵՐԸ is a 256 pages long and probably is the first try of a written history about Kessab and Kessbatsis.

The book consist of 3 parts. Part1, is about the History and Geography of Kessab. Part 2 is about the Social Life and Traditions, and Part 3 is about the Language of Kessab. The book has also a hand drawn map of Kessab and its villages, and a page of the young author’s beautiful hand writing, and 25 pages of pictures.

Some of the pictures show the “good old” Kessab that I remember as a young boy, including the historical sites that I have seen, the landscapes and the mountains that I have climbed, and the school that I attended as a grade 4. 5. 6 student during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Needless to say, that building, the wooden 2 story Protestant school and church, does not exist any more.

The young author has done some historical research available to him at the time. But, more extensive research has been done by the editor of the book, Yervant H Kassouny. He is a qualified Historian with a PHD from Yerevan State University in Armenia. (There are 66 NOTATIONS “ԾԱՆՕԹԱԳՐՈՒԹԻՒՆՆԵՐ” by the editor that covers — 114 pages of the book). In large part he supplements the research done by the 20 year author, and make the book a well written, well researched, and well documented book.

The first part of the book is full of assumptions, and probabilities about the origin and history of Kessab, starting from — Dikran the Great (95 – 55 BC) and continues through the historic times to the present. Here is what the young author writes. “Ուստի մեր պատմականը պիտի ըլլայ հաւաքածոյ մը վստահելի ենթադրութիւններու եւ թէօրիաներու(Therefore our historiography will be a collection of reliable assumptions and theories)

Here is also a quote from Yervant H Kassouny, about the origin of the Kessab.

Եւ հոս պիտի ընդգծել թէ հայ գաղթականութեան մեծ մասնագէտը Ա. Ալպոյաճեան կը համաձայնի բնագրի հեղինակին Ա. Աբէլեանին որ գրած է «Քեսապի պատմութիւնը նոր է բաղտատաբար: Ան կը սկսի ԺԵ դարու կէսին ու կը շարունակէ ցայսօր»: (Here we need to be underline that the great specialist of the Armenian deportations A. Alboyajian do agree with the author of the text A. Apelian who has written Kessab history is relatively new. It starts from mid XV century and continues till today).

Unlike the other scenarios, the editor does not dispute this scenario. Since the assumptions and the probabilities are the “norm” let us — assume that, the — probable date of the origin of Kessab is — mid XV century?.

Second part of the book narrates and highlights the social life and traditions, of the Kessabtsis as witnessed and lived by the 20 year old author. He describes the engagement and wedding traditions, the religious practices and traditions, the school system, personal relationships, etc. and he does it eloquently and in a impeccable Armenian language. Quite an accomplishment for a 20 year old student indeed.

He also highlights some of the social characteristics of kessabtsis and does it very candidly. Here is what he says “Որեւէ ժողովուրդի ուսումնասիրութիւնը, անկողմնակալ եւ բազմակողմանի ըլլալու է” (Any peoples study must be unbiased and versatile) He remains true to this statement throughout the book.

In the third part of the book, the young author writes about the local dialect, the language. Here the 20 year old student comes through like an — experienced — language teacher.

His knowledge of the grammar comes through when he writes about the conjugation, the vowels, the plurals, the foreign words, etc. Specially so, for a language that — never been written or thought at any school.

The young author in his epilogue ՎԵՐՋԱԲԱՆ writes. Գոհացուցի՞չ է այս գրուածքը: Ընթերցողը պիտի վճռէ ու պիտի գնահատէ: (Is this writing satisfactory?. It is the reader that will decide and appreciate). For this reader, it is more than satisfactory, and highly appreciated. Thank you.

Let me thank also the well qualified historian, Yervant H Kassouny, and Mr. Krikor Hakimian (Apelian) for publishing this excellent book.

Let me finish by adding some commonly used conversational phrases from the Kessab dialect that I learned by listening and talking to my parents, grand parents, relatives, friends etc. when I grew up in Kessab as a young boy. Needless to say all by my fading memory

Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian

ՆՄՈՒՇ ՄԸ ՔԷՍՍԱՊԻ ԲԱՌԲԱՌԷՆ

Խոսինք Քեսապերէն — Քէսպնօք զուրցինք:

Ես Քեսապցի եմ — Իս Քէսպցա իմ: Իմ անունը ——— Իմ էնէօ նը ———-

Բարեւ քեզ — Բերիվ քի: Բարեւ ձեզԲերիվ ձի: ((Յոգնակի)

Ինչպէս ես — Չոց իս: Լաւ եմ — Աղուր իմ: Կսեն նաեւ տաշատ իմ:

Ինչպէս էք Չոց էք: Լաւ ենք Աղուր ինք: (Յոգնակի)

Ինչ կը շինես — Չէ հա շինիս: Կաշխատիմ — Հա դետէմ:

Ինչ կա չկա — Չէ կու չի կու: Ոչինչ — Նա բիւն մը:

Ինչ կընես — Չէ հայինիս: Ոչ մէկ բան — Նա բիւն մը:

Կը կարդամ —Հա կարդում: Կը գրեմ — Հա գրիմ:

Կը պտըտիմ — Հա վիլվեմ: Կը վազեմ — Հա վէզիմ:

Ինչ գործ կնես — Չէ բուն կինիս: Ես ուսուչիչ եմ — Իս խօճա իմ

Ես ուսուչուհի եմ — Իս վարժի իմ: Ես ատաղծագործ եմ — Իս նաճոր իմ

Ուր կերթաս — Եո հայուրթոս: Շուկա կերթամ — Չարշէն հայուրթում:

Ճաշարան կերթամ — Լոքանթան հայուրթում:

Դպրոց կերթամ — Մակդապը հայուրթում: Եկեղէցի Կերթամ — Կղցէն հայուրթում:

Գրադարան պիտի երթամ — Գրադխանան պըր ուրթում:

Անունդ ինչ է — Էնէոնիդ չէ ի: Որուն տղան ես — Օմ տղան իս: Աղջիկ — Իշկէն

Ամուսնացած ես? — Կերգըվոյծ իս: Այո — Հօվը –Ոչ — Չիյը:

Ասիկա իմ կինս է — Աս իմ կնէյն նի: Ասկա իմ ամուսինս է — Աս իմ մէօրդն նի:

 Ասիկա իմ նշանածն է — Աս իմ նշէնէօծ նի Շնորհաւոր ըլլայ — Շնըֆուր ընու

Պիտի Ամուսնանամ — պըր կէրգվեմ Որուն հետ — Օմ հիտը

Ասիկա մեր հարսն է — Աս միր հօրս նի Ասիկա մեր փեսան է — Աս միր փիսան նի

Ասիկա իմ կնքահայրս է– Աս իմ պէօպ նի Ասիկա իմ կնքամայրս է– Աս իմ մում նի

Ինչպէս ես ընկեր — Չոցիս շպէն Ասիկա իմ զարմիկն է — Աս իմ ամմօղլէն նի

Ով է քու հայրդ — Ուվ ի քու տէոտ ը: Ով է քու մեծ հայրը — Ուվ ի քու պէպօ յը:

Ով է քու մայրդ — Ուվ ի քու մարը: Ով է քու մեծ մայրդ — Ուվ ի քու նանար ը:

Մեր տունը — Միր տէօն ը: Մեր պարտէզը — Միր պաղչան:

Դաշտը — Թարլան: Ձորը — Խէնտոյը: Հեռու — Հառռօ

Ցորէն — Ցիրին: Ջուր — Ջէօր: Ալիւր — Իլէր Հաց — Հէօց:

Եփել — Իփիլ: Կրակ — Կրէօկ: Գաւազան — Վէրուց

Խնձոր — Խնծիւր: Խաղող — Խաղուղ: Թուզ — Թէօզ

Բարի լույս — Բարլոս: Գիշեր Բարի — Գիշիր բարա:

Դուռը գոցէ — Դօռ ը փէկի: Վերջացաւ — Թմիցով

Նորէն կը տեսնուինք — Կինա կը տսնվենք: Թերեւս — Պէլքի

Կարգը քուկդ է — Նոպը քոն նի:

Գրեց — Գրից

Զօհրապ Պէպօ Սարգիսեան.

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