For Nineveh Press’s readers and followers, we are publishing a series of selected extracts from the book ‘Bloodied, but Unbowed: A Memoir of the Ashur & Arshaluys Yousuf Family’, by Alice Nazarian.
The first extract, published here below, is a tribute to Ashur Yousuf by Maritsa Tarkhan (pp. 266–268).
This tribute was originally published in Armenian in the Assyrian Five booklet from 1919. It is not until the publication of this book that this tribute and the other texts in the above mentioned booklet are translated and published in English.
Ashur Effendi S. Yousuf
(On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of his death)
I find myself overcome by a latent sense of shock when I think that four years ago, in 1915, Ashur Effendi S. Yousuf, together with his many colleagues, lived days of horror and uncertainty, and was soon to be forever separated from us. For all those who knew him, it’s still hard to believe that he has crossed the horizon. The Assyrian people lost a great man, and his death has left a void which only time will be able to fill. Only rarely has nature produced individuals of his caliber.
Ashur taught grammar and calligraphy, among other subjects, at Euphrates College. His unrivaled mastery of the Armenian language and calligraphy was widely admired, both within and beyond school circles. The big, beautiful Armenian letters which he had designed and made with his own hands decorated the walls of his classrooms and were used to teach his students reading and writing. Ashur’s pedagogical work was complemented by his wonderful literary output, which comprised engaging and instructive articles that were published in the national and foreign press, as well as poems that were noted for their sublime elegance and philosophical depth. He was also fluent in English.
Ashur was a passionate patriot and an outstanding national activist. His deep concern for the future of his people and his dedication to its advancement were what impelled him to publish Murshid Athuriyon. He paid for its operation and publication out of his own pocket, and worked as its manager, editor, and main writer, in pursuit of the goal of raising political, social, cultural, and moral awareness among his readers. Ashur was a sharp observer and critic of Assyrian public affairs. Despite the fact that his powerful, at times scathing, editorials and essays often made enemies, he never once shirked from putting his finger on the issues of his day.
Nevertheless, Ashur was friendly and at peace with everyone around him and his community as a whole. He was always fair and unbiased—to speak the truth, no matter how unpalatable, was his uncompromising motto. This is why he never had trouble resolving moral quandaries.
His visitors often found him absorbed in thought, with his head bowed over his desk. He devoted much of his free time to reflection and writing. Although physical stress and financial woes frequently threatened to hamper his work, his sheer willpower helped him pull through. His knowledge was always expanding, always dynamic. Like a life-giving river, it irrigated the souls of his fellow Assyrians. Indeed, the Assyrian people had much to expect from Ashur Yousuf, and he was only too glad to deliver.
Ashur loved simplicity. His house was neat and clean, devoid of expensive furnishings or decorations. His small bookcase, placed in a corner of his room, was the lone ornament of his home.
Ashur and his spouse, Arshaluys, built an exemplary family. A marvelous wife and mother, Arshaluys was also a woman of considerable erudition. As she shared her husband’s cultural, educational, and political vision and concerns, she, too, tirelessly helped raise public awareness of various issues, particularly among Assyrian women.
Ashur Effendi had planned a great many projects and programs which he hoped to implement under a just future government. None, of course, saw the light of day.
The Assyrian people still very much needed Ashur Yousuf. They needed his writings, wisdom, and patriotism. And although his death meant an irreparable loss to the Assyrian nation, he lives on in our grateful hearts.
It is with reverence that we remember his noble character and extraordinary deeds. May his bones rest in peace.
April 1, 1919
Order your copy of ‘Bloodied, but Unbowed: A Memoir of the Ashur & Arshaluys Yousuf Family‘, by Alice Nazarian here.