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 third extract, published here below, is the first letter by Arshaluys Yousuf to the Assyrian Five Association (pp. 331–333). __________________________ Letter One—To the Assyrian Five Association Esteemed leaders, Receiving the booklet which you have published in memory of Ashur Effendi filled my heart with profound gratitude. Yes, our wound cannot be healed and our loss is irremediable. I have wept for four and a half years and will continue to weep till the last breath of my life. I wish I knew where his remnants lie, so I could wet that patch of earth with my tears, and plant roses and violets around it. O, clouds, drip dew drops in lieu of my tears. May the tired, battered head of my beloved—the head in which were stored projects for the advancement of his nation and children—rest in peace. May I be forgiven for adding a bouquet of my own to the garland you have woven. With Ashur’s death, the Assyrian people lost not only a genuine patriot, but an outstanding leader as well. Unlike many among us, I am keenly aware of the plight of our nation. In view of the troubles that face our community today, I see its state of shepherdlessness, and my heart breaks. I also see deception and injustice in many instances. Ashur should have lived. And he particularly should have been alive now. Our nation lost its only truthful advocate; my children lost, at their tender ages, a wonderful father —extraordinarily intelligent, hard-working, and self-sacrificing; and I lost a husband who loved with a magnanimous and sacred devotion. It was the bright morning of May 1, 1915. To me and all Assyrians, however, it was the dawn of a dark and dreadful night. Suddenly our home was surrounded by a pack of blood-thirsty Turkish policemen. They started to search the house. They combed through our belongings, beginning with the woodshed and the cellar, turning everything upside down, and came up empty. Finally, the officer in charge pulled a bundle of letters out of the desk drawer and exclaimed, “Here it is! We found it.” With this, they encircled poor Ashur, brandishing their bayoneted rifles, and took him to prison. Before he left, Ashur murmured a few barely audible words whose echoes still haunt me. “Farewell, Arshaluys,” he said. “Don’t be sad. God is merciful.” That was all. And then, with his head down, he was led away. I cried and screamed. No one heard me. In vain did I try every possible means to secure his release. I ran here and there, met with every prominent individual in the city, whether they were beys, effendis, or kaymakams, and fell to my knees, crying, begging, beseeching. They were all moved by the sight of my miserable state, yet all they could do was offer empty consolations. “Don’t cry, my dear,” they would say. “It’s nothing. We’ll get him out in a few days.” The days passed, and the weeks rolled by, until the beginning of the period when the prisoners were subjected to merciless beatings. As I discovered this, I took my 15-year-old son and went to the governor’s office, desperate for help. Alas, the governor was away. Instead I came across the wife of Mr. Ehmann. I fell to my knees as I saw her, my voice drowning in my wailing tears. “Your Excellency,” I said to her, “you are our Queen Esther! Please be the liberator of my poor and long-suffering nation, and your name will be blessed century after century.” With much tenderness and compassion, she took my hands, lifted me up, and said, “Yes, I know Mr. Ashur is innocent. I’m hopeful that the governor will order his release. I will talk to the governor the next time I see him.” Nothing was to come of it. Thus my poor prisoner waited and waited, as no one would extend a helping hand. “Please, Arshaluys, find a solution,” Ashur kept telling me. I had neither money nor valuable jewelry or carpets to dazzle the venal Turkish officials. I didn’t stop crying and complaining to God. Yet God remained indifferent to my entreaties. Then came the revolting, horrific night of June 22. The prisoners were taken out of the dingy prison, tied together, and escorted to a death field in Urfa, to be massacred. This is all I know. Since then, there have been several rumors that Ashur was still alive. But now your booklet has dashed my hopes once and for all. To the person who has signed “French,” I ask, Please, can you tell me where it was that you witnessed Ashur’s slaughter? I beg you, reveal the location of his holy grave, for I wish to be buried next to him. Yes, there can be no consolation for the loss of such a noble and devoted man. I will find myself consoled only the day that I see and hear about the burgeoning and renewed vibrancy of Murshid Athuriyon among the nation which my husband worshipped. May Murshid help give birth to Intibais and Babylons, and with them illuminate the individuals and aspects of our nation that still languish in darkness. May long live these endeavors, and may they enjoy the nation’s love and celebrate the liberty of the homeland. I thank our people as a whole, all the men and women engaged in community activism, and, in particular, the Assyrian Five Association. May your work live forever. In mourning, Arshaluys A. Yousuf Undated, circa late 1919 or early 1920; Published in Babylon, March 1920 (MARA) __________________________ Order your copy of ‘Bloodied, but Unbowed: A Memoir of the Ashur & Arshaluys Yousuf Family‘, by Alice Nazarian here.