My visit to our ancestral home of Gudina, Kutahya
Oday, in Gudina Kutahya,, I walked the streets where my grandparents Neshan & Takouhi had walked with my other grandparents Ohan & Manoushag. I passed by the decaying homes of the Armenian and Greek neighborhood where one of them might have been theirs.
Strolled through the beautiful quiet abandoned streets where our beloved composer Komitas must surely have walked and passed by my ancestors whom would have acknowledged each others presence with a “pari louys ” good morning or a ” Pari kisher” good evening.
Unfortunately it was dead silent of any Armenian presence or spirit. Even the beautiful Kutahya Ceramics Museum did not mention a single word of Armenian contribution, name or history where almost 60 % of the ceramic artisans were of Armenian heritage. No Balian, no Karakashians and no Ohanessians who later kept this unique Armenian heritage alive in foreign lands.
I felt a systematic effort to erase any Armenian presence in this city where our people had thrived for so many years. Churches turned to Mosques( a deed whom my good Arab Muslim friends would not dare to do ) and into cinema halls and then erased.
In my meeting with various local individuals I met very nice and generous people and some who became wary of my presence in their city. People who showed generosity and people who showed slight fear behind their facade of being normal to an Armenian who came to visit his ancestor’s land.
When I asked government officials as to where my grandfather’s homes would be, I was met with a blank reply that this can be answered only with an official request to government bodies. My intention was to feel the presence of my familie’s spirit and not to claim any property.
I left the city with some new friends who put my Armenianism aside and treated me as another human being and some who were probably happy to see me leave.
Gudina Kutahya has become a large vibrant industrial city but abundant with extreme nationalism and lost its spirit of multiculturalism. My wife asked me if I had found the house where my grandfather lived up for sale…” will you buy it ? ” my answer on the first day would have been a resounding yes but after spending a day in Gudina, I am afraid my dream of the beautiful Gudina Kutahya whom my parents had instilled in me has been shattered with this new version of the city.
I will remember the quiet delapitated Armenian streets, the trees where my grandparents sat under and the echo of the mesmerising voice of our beloved Komitas singing Dele Yama. Adieu Kutahya .
May the spirits of my ancestors rest in peace and with the satisfaction that one of their children came back and paid them his respects….after 100 years.
I can hear or imagine them saying ” Neshan our son, thank you for visiting us, for continuing our heritage in foreign lands and for spreading it worldwide ….including our tiny Armenia “….till we all meet again.