Father's Memoirs Published by Son: Takvor Hopyan’s Book About Armenian Genocide in Bolu
Cover photo: Gighmes Hopyan with relatives in Yerevan, 1967.
Writer Takvor Hopyan’s book «Armenian Resettlement of 1915: My Father's Memories» was recently published in the Turkish publishing house Puslu.
Hopyan, now residing in Canada, was born in Istanbul. After graduating the architectural faculty of Istanbul Technical University he and his family moved to Canada. His father Gighmes Hopyan was born in Bolu, in 1887. In 1915 during the Armenian Genocide Gighmes was captured in Nalihan, near Ankara, but he managed to escape and after that he started to write a book describing what he experienced during the genocide. In 1985 he died in Canada, but before his death he tasked his son to collect and publish his memoirs. Releasing the book this way Takvor satisfied his father's last will.
In this article we asked Takvor Hopyan questions about the book and about the important historical dates for Armenians of Bolu.
Let's begin from the Armenians of Bolu. Unfortunately, there is too little information in the Turkish literature sources about the Armenian population of Bolu. As far as we can learn from the book, Armenians have begun to settle down in this place from the 13th century. Serving as evidence can be the Biblical manuscript, which says that Armenians came to Bolu from Karabakh. The book states that the Bible was sent to Armenia after 1920. Where is the manuscript now? Have the historians ever asked that question?
First off I would like to clarify the question related to Karabakh. My father was proud to be of Karabakh origin. I have heard that the biblical manuscript was written on the parchment in red ink and was rewritten by hand over and over. It says that the Armenians emigrated from Karabakh to Bolu. There was a church (one of the two churches in Bolu) next to the house where my father lived and he had the opportunity to attend the church service since he was a child. It gave him a chance to see the Bible many times. And I came to Armenia from Canada three times. Back then in Yerevan I had the occasion to meet my uncles, aunts and their children. At the same time together with my relative I was trying to find out something about the manuscript from the Bible. For this purpose we visited the library of ancient manuscripts in Yerevan. The chief of the library informed us that many manuscripts were found in Yerevan, works were being carried out to enter all of them into the electronic database. We would gain an access to these manuscripts only after the completion of the mentioned works. This conversation took place in 1996. In the near future I am going to go to Yerevan to bring up this topic again. I hope I can touch the pages of the Bible that my father and uncle once have touched.
As you mentioned Armenians of Bolu speak Karabakh dialect of Armenian language. Aside from the dialect, what other cultural differences are there between the Armenians of Bolu and the Armenians from Anatolia? What other than food habits make Armenians from Bolu special, different?
I cannot talk much about their cultural differences. It is a very specific topic. If we talk about kitchen, perhaps I can bring an example of only a soup called «Spring». When my father and uncle ran away from Nalihan, where they were captured and returned home, the first thing they asked my mother to make was that spring soup. In fact, many good chefs were brought up in Bolu. Frankly speaking, I have no idea where the recipe of this soup came from; whether from the Turkish community or the Armenian community. The only thing I know is that it is a very delicious soup. And it seems as though my mother learnt about this soup either from my father or aunt, who lived in Istanbul; and she made this dish stunningly. I learnt about the Armenians from Anatolia in Diyarbakir. During one year of service I left there pleasant memories. But I did not see any connection between the Armenians of Bolu and Diyarbakir in terms of language and culture. The only thing that attracts my attention is that the Armenians both from Diyarbakir and Bolu are church-goers and hospitable. To my opinion these qualities relate to all the Armenians from Anatolia.
The book includes the memoirs of your father Gighmes Hopyan and his grandfather. In general the book contains information from 1850 till today about the Armenians of Bolu. Did you meet Armenians who lived in Istanbul before 1969 and then moved to Canada? If you have met them, did you learn anything from them about the cultural life of Armenians of Bolu?
Yes, besides my father and uncle, there were our other compatriots too. As far as I remember, there were two families. In Toronto we have met only one family from Bolu. And in Bolu there were 250 households comprising a small Armenian community. Each family was known for its special nickname. Armenians of Bolu have gathered in one cheerful community. When giving nicknames, they remember each other by those nicknames. In my father's memoirs everyone gets together at the table, drink rakee (hard liquor-ed. note) and sing songs about the past days.
Translated from Turkish. Sourse: agos.com