Shared Sorrows – 17

March 6, 2013 in Shared Sorrows | Comments (0)

 

 

Shared Sorrows: Indians and Armenians in the prison camps of Ras al-‘Ain, 1916-18 – 17

 

Sisir Sarbadhikari went to the station early to wait for the train that was to carry the Indian POWs out of Ras al-‘Ain. Along with four friends from the Bengal Ambulance Corps, he was able to get a covered wagon. They occupied it at about nine that night.

After an hour or so,’ writes Sisir, ‘we heard Yakob’s voice whispering to us from the outside. When we went to him he said that we had to make space for him somehow in our wagon.’ (p.198) We said have you gone mad? How can that be done? To take you into our wagon will be dangerous not just for you but for us too. If the Turks find out they’ll give you such a beating that you may die of it; and who knows what will happen to us? There’ll probably be a court-martial. We can’t do anything like that.’ (pp. 198-9)

 

'Orphan refugees, who are hoping to reach some town where there is bread.' Nat Geog: Volume XXXVI, Number Five, November 1919, p. 410

Orphan refugees, who are hoping to reach some town where there is bread.’ Nat Geog: Volume XXXVI, Number Five, November 1919, p. 410

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Yakob was stubborn, he began to weep. He said the blame would be his alone; if the Turks caught him then there was nothing to be done; he would die anyway if he remained in Nisibeen; if he was going to die then he might as well make an attempt to get away. In the end we let him in. It was only the four of us in that wagon– Phoni, Jagdish, Bhola and I. Had there been anyone else we wouldn’t have dared.

Although we let him in, we couldn’t of course let him sit on a bench where anybody could see him; he had to be hidden. The only hiding place was under the bench. Here lay the problem. Yakob may have been young but he had a big belly; it was impossible to get him under the bench. In the end Bhola pressed his belly and somehow shoved him in. Yakob’s pants’ buttons popped open and his chest and stomach were grazed and bloody. He remained there that whole night and the next day and night as well. After that he got off at a station; he said he would be all right from there on.’ (p.199)

 

 

 


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