“If the neighboring nation can’t read our literature or watch our performances and films, we need to find a way to communicate, so that when they get the chance to watch our films and read our poems, novels and stories, they can comprehend it, ” says Tomasyan.
Yetvart Tomasyan, or as his close friends and relatives call him, Tomo, was born in 1949 in the Yedicule District of Istanbul. Tomo’s family hails from Çorlu and Tekirdağ – towns in present-day Thracian Turkey. At a young age, his grandfather Lasarus moved from Çorlu to Istanbul to work. Years later he established a family business – a cafe where he worked together with his wife Taguhi and sons.
Tomasyan’s father Petros, a jeweler, was born in Constantinople in 1908. By living in Constantinople, the family managed to avoid the mass deportations and massacres of 1915. “Only prominent people were deported from Istanbul, but the common people were mainly safe. Intellectuals, clergymen, eminent individuals were deported and some were killed along the way, while others, tortured and exhausted, found shelter in Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo,” Yetvart says. Nevertheless, the Armenian Genocide did leave an imprint on the family’s history.
A lifetime of mourning
“Before marrying my grandmother, my grandfather Lasarus had a wife named Sofik and three children: Karpis, Aghavni and Martik, the youngest. Sofik was a very beautiful woman, tall and blue-eyed. She contracted tuberculosis and died,” Yetvart remembers.
Widowed Lasarus decided to remarry, in order to be able to take care of his children. His relatives told him of a girl in Çorlu named Taguhi. To persuade Taguhi to marry Lasarus, the mediating relative told her that Lasarus had only two children. When Taguhi arrived in Istanbul and discovered the truth, she felt betrayed and refused to take care of the third child. Lasarus’s parents took Martik back to Çorlu so the new family would not fall apart.