The Official Web Site of
Elizabeth Marks
Amid the atrocities of the Armenian genocide, a young boy survives to become a man of courage, compassion and honor

Excerpt from 'Zaven's Destiny'



     It was a gloomy morning in Sivas, Armenia, in early May 1915. On the main street where the American Missionary School was located, there was a bustle of activity. Goods were piled on the side of the street. At first glance, it may have seemed like any normal day, but that was far from the truth. Instead, it was here that the deportation of Armenians began.      The conflict between Turkey and Armenia, two countries with people of vastly different cultures and religion, had its roots centuries ago.
     The dispute was being resolved by the forceful domination of the stronger power. A young boy stood among the crowd, dressed in the typical garb of that time—high black boots, tightly fitted breeches, brown cotton shirt, and a fur hat. He was preoccupied with a spirited black donkey, when his attention was distracted by the sound of greased, wooden axels announcing the arrival of forty ox carts. The Turkish government made them available to the Armenian families that were being deported.
     The boy ran toward the carts, but hesitated when he heard a familiar voice. “Stop, stop, Little Destroyer. Don’t pick any cart until I see it.” It was his Uncle Kaspar, who stood beside their pile of family belongings and watched him. The young boy was accustomed to his nickname. If his uncle called him by his proper name, Zaven, he knew that he was in trouble.
     “I won’t pick any cart, uncle,” said Zaven, looking back, “but everyone is rushing to pick one. If we don’t hurry, the best ones will be taken.”
     “All right, go ahead,” mumbled the old man. “But don’t pick one by its looks as you did with your donkey.”
     The long train of ox carts filled the entire street. Zaven walked by slowly, searching for one suitable for his family. His eyes rested on a Turkish peasant dressed in dark brown loose pants and a black handmade vest. His beard was neglected and yellowed in spots. Zaven caught the peasant’s sympathetic eyes, which lent an air of honesty. The peasant stepped in front of Zaven, partly blocking his way.
     “Looking for a cart, son?” he asked with a suppressed smile.
     “Yes, sir,” replied Zaven hesitatingly.
     “Will mine do?”
     Zaven quickly examined the cart. It was not new or flashy, like some others, but the two wheels balancing the heavy flat top appeared solid. He looked at the oxen. The black one with a tiny white spot on his forehead jerked its head. It was a strong, healthy-looking ox. The other half of the team, a light brown ox, seemed just as strong.
     “Yes, sir,” said Zaven. “We would be grateful to travel with you.”
     Just then Zaven saw his uncle approaching. “Here comes my uncle. Will you speak to him?”
     The peasant nodded, then turned to Zaven to ask, “How many in your family, son?”
     “Just the four of us—me, my mother, my sister, and her baby.”

Pre Order your Copy