Wednesday, May 29, 2013


by Vahe Apelian

For an onlooker, Sunday was no different from any other day of the week in Keurkune. 
There was no traffic in the village to see less of it on a Sunday.
There were  no shops in the village to see them closed on Sundays .                 There were no people working in  the village to see them not working
on the Sabbath.    The villagers toiled in the fields.
Yet Sundays were all different from the other six days of the week,
 especially in our grandfather’s house. I will come to it later.

Honestly, Sundays were a drudge to us boys.First and foremost there was the issue of the

attire. Even though dressing for Sunday meant a white shirt tacked in the shorts we mostly wore on Sundays but it became too confining. Hunting was forbidden on Sundays.We were not allowed to use rifle and debkh, the sticky sticks we used to catch birds, on Sundays..Even the animals were not grazed during Sundays confining Papken and me, as I used to accompany him often.
Our inclination would be to have the animals grazed in the Keurkune’s gorge,
Then there was the chore of attending the Sunday service,sitting for what seemed to be eternity on the front seat on the left hand side row of pews where most of the men sat having entered the sanctuary from the left hand side door reserved for the males. It did not make difference whether married or single, men entered on the left hand side door and the women from the right hand side door. Then came the wait to have what appeared to be an endless service end while gazing outside from the windows. The fields were open then. There were no buildings to block the view that came into view from the left hand side church windows extending all the way to Chakaljuk, the village nearest to Keurkune.
The audible difference of a Sunday in the village was the sound of the bells that broke the stillness over the village.There were two kinds of bells. There was a resonating piece of metal that was hung from one of the three olive trees in the church courtyard. It was rung signaling the start of Sunday service for the children. It was a small piece of metal but it made a surprisingly clear sound that was heard all over the village. I hope that piece of metal is saved and preserved,
 The other was the sound of the church’s bell that alerted the start of the Sunday service
 for the grown ups. The bell was rung when the pastor was ready for the service, as he serviced both churches on Sunday, the one in Ekiz Olough and in Keurkune.In a spirit of fairness the church service was held early in one church and later in the other on a Sunday and the order was reversed the next Sunday. There were no cars then so the pastor had to hurry from one church to the other on foot. Some pastors may have had the luxury of having provided a donkey on a Sunday most to my recollection did not.
  Sunday was marked with my grandfather’s ceremonial shaving. I do not think  
that  he shaved every day and I do not mean to say that he shaved only on Sundays. But shaving on the Sunday for the church service created the Sunday mood in the household. He had what appeared to be a bar of soap in a
    small kettle that even had handle. He foamed the soap with his shaving brush, applied it on his face and shaved using a small mirror he had. He shaved on the balcony or elsewhere.
 We had become accustomed to another ritual on Sundays. Kids came to our house brining their larger coins and asked for change. Our grandfather was the life long treasurer of the church and kept the church’s treasury in a tin can in one of the cavities on one of the walls in the house. He would bring the tin can down on Sundays
for the inevitable need for change for the Sunday’s offering we called khatcamboer.
 I am not sure if the word is Turkish in origin or it is anauthentic word of Kesbenok,  the  dialect Kessabtsis speak

For lack of better description , nickels and dimes may best describe the coins cast on the offering plate during service. The offering plate appeared to be brass and the drop of the coins on the metal plate made a distinctive sound during the collection. Our grandfather would be late coming home after the service. He and the pastor would count the Sunday’s meager offering and I presume recorded it in a ledger. He would then bring the day’s treasury home to pile it in the tin can. At times before he put the coins in the tin can he would have them on his bed. There would be a lot of excitement in the house should there be ‘paper money” among the collection. We would speculate as to who may have offered the ‘paper money”. The speculating usually would center on villagers who lived out side, such as in Beirut, and were visiting the village for the summer or happened to be there that Sunday . Faith more so than finances have perpetuated the Keurkune church over three centuries , having been built in 1898.

  The rest of the Sunday would drag on. In hindsight it was a truly a day of rest for the villagers having toiled in the fields for the preceding six days to resume their work the following day making their living off of nature’s gifts: soil, water, sunshine and labor.
   Wednesday, May 29, 2013
 Loveland, OH

No comments:

Post a Comment