August 18th, 1914
“I am Anahid,” I whispered.
“Anahid-jan, please dear, I can’t hear you.”
My new teacher approached my desk and gently patted my shoulder. Soft brown wavy hair streaked in gray fell just above her shoulders, framing her round face and dark brown eyes. She smiled in a way that reminded me of my metz-mom and I smiled in return.
Clearing my throat, I found my voice. “My name is Anahid,” I said louder. The eyes of every student in class stared at me as I blushed madly.
I was the new student in class in the middle of a school year. It was the third time we moved in the last twelve months and Diyarbakir was a land of promise for a farming family like ours. At least, that’s what my father told me. As we arrived in the bustling growing village two evenings earlier I cried to my father.
“Baba, why must we move here?”
“Anahid-jan, we must be grateful for opportunities given to us. There are many families who are worse off than us.”
“But Baba, we are like prisoners,” I said as we rode our donkeys along the black basalt walls that stood so tall they loomed over us like a foreboding presence.
“These must be millions of years old,” Mesrop said, his head falling back as he struggled to see the top, his brown curls bouncing around his round face. Mama laughed and I couldn’t help but smile. When she laughed, she laughed with her whole body.
“Not a million years old,” Baba said. “But they’re very old, built from when the Romans were here.”
“What for?” I asked. It was evening and the skies were clear. The waning moon cast very little light, making crevices appear deeper and shadows seem longer.
“It was a dangerous time, Anahid-jan. You needed walls like this to protect you. But,” He waved his hand in the air. “As you can see by how they have tumbled to the ground in many places. We have no need for such walls.” He walked alongside my brother, Mesrop’s, donkey as my mama walked along mine. She patted my leg comfortingly and smiled at me.
“It will be okay, Anahid-jan,” she said. “You’ll start school in two days and make new friends.”
“I liked my old friends,” I said, frowning.
“Anahid!” Mama scolded me.
I chewed on my lower lip as the walls soon faded into the distance behind us.
“It’ll be okay,” Mesrop said. “School will be fun.”