From: (George S. Tsapanos)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.bulgaria
Date: 22 Dec 1999 15:04:35 GMT
Organization: AOL

Good morning to all.

From the book "Makedonian Stories"  Athens 1920, by George Modis I'll translate for you today the one entitled "A Trial".

I was about to make a bunch of comments about the situation those days of 1906 in Makedonia especially in Monastiri, but then I changed my mind, since I am going to post another one tomorrow.

The ones out there that know what was going on, will understand very easily George Modis' realistic way of narrating the mood, actions, persons, and situations in Makedonia in the beginning of this century.

The translation is mine, again forgiveness asked for the mistakes, mistakes that in some parts of the story are intentional in order to present the different ways of speech among the peasents of the story,as Modis is explaining it and presenting it.

                     A TRIAL
               by George Modis.

The scene was taking place in the Special Tribunal of Monastiri during the summer of 1906.

Because of the heat, or for better because of the architecture in Themis' Building, a semi-destroyed construction, made out of wood,old as much as the High Empire, that famous Tribunal that so many souls had sent to Hades, was forced to come down the stairs and move into the open.

A big piece of heavy canvas, tied up with ropes,sitting atop wooden poles was extending its beneficial protection above the heads of Judges, Attorneys, Defendants, Gendarms, and few Officials.

The rest of the people had as roof the sky, no matter if it was raining rain, or July's lava. Yet a massive, vivid, noisy crowd in which all the tribes and different ways of dressing from Western Makedonia and Albania were represented, was encircling the Tribunal, making comments, debating, smoking, drinking tea or lemonades in such a way, that it could be said that was depicting  the exact happening in those famous peoples courts in ancient Athens.

The day of our trial the Court had come,since early, in its full composition. In the back of the tent, on top of a tall arm chair was enthroned the

President, someone with a large face, a large belly a sagacious Easterner of Turkish-Kurdish origins.

On his right was sitting very comfortably a fat Hodja and to his left a local Bey with lots of property, who had become a Judge in order to administrate better justice to his workers.

The last two of them Judges were armed with black glasses and all three of them were growing beards trimmed roundly on their faces according the tradition of the old Sultans. The ends of the court were occupied by the two Christian Judges. On the right-end a naive, elderly Greek, who spoke the Turkish language, from the same land as Saint Basilios, who the only relation he had with Hellenism was that he was the most regular patron of our Greek Church, and to the left-end the Bulgarian,  a figure of a genuine revolutionary, for whom those speaking bad about him were saying that if Turkey wanted really to get rid of the Komitadjdes she should have first hung that flamboyant Judge of hers.

His Bulgarian audacity  was showing in his whole-black Patriarch like beard, which he was cultivating, in order to prove his superiority in everything, especially with that cataract in front of which were turning pale the poor half-moon beards of his Turkish colleaques.

To his left was sitting, bended over papers and legal briefings, the District Attorney, having a profile like Abdul Hamit, for whom they were saying that sometimes he was holding back his thunders, and he was offering his speaking ability in auction, sometimes in favor of the Greek Kommittee, and others in favor of the Bulgarian Kommittee.

Across from him were his two secretaries. They were making preparations to write, instead of bending over on their desk, to do it on top of their left hand, sitting very comfordable with their legs crossed according to the original Turkish tradition.

During the breaks the hand that was issued as desk was relaxing massaging their legs, of which few toes were showing their revolutionary tops between their socks full with holes.

The entire picture was completed by the two Court-bailiffs that at the same time were acting as interpreters for the different dialects of the area. Their linguistic ability was so great, that many were honoring with their presence the Court, in order to hear from them and enjoy the inestimable beauties of their translations.

Few hats of Consular employees or European organizators were constituting the anorthography  within this pure Turkish surroundings.

In front of the Court and between lines of gendarmes were standing  with an attitude of infinite devoutness the accused ones, ten peasants from Lisolai a village on the road from Monastiri to Perlepes.

They were accused as collaborators of a gang, which in Turkish uniforms came down suddenly one day in their village and slaughtered eight peasants.

The Ethnicity of the gang has not been verified,or which demon or God the gang was serving.

However the public opinion wanted it to be Greek.

----- Whats your name? the president of the court asked thru the interpreter the first in line among the accused ones, a middle-aged  farmer with bended shoulders.
----- Petros Gruios.
----- Where were you born?
----- In Lisolai.
----- How old are you?
----- 55.
----- What kind of work you do?
----- Farmer.
----- What are you?
----- Christian.
----- Yes Christian: But of which Ethnicity?
----- Uhm,,,,, I don't know !  the farmer replied stammering.
----- What do you mean you don't know ? !  How such a thing could be possible ! Not knowing what you are! Greek-Orthodox (roum), Bulgarian Schismatic, Vlach, Serb, Papistanian, Protestant, what are you? Thank God you, the Christians in this part of the country are very rich in these things.

The farmer raised his shoulders one more time.

----- Lail Allah ! The President exclaimed. This is the first time in my life that I meet a man not knowing his Ethnicity.
----- Shame! Shame to you! What kind of a man are you! You are not a Turk, neither Christian, nor a Bulgarian, or Jew....... Reis-Bey Efendi (the president) will become really mad at you, and he'll let you die like a dog in jail.........was saying on his own the naive bailiff---interpreter, which with all of his wise ability of knowing the linguistics he didn't have a very clear understanding of the diversities between a Greek and a Bulgar, and between them and a Jew or a Turk.

His sacred indignation and his rhetoric diarrhea was interrupted by the local Judge, whom wasn't in need of using his illumination in order to communicate with the accused.

----- Abre child of mine, he told to the dizzy by now farmer, in his own language, starring at him above his black glasses. How come you are saying that you don't know what you are? Don't you have a priest in your village?
----- No.
----- And how come?
----- Because, because he is in..............jail.
----- Before he went to jail how was he reading in the Church?  In Greek or Bulgarian? Which Bishop was he worshipping?
----- I don't know............You better ask him.
----- Didn't you have a teacher in the village?
----- We had one but he left right after the slaughtering.
----- What was he? Bulgarian or Graikos? I don't believe that you have no idea what the teacher was.
----- I think he was Bulgarian.
----- Finally so........... I almost lost my soul to you; were Bulgars.

And turning towards the President.

----- Reis Bey Efendi, they are Bulgarians, he told him, with an expression that even Archimedes didn't have on his face when he discovered his hydrostatic laws.

The secretaries bended over and and notated: Bulgarian. Suddenly the long-baired Bulgarian Judge step upon.

----- Forgive me, Mister President, he said. My colleaque Bey Efendi, even knowing the language very well he was unable to communicate with the accused, because he doesn't know the understandings and the cleverness of the Christian peasants. I am asking your-highness to allow me to ask myself directly a few questions.

----- Ouf........You are overdoing it, my brother! replied instead of the President the representative of Justice for Hellenism from Kaisareia.......... Some times you are complaining because we don't admit that all the inhabitants of Makedonia are Bulgars.

Now you are asking for exactly the opposite........What is our fault if your compatriots have no idea what they are or which God they are worshipping!?

----- But I have the idea that this accused knows much more than everyone else in here including ouselves.
----- Bad times to come upon him! I wonder matter of fact how come they brought him in front of us and how come people will sin for killing such animals on two legs.

But who knows really the reasons you kill each other in these places?............

The Bulgarian smiled. Then the Greek judge turned towards the President and told him.

----- Your servant, Reis Bey Efendi, has the humble opinion  that the question of Ethnicity of the accused is of capital importance for the outcome of the trial. I believe that we should invite all the accusers and ask them once and for all regarding their Ethnicity, as long as your high-person doesn't have any objection.

     The high-person of the President made a sleepy motion of his head left and right signaling that he had no objection.

     However the motion that was observed in the court when it stumbled in the question regarding the Ethnicity of the accused, was transfered to the audience.

Everyone was pressing in order to view these strange peasants not belonging to any of the traditional classes of the Human race.

Especially the Turks for whom Ethnicity is synonymous with Religion were starring with open eyes at these humans standing neutral even in front of God. Excited were also the Europeans present in the Court. Three Italian officers from the ones that their mission was to organize the Turkish Gendarmery of Makedonia --- it is of course understandable in those districts that were neighboring with South Albania --- were debating  noisely with two of their Austrian colleaques, undertaking a similar mission --- for the districts next to Northern Albania and Novi-Pazar.

A consular employee of a Great Power was telling to a local attorney that he had heard that they do exist few insects and vermin that the scientists didn't know in which category to catalogize them, but he never imagined that something exactly the same could happen also with the beings called Humans.

     In the mean time were lined up in front of the court the ten accused.

----- Ask these people, the President told the interpretor, after he embraced them with a look more innocent than strict,  what they were thirty years earlier.

Of course I know that in those days all of them, they were Greek-Orthodox, of course our dear colleaque Dimitrief wasn't an exception.

But ask them, in order to follow the evolution of their Ethnic Conscience, if they have such thing.

     ----- Well.........ask them now, the President repeated, when did they become Bulgarian-Schismatics.

The accused lost their speech.

     ----- I will never be able to communicate with them! the President said in despair, whose eyelids were becoming heavy from the much heat.

    At this point was the turn of the judge with alot of property.

     ----- Abre!  << You look me good to eyes. You tell thirty years ago you Roum (Greek-Orthodox)'  Very well! Then you have Teacher Greek to village. Ain't so? >>
     ----- Of course.
     ----- << Bulgar teacher come to village of yours when? >>
     ----- Many times.
     ----- <<Abre boudala! Open your blinds.......I know Bulgar teacher many time come to village, since it was coming autumn it was leaving summer. But i am not asking you this. I am asking it to you: When first time Bulgar teacher come to village?>>
     ----- Many times the  peasants replied again.
     ----- Ouf !  you are really hard-headed people, plain water-buffalo. You don't understand or you are acting as if you don't understand! he yelled in desperation, his turn this time the Bey-Judge.
     ----- My Pasha, let me tell you myself, said the youngest one of the accused who was at the same time the more vivacious of them all. Our village in the old times was always Greek. Then it became Bulgarian. Then it became Greek again, then again Bulgarian.

Matter of fact for a lunar period  it tried to become Serbian or Catholic. Bottom line we don't even know ourselves what we are.

     ----- Well.....Aferim !  yelled the President rubbing his eyes because of perplexity and sleepiness.

Even if it was a shirt, you wouldn't change so often your Religion and your Ethnicity ................

     The Europeans, the Turks and the others, aliens to Makedonia and her customs, were starring with even more admiration at these unpolished peasants that while few seconds earlier they appeared as not having an idea regarding Ethnic Conscience, now all of a sudden they were unveiling themselves as real champions of it.

     ----- At this moment what are you anyway? Greeks or Bulgarians? Because after all we must write down something on our papers regarding your Ethnicity.
     ----- Bulgarians ! all of the accused murmured.
     ----- Pasha Efendi, they are mocking you, a woman's voice was heard from behind the people. ----- She was the wife of one of the victims of the slaughtering.-----

     These ones that are in front of you, acting like half-poor without any future, are the most fanatic Grekomans of our village, same again as the ones that were slaughtered were the best Bulgars.

     When a party was prevailing, was pulling the other one with it and accordingly  the village was becoming Greek or Bulgarian.

     Lately the Grekomans not being able to take care by themselves they brought in the village the damned gang and is in  such a way that they clear the ground of their adversaries.

     ----- Soussssssss  ou  ousss ! interrupted her with severity the voice of the President, whom of course, had understood nothing from the woman's screams.

     The trial continued a little longer, but the acquittal of the accused was already secured by now.

Regards to all...................L.

""Vlachs, the Autochthonous
  Of The Hellenic Peninsula"".

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