From: email@example.com (George S. Tsapanos)
Subject: FR: LYNGOS RE: ""BY MISTAKE"" ( By G Modis).
Date: 31 Dec 1999 04:40:35 GMT
Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com
Good evening to all
The year 1906 is considered the most critical for the Makedonian struggle, in the vilayet of Monastiri.
During the spring of that year, many new small corps of Antartes began entering the vilayet from the South, and the number of the fighters was increasing since the local Makedonian fighters were added to the ones from Greece.
The Hellenic populations that during 1905 were somehow disappointed with the struggle, realizing that something new much stronger was going on, saw their hopes for freedom from the Turks revived, and the destruction of the Bulgarian komitadjides and their corps becoming a reality.
One of those corps entering, or for better re-entering the struggle, was that of the Cretan Bolanis and one of its fighter was George Modis, the writer of the Makedonian stories.
During 1906, he was wounded in one of the battles but was able to save his skin when the Turks by-passed the home in which he was hiding with two of his companions.
Today I am going to translate for you, not this story but a different one, one of blood, hate and revenge.
Modis being a local guy, many times wasn't in agreement with the decisions of the Captains of the corps, they being from the Southern parts of Greece, him a local, but above all with the methods, necessary at times, to eliminate the local peasants.
We saw last time ( A TRIAL ) what happened to the Grekomans that offered help to the Greek liberation corp, today I am going to translate the story of a terrible mistake that later was proven that wasn't so much of a mistake.
Again, the translation is mine and so are the mistakes (intentional sometimes to render Modis style of writing).
A Makedonian Story by George Modis.
Translation by Lyngos.
For some time now our corp had decided to destroy the two villages of Dobromir and Gnegotin.
In the first one during summer time were slaughtered by a gang of komitadjees five of our people, good housekeepers, brothers and cousins, with a priest as head of them.
Gnegotin was the enemy's base used for the attacks. However the realization of our decision wasn't an easy one.
Both villages were down in the flat land, matter of fact the first one was close to Monastiri, and both were far away from our base, two bases distance, as that was the way we use to count distances in our language.
After all our line of retreat was passing between many military and guard stations.
And yet, during the night of September the 17th we rolled the dice, and left, to transform in flesh and bones or most likely in ashes and blood the dream that for so long time our ambition as Antartes was caressing.
At midnight we crossed the Tserna river. Was raining a fine rain. The waters of the river swollen since autumn, were exploding in thick black waves. Four little wretched animals requisitioned from some near by village, able to climb the all-rocky terrain and cross the most agitated currents, were lending to us their skinny backs in order to cross the river.
The waves were covering the packsaddles. We were feeling under our legs that those amphibious boats were about to die. One of those packsaddles bend over and threw the man on top of it into the water.
By his good luck he was one of the few that had some kind of relation with the sea, and was capable of saving his life, being helped in addition to his swimming abilities, by the tail of the animal, which he was able to grab in several places.
After this happening Kostas the Sarakatsanian a companion that was half-Antartis, half sheep-herder, didn't dare to take any chances with the river.
------ Gooooooddddddd time to you, Kapitani............gooooooodddddd time, boyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyysssss. The God withhhhhhhhhhhhyouuuuuuuuuuuuuu,............his voice was heard saying from the other side of the river.
----- Aren't you coming? Kosta with us?
----- Me go way with sheep..........to the winter quarters...............Time has come............
----- Well........Good time to you too.
----- Goooooooddddddd time to you. Goooooodddd time to you........The Christ, the Virgin Mary and aaaaaaaaallllllllllllllll the saints with you!.........At the right time to return to your homes............
------- Aameen! replied Manolis. What about your wedding abre Kosta ? Aren't we going to celebrate it?
----- You come....Christ's day down to the plains..........In Chalkidiki.....
Tserna's left bank was presenting at that point its worst aspect. A high mountain, sliced vertically by the Creator's knife, at the instance he was opening an exit for the waters of the Flooding, according to a local tradition, covered with an exotic forest, black multiform granite, thin wild-locust trees, that were moving in the thick darkness like shadows of Dante's inferno. On those little trees, hard and full with thorns, as if they were barbed wire, we left that night plenty parts of our clothes and our skin.
All of a sudden I lost from in front of me the dark without a form sillouette, of the guy preceding me, that I was using for guidance. I whistled and he replied to me in the same way. But In the meantime I lost the only trail existing in this wild shivered mountain made of rocks, thorns and thistles, and it became impossible for me to catch up with the whistlings that were weakening. In such a way I was all alone, excluded because of the river in an area that was Komitadjees' nest.
I was reflecting the sufferings that underwent, those of the Andartes that fall alive into their hands, and I felt my hair wet from the rain and sweat, standing straight up with horror.
In my agitation,unconsciously I pulled the trigger of my gun. Immediately another shot replied to me from afar. This one was followed by another one from the opposite direction this time though. Another comrade had shot this one, that he was lost just the same way as I was. As a result even with the shooting, an orientation was not going to be possible . They found us next morning, the guides and peasants of a trustfull village on the right bank, that had been mobilized for the sake of us.
We spent the day on a dry bed of a small torrent close to Rapes. This village after being blown for some time between the two sides had bent towards our side. Yet, just in case, so that it wouldn't remember old cunning habits, we kept with us till the time we left eight of its notables for company, as we told them, but actually as hostages.
We established our second base on a high top, that was overlooking the Monastiri plains, and was covered with a small forest of filberts, next to the famous during WWI , altitude 1650 top.
It looked like at that point that Aeolus' sack had broken. Wet and sweating without the heavy coats, that we had left together with our backpacks on the other side of the river, in the middle of the North wind and all of his crazy companions, that night we paid for all the past and future sins of our gang.
From our shivering and our sardine-like packing, we were shaken awake early in the morning by the noise of steps on the dry leaves of the forest. "
Welcome.......friends of ours, Mavris told us always smiling. Whom did they send the people of Rapes and the Turks he said in his Cretan accent. We have to collect the wool but we'll leave without it.........""
Other comrades jumped towards the direction of the noise where they arrested two peasants loaded with sickles and branches from the trees. The poor people were shaking with fear. However soon they found their courage and while we were getting ready to tied them up, one of them came near the commander and he saluted him.
----- Good morning Capitan Volanis. Wellcoume.....you good are ?
----- Abre...where do you know me from ?
----- You know well Capitan, and better if you learn it better in Dobromir.
----- Tell me please, the commander turning to me, what is this one talking about Dobromir and his acquaintances?
With few words I communicated with the peasant.
----- Our man, Capitan, by the name of Elias, is of our people, notable in the village of Paralovo. He knows you because of your fame, that made him decide many times to come and find you in our bases. He is apologizing for being unable to pay his respects. He knows that tonight we are on our way to Dobromir.
----- What ? He knows that too ?
----- He knows it.
----- Then he must be one of the good ones. And is he coming with us.
----- Good for him. It appears that he has a heart.
He turns then towards the peasant who was radiant with joy and tells him.
----- Abre Elia are you going to slaughter many of the Bulgarians?
He released a deep sigh he opened his eyes wide and he replied:
" ----- Five children from Dobromir with priest, mine of cousins. It dog the Bulgar first it tied it up after it slaughtered all five of them. It slaughtered and it my father."
----- They slaughtered your father too ?
" ----- They slaughter ".
----- Eyes of mine, he is a treasure by himself. Lets talk better with him. The two guides that brought us up here they appear stupid. They left in the night and they got lost.
Simultaneously he took out and gave me a note with the names of the condemned ones. Elias for each name I was reading, he was gritting his teeth or he was moving his head with an expression indicating nothing good for the ones having the read names.
----- Now ask him, the Capitan told me, about the other village in our program. What in hell is its name ? I always forget its name.
----- About Gnegotin ?
----- Yes. Yes.
Elias made a motion with his hands that if was to be translated it meant that in that village shouldn't remain a rock on top of another.
----- And then they say that God doesn't love us, shouted the Capitan. But this Elias is a morning present from God.
----- Come Elia. Go now, he told him caressing his back. Come to an understanding with the rest and do it fast. I want right things. And send to us something to eat, bread and cheese.
"----- Ah! Foood, Cheese no. You coume here, us give always lamb".
----- Bravo Elia. Take off now.
But as soon as he had taken a few steps, Manolis stopped him.
----- Elia, my Dear elia. I want some beer too.
"----- Beer ? Has beer. Good".
Matter of fact without too long arrived up there two more peasants with a load of white bread, freshly baked, roasts, pittas, and beer. Behind them arrived some more. They also came to visit us women that brought to us apples in their aprons.
The Greeks of Paralovo and of two more small villages from the valley they climbed in order to welcome us and take pride in us before we throw ourselves into the revenge that so much they were desiring with all of their souls. In those places very seldom Greek corps were showing up. The situation was causing uneasiness. Where did you hear that an "operation" was so early known to so many people? As if it wasn't a serious danger, to have our presence become known by few others less devoted?
However the fears and the preocupations didn't prevent us from laying down after the eating, on a sunny slope leaving the Kapetanio to take care of the male and female visitors and the guides.
Together with Manolis we hid in a small hole a little farther. Two women fairly young arrived and stood by us waiting for the other ones.
----- Did you see them? Did you see them ? one was saying to the other. They were both in the right age for marriage.
----- What about their Kapetanios ? Loaded with silver. He doesn't look like a mountain man. Good looking and young like an angel.
----- I wish these bad boys would come to our village.......
The two women began laughing.
Manolis couldn't stand it anymore. He jumped up and told them speaking in their language.
----- Here I am..........Better than an angel.
The two women began running downhill......
We slept a very deep sleep in the coziness of a day that in contrast with the
night, was a delight of alcyonic times. When we woke up or better when they
woke us up, the commander with the guides had left with all the power of their
legs. That moment our corps appeared like a herd of sheep that their guiding
ram was bitten by a fly and was running on all fours.
----- How come we are running like this, abre boys? I asked one of the companions. Are they hunting us?
----- No, the Kapetanios wants to finish the whole thing tonight soon and tomorrow to be on the other side of the river.
----- Well........from what I see we are not going to Dobromiri, I repeated showing with my hand the village that we bypassed to our right on the valley.
----- It smells like gunpowder in there. Tonight it has soldiers in there. We are going now towards a different village that is going to pay for that too.
----- And what's its name?
----- I don't know. Is where they double-crossed Skalidis.
From one of the guides, armed with a rusty gra-rifle, I was informed that during our preparations to descend at Dobromir all of a sudden the news arrived that it was surrounded by the guards of a close by village, looking for Komitadjides. Plus it wasn't a good idea to turn towards Gnegotin because towards that direction went by two companies of bounty hunters. So..in order for our efforts not to go invane, since was going to be more dangerous staying in these places any longer, especially after that popular pilgrimage,it was thought as a good idea by the majority of the guides to go in Gniles and punish three peasants, considered to be guilty for the double-crossing and destruction of Skalidis corps.
It was still daylight. The sun was just going down behind the majestic mountain crest of Peristeri, starting a fire to the swamps and the waters of the endless valley spreading on our feet.
Across where were the roots of two mountains Monastiri was favorably impressing , covered with trees and minarets. A fine panorama was unfolding in front of us. And ourselves were running, were running unrestrained and gasping, blind towards the magic apotheosis of the sunset, absorbed only by our " deed". I don't remember for how long this crazy Marathon lasted. The full moon was up high, when we arrived at Gniles.
It was a small village spreading its humbleness on a smooth mountain fold. From afar under the moonlight it appeared to us like a string of beehives. Its twenty five houses made with mud were not allowing it to maintain Greek or Bulgarian priest or teacher, these two poles, around of which Nationalism was twirling in many Makedonian villages. It wasn't Greek or Bulgarian or for better it was both. It was belonging in the category of those hermaphrodite settlements that in order to avoid Scylla and Charybdis of the two opposite groups were sitting irresolute in the middle.
Free from any official commitment with Greeks and Bulgarians and willing to accept and execute orders no matter from which direction they were coming, it had remained so far tranquil and unbothered in its obscurity, while all over around it was raging the slaughtering and the devastation, same as when the humble trees bend under all the assails of the wind. Its fatal time had arrived however and it was proved to be sufficient, an instance of forgetfulness and a simple caprice of luck in order to overturn all of their calculations and their hopes.
As soon as we got close to the village we began our action with the same haste and hurry that had characterized this whole unfortunated operation. Some evil demon was pushing the Kapetanios that night, to show towards the minutes and the hours super-Brittanic thrifteness. Without stoping and concentrating, they were named the ones that were to surround it and we entered the rest of us in, with the same possesed velocity. The inhabitants at first were surprised by our unexpected night attack. Soon though they found their courage and came out to salute us with their women and children. The welcoming matter of fact involved some lavish illumination.
To make it as much official as possible they had taken with them the lights of their houses, meaning big pieces of pine torches and a few small oil lamps emanating more smoke and bad smell rather than light. Many were holding in their hands bottles of raki and fruits, that they were offering to us with much liveliness. A bended old lady insisted to treat us from an enormous canteen made of bronze, which with regards of its age could be compared only to her. Only the Kapetanios refused to touch it and he told me: << Look what kind of hypocricy!>> Other villagers were inviting us to visit them in their homes.
---- This is your first time you come to the village.........Stay with us for a day.
---- We thank you, we were replying to them. We will come back some other time.This time we are just crossing. Please, we are asking you to concentrate all the men in the house of the notable, where we need to elect a committee and talk.
The peasants obeyed. And after some time the notable's hovel began to fill up with those miserable and unfortunate beings. At that instance the gate of the fold shut suddenly with the grandeur of a portal of a city under siege, while standing like an Archangel, the Kapetanios is giving orders to the guides: << Go ahead. Choose who are to live and take them out. Just do it fast>>. The guides went in and began taking out of the semi open door almost all of the trapped ones in. They were left in the fold three men only. Volanis was out of him mind.
----- You old dogs! He yelled, you want to save them all.........Be carefull because I am going to lock you up in their place.
And he ordered to lock up again in their cage, the peasants that were carrying around stupid looks without understanding anything that was happening
Then he called again for the last time upon the guides, to begin again the separation of the lambs from the kids. However no one moved. In the center then appeared Elias, Deus ex machina or most likely Satan ex machina. He cared only for few that he knew them. He save them. He left the others to their fate, after all he had against them the fact that the Bulgarian gang that slaughtered five members of his family in Dobromir had found many times shelter in Gniles.
All of these happened instanly. Most of the Antartes we didn't understand a thing. And we couldn't immagine that, that humble door was going to serve as Hades trap-door to so many human beings.
Suddenly we see Volanis with an ax in his hands to pull out from inside a peasant and with a blow in the center of the head laid him out dead down on the ground in front of our feet. After him followed another. At this moment some of the guides intervened in order to stop the slaughtering. The condemned man took advantage of this small confusion,and with wings given by the danger against someone's life, he jumped between all of us and disappeared.
Volanis threw the ax and rushed after him brandishing his silverish knife. Mavrogenis grabbed the ax and followed................
The destruction happened with amazing velocity. Withing few seconds everything had finished. Thirteen men passed to the other life with as much easiness as the most innocent of the lambs wouldn't surrender their spirit. Not a scream, not one noise came to disturb this atrocious tragedy. The condemned were dead before even received the blow. Few after all made the useless efford to appeal for mercy. Even the dogs of the village had become mute. The old woman "babo" with the big canteen made out of bronze, ran with anxiety in the place of the calamity. When she faced the bloody ax in its sinister work, left an inarticulated scream and fell down on the ground passing out.
On the way back the Kapetanios stood atop a high pass in order to wait for some companions that were walking slower. Down below could be seen the village that wasn't going to forget us forever anymore. Many lights were moving in there.
Volanis looked at it frowning with a persistent and fixed stare. I layed down close to him. He did the same saying :
----- Ah! I got tired. We ran too much tonight.
----- It is just from the running, Kapetan Georgi? I said starring at the blood he was cleaning from his hands and his chest with the black scarf from his head.
----- Don't forget. I am getting old. The years in prison count three times more.
----- Tonight, I believe, that we overdid it.
----- What did you say ?
----- We overdid it. I think we killed too many.
The Kapetanios asked for a cigarette, he lit it up, he who was never smoking and said slow as if he was counting his words:
This is the reason we are up here.........What else for?!......... Until our turn comes.................
----- But tell me one thing; I repeated. Why did we go up against this lame-village?
----- Well....... We couldn't go to Dobromiri so we came in here. Very elementary. If you didn't like it very much I can assure you that we are not going to let that one to complain either. After all isn't it what the order from the center was saying ?
----- Which order?
----- The order from the center.
----- The order ? !
-----Yes. You yourself read it. It was instructing us about Dobromir and for this village. What in hell is its name?...............
----- Alas. We are responsible for the killing of so many.
----- What are you talking about killing angels. Lets see you falling into their hands and see what is going to happen to you..............How come you are not talking?
----- The order was saying to go to Dobromir, or to Gnegotin and we destroyed Gniles.
----- What did you say?
----- Well ! A mistake happened Kapetanie, that cost the lives of thirteen people.
Happy new Year
Regards to all ..................L.
Of the Hellenic Peninsula"".
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