April 1915 was the beginning of the monstrous genocide of the Armenians. The Turkish authorities initiated their long-standing schedule of annihilation of the Armenian nation, and started their bloody operation with the intellectuals. Two lists of the banished scientists and artists were made: those who were included in the first list were to be exiled to Haiash, and the second group - to Changr. Those who were in the first list were killed at once. Komitas, together with many friends and colleagues happened to be included in the second list. The terrible journey to the place of the exile took them seven weeks. Certainly, from the very first day, the exiled in this miserable caravan clearly realized the tragical end that awaited them.
The distinguished Armenian poets Siamanto and Daniel Varouzhan, who were friends with Komitas while in Constantinople prison, tried to lavish attentions on him and ease his lot. But this Calvary route dragging on for months and was fraught with such awful physical and intellectual shocks anyone could go mad, let alone a musician who knew no other world but music and songs.
The first shock on Komitas was at the moment when by singing he tried to make his friends to understand what would be done with them by those murderers. Suddenly an awful deafening stroke interrupted his singing: having arisen from behind his back, a beast of a policeman all of a sudden stunned the Master with a strong blow. Komitas turned pale and could not move from the unexpected force of the impact.
Once, passing by corpses, skeletons and moans of dying people Komitas saw a harrowing scene: with improbable, indescribable pleasure a policeman with a saber disemboweled a young woman who was in labor. The maiden cry of the new-born child choked under the Turkish butcher's impact. The infernally excruciating cries of the mother and son and their dreadful death horrified Komitas greatly: he again turned awfully pale and lost the ability to speak.
On their way to Changr, on a saddle-point Tavly, where the caravan of the exiled, tortured by hunger and thirst, had at last arrived after the exhausting tramp in the desert, there was another horrifying case. Those who were still vigorous enough went to look for some drinking water. Komitas, being a thorough and clean person, was delighted to see the water and clapped his hands. There were no cups, so they had to drink from the bucket. Knowing Komitas' meticulousness, Siamanto and Varouzhan first of all brought the bucket to the Master... But he had hardly come up to the bucket when the brutal policeman went for him, beat the bucket out of his hands and threw it away... In horror, Komitas buried his face in his hands and stiffened numb, while the water dripped from his dampened clothes.
At last, lowering his hands Komitas with a quenched look went to his tent. Doctors Torgomian, Ruben Sevak and Kelekian rushed to find out what had happened to Komitas as his deadly paleness disturbed everybody... In an hour Komitas joined his friends. Someone brought water again and gave a cup of water to him. But he refused and shook his head with a sad smile. He began to speak to himself, mumbling something. He spent that night restlessly...
The following morning the caravan was ordered to set off for Changr - a terrible historical Calvary of the Armenian intellectuals. The caravan drove through a gorge, in the stinging sun, hungry, tormented with thirst and exhausted. Komitas toiled hanging his head and muttering something to himself. At that moment he noticed a dirty, decrepit donkey up the hill ... The Master picked up the hem of his long robe, shook hands with the donkey, and with greatest respect bowed to him and cried out loudly, "Do not hurry, friends, let "chantarma" (policeman) pass!"
Many people took these words for a joke as Komitas had a fine sense of humor. But Drs. Torgomian and Sevak, being very close friends to the Master and knowing his spiritual outlook, saw in it some signs of insanity...
The spiritual state of Komitas was aggravated after reaching the terrible destination of their "journey" - Changr, where the prominent figures of the Armenian culture, exhausted by the mockeries of the Turkish military had already realized completely that death was breathing in their faces. Having a presentiment of the end, they asked Komitas to sing for them for the last time. Komitas did not refuse and performed one of his best-known works "Have mercy upon me, oh God!"... Accompanied with mournful cries and hopeless moans of his dying friends, Komitas completed his song, suddenly burst out laughing madly, his entire body trembling, horrifying everybody. Perceiving the Master's condition, they surrounded him and tried to comfort him, but in vain - he went on laughing madly.
At that fatal time an order was sent from Constantinople to bring Komitas back. Humble Komitas, accompanied by two of his escaped friends, Dr.Torgomian and publisher Buzand Kechian, was brought through Konia to Constantinople after three months' torments. Here are Komitas' words concerning the events seen and experienced by him, "A flock without the shepherd lost and knocked down... Invisible but rough surges shake the miserable history of the life of my people. The callous hunters have caught the naive fish in their net. The atmosphere is filled with poison. There is no escape. Breakup, horror and violence on one hand, and indifference and dirty hearts on the other hand. Vanity and skill, on one hand, feebleness and ignorance, on the other hand. Everybody feels his position to hide ignorance of his mind from a naive eye. Our bodies have rotted, the souls are desecrated, the life is coated with corpses...
Where is our wise Khorenatsi? Let him rise from the dead, from the ground impregnated with blood, and mourn over souls and hearts, minds and deals of our succession. Our ancestors accomplished their mission with self-sacrifice, and we did it with poverty and misery. My heart is broken."
After returning from Changr, the narrowly escaped Komitas and Buzand Kechian were visited by Agavny Mesrobian, a student of the Master." In the afternoon, - she recalls, - we went to see the Kechians at their place in Ferideh Street. Just at the entrance before us there was a harrowing scene: Komitas who looked very untidy, with an inseparable fan in his hand, was standing surrounded by the members of the families of the scientists exiled to Changr, who came to hear from their nearest and dearest. Joining their sobbing, Komitas excitedly consoled them saying that all their relatives were safe and sound. "They will return soon just like we did, - he said scrappily. - Do not be late with the answers to their letters and cables, be loving wives and mothers"...
Komitas, with the names of the brutally murdered friends on his lips, damned the savage Turkish government and added: "Ah, my Kechian, I couldn’t help lying to our widowed sisters." And throwing himself on Kechian's bed, choking with tears, he went on, "Nobody knows all the wounds of our national tragedy... This trouble will drive us mad!"
As the fates decree, it just happened. Komitas was both an eyewitness and an improbably survived victim of the Armenian genocide of 1915. This tragedy penetrated all his further creative work, and the same tragedy predetermined the next 20 years’ awful spiritual sufferings of the gradually dying away genius of Armenian music.

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