There are some strange and also spooky stories that our family lived in the past.. Fortune telling ability of Ashen, Iron Boots in the well at Ortaköy, Vision of St.Fanourios, The story of Yıldız the horse...In this part we are going to tell those stories of Vafiadis Family and remember the people.
Ashen the Fortuneteller ...
Have you ever heard about fortunetelling after drinking a cup of Turkish coffee ? It's oddly but in Turkey, it's popular to check your future from the coffee grounds for many years. You drink the coffee and turn upside down the cup, wait until it gets cooler, and give to the fortuneteller. Some of the fortunetellers tell by the shapes that they see. Some of them tell that they see visions in the cup.
As Aleko told his mother Ashen was famous by fortunetelling in her apartment. All of her neighbors were coming to her house to drink a Turkish coffee and of course to learn something about their future. The strange thing, Ashen never told that she saw visions in cup, or never told that she describes the shapes that she saw. She always told that she read Armenian words in the cup...
When Ashen saw something bad, she stopped fortunetelling and cleaned the cup. As my father Stavro told me, one day while she was telling fortunes to her neighbor, she stopped and called Stavro to clean the cup, and she told nothing. After her neighbor went, Stavro asked her the reason. Ashen told that her neighbors husband will die in a few days... Unfortunately it was true...
But how Ashen knew that, how she saw the future from a cup ? As she told, one day when she was child she saw a dream, a lady in white came and told her to make a coffee, drink and check the cup. Ashen woke up and did the orders. After she saw Armenian words in the cup.... She told that this was the day that she had this ability.
When Ashen was too old, she was sleeping on the sofa. Suddenly she woke up and called Stavro to prepare a cup of coffee. They've drank together. While she was checking the cup, she told Stavro ' It has finished, i can't see any words '. Then she told Stavro that she saw a dream, the lady in white visited her again and told her ' It's enough' ....
After we learnt there are other stories like that, and according to legend the 'lady in white' was the nursing mother of Prophet Mohammed which gives the ability of fortunetelling to people that she visited..but of course that's a legendary explanation of this situation.
Iron Boots in the Well...
* The photo is representative
Vafiadis family lived in Ortaköy for a long time, in a big house with a huge garden. As Aleko told before, every night they were hearing loud sounds of foot steps that comes from somewhere underground. At first they didn't afraid and waited for many days by expecting the sounds would stop. But it has never been stopped. Every night it continued, 'bam bam bam bam...'
They have started to afraid and they've called hodja from the mosque, priests from the church to investigate if it's something spooky. They all told that there is something in the well. As the well was deep, they've decided to call firefighters.
When firefighters went down in well, they've found a pair of iron boots... We don't know what happened to those boots, it would be good to have them in family relics.
The Vision of St.Fanourios
There are many strange and spooky stories from the past, which is hard to live nowadays. There were no televisions, mobile phones, computers...etc. People were talking each other, played games together to spent time. No crowded places, no light in the streets...Toilets were out of the houses, and people had to go outside in the middle of the night... And they saw many visions of strange people, animals, trees...etc. Maybe now we can explain this situation with psychology, physics...briefly with science. But in the past things were not like this and people explained those things with saints, ghosts, dwarves, elves, holy objects.
The vision of St.Fanourios was something like that Stavro Vafiadis and his grandmother Ashen saw together. I would like to write down this memory as Stavros told :
' ' We were coming home from the house of my family which was in Arnavutkoy. We have celebrated something that night and it was late. I was driving my car from seaside, and my grandmother was sitting on the front seat. We have arrived to Istinye, suddenly i saw a man on the road walking towards us. He was dressing like a beggar, old clothes and he had a long beard. I jammed on the brakes and stopped. He was still walking towards us, he came and sat on the bonnet and rised his forefinger up as showing something in the sky. I was shocked and got out of the car, but he vanished...I looked around but there was nobody. My grandmother was shocked too. We came home and after i tried to investigate this vision. Of course i went to the church to ask what could it be. The priest told me that, there was a holy spring in Istinye which belongs to St.Fanourios and most probably you saw him... After that vision i always think St.Fanourios as my protector saint. And it was strange that i can find the icon of St.Fanourios in any church like i put there with my own hands....'
There are many stories that we can hear from our ancestors or old people around. As told before, maybe we can explain those visions with science but it's better to hear them as strange legendary stories...
The Story of 'Yıldız' The Horse
Hurmuzios Vafiadis always loved animals. As he started to live in Ortaköy, he had a big garden and had many different animals, gorillas, parrots, bear, parrots, chickens and horses. They all had names, for example he called the gorillas as Hitler & Mussolini. The name of the horses were Yıldız ( means Star ) and Melek ( means Angel ) .
Yıldız belonged to Hurmuzios, and Melek was the horse of Aleko. I still remember, my grandfather Aleko always told me that he loved horses more than any animal. He always told his memories with Melek. We are lucky that we have one photo of Aleko as he was riding his horse.
Probably in 1950s, the government called the horses for military duty. It was normal as there were not many machines in Turkey, and in case of any war or military duty the horses were the key animals. Yıldız was one of them that called for duty. Aleko never mentioned for which war they called Yıldız, but most probably it was for Korean War. This doesn't mean they sent Yıldız to Korea, but maybe kept in Turkey. Anyway, Aleko was too upset as his and Melek’s best friend from his childhood was not with him anymore.
Years passed. There were no information about Yıldız, and Vafiadis family thought as it died... One day Vafiadis family went to Büyükada, known as Prinkipo and the biggest one in Prince Islands. The island was famous with phaetons. Aleko went to the area of phaetons and as he was walking around one of the horses started to fret. It was making different sounds, and was too excited. Aleko was shocked, looked carefully and recognized his best friend : It was Yıldız. The horse recognized Aleko that's why it was too excited. Aleko was too happy and started to cry. He found the owner of the phaeton, and asked him where he found this horse. The new owner told the story that he bought it from the sales of government. There was nothing to do...The conditions were different and Aleko couldn't buy it back from the owner. But he was happy to know that Yıldız was alive...
It's a sad and strange story that i heard directly from Aleko when he was alive. And learnt from him that friendship is not something only between humans, it's very possible between human and animals.
Written by : 2mi3, October 2018
* Revised on July 2020 with the story of Yıldız The Horse