From Aghin: Scene

Background/Introduction: May, 1915. A scene from the screenplay “From Aghin”. It is thirty days into the forced march of Armenians deported from the village of Aghin during the Great War (World War I).
Alma: Female protagonist
Perjamush: Alma’s mother
Seta: Alma’s aunt
Dalita: Alma’s sister

Dalita’s young son
Lilli: Alma’s sister-in-law
Rajah: Armenian male



A voice whispering an Armenian prayer.

Rain DROWNS OUT the prayer.

A sharp intake of breath.

CLOSE ON: Alma opens her eyes. She is sitting in the mud. THUD of rain. Her hair is stringy, wet, hanging over her eyes. She looks around, and

PAN TO: Seta, terribly ill, WRACKED WITH COUGHS, leaning against Perjamush. Lilli, cross-legged, holding her pregnant belly, WINCING. Dalita, holding Bab in her lap. All are gaunt, clothing is in a state of ragged decay.

Rajah arrives, cloaked. He stands before them tensely.

I need help. You must help me.

No response. They barely acknowledge his presence.

(growing desperation)
The officials are cleansing the caravan of the remaining men, taking us into the mountains to be shot!

Rajah turns to Perjamush. Grabs her.

Do you hear me? Where is your money? I need it! Do you understand? They will find me, kill me!

CUT TO: View over Rajah’s shoulder. Uniformed OFFICIALS walking through the camp, prodding individuals.

Run away. We cannot help you.

You lie! You have money!

Rajah rips at Perjamush’s dress, her hair, looking for coins.

RAJAH (cont’d)
Where is it, you bitch?

Rajah, stop!

Rajah stops.

Come. I can help you.

CUT TO: Alma removes a muddied blanket from herself.

Hide under this.

Are you crazy?

VOICE of an official nearing. Rajah, startled, crawls under the blanket. Alma covers him.

Two frowning officials in uniforms that have gone gray with rain appear. They do not notice the blanket, but look down at Bab in Dalita’s arms.

How old is the child?

He is four.

There is an orphanage in Malatia. We can take him for you. He will be cared for.

         Dalita’s grip on Bab tightens.

                 Perjamush straightens herself up eagerly.

An orphanage? Will he be fed there?

Mother, leave it be.

Hush, girl! Bab can be saved!

  (turning to the officials)
We are sick, don’t you see?

Alma points to Seta who is frail and ill, and to Rajah’s unmoving form beneath the blanket.

The fever has taken hold of them, and us as well. The boy is infected too. It is only a matter of time.

(to the other official)
Come. There are others.

Wait --- we are not sick! No, wait!

The officials walk on. Perjamush attempts to stop them, but they PUSH her to the ground where she folds like a dying flower and weeps. She turns to Alma, mud dripping from her clothing.

How could you! How ---

Are you blind? They are LYING. There is no orphanage here. There is no food, no shelter. It is a trick!

Alma is right, mother.

But the child – look at him.
  (her voice breaks)
He is so frail.

Would you hand Bab to the devil if he offered fruit?


They took our homes, and then our men, and now our children? No. Death will come before I allow them to take anything more from us.

Our men will come.
Alma grabs Perjamush’s hand, drags her to Rajah. She pulls the blanket off of him. He looks up.

What do you know?

Rajah stares silently up at the women.

ALMA (cont’d)
Caravans are arriving daily full of sick and dying Armenians. They are penning us in here like rats. But where are the men? Where are OUR men? Our fathers, brothers, husbands?

Alma kneels close to Rajah

ALMA (cont’d)
You KNOW. I have seen it in your eyes during the march. I see it now. The gendarmes made us leave the men behind, but you escaped. What happened to them?

CUT TO: Rajah’s eyes. The truth is there.

Rajah begins to WEEP bitterly. He speaks, but his words are too soft to hear.

What did you say?

They are dead. DEAD. All of them! All of the men from our village, from Aghin.  

  (a hiss)
You lie.   

I saw their bodies in the river the morning after I escaped… the morning the caravan departed. They had been slaughtered like animals.

FLASHBACK TO: Rajah emerging from the woods by a river. In the distance, a caravan slowly winds away from the village.

PAN TO: The riverbed --- littered with the bodies of Armenian men.

CUT TO: An ashen face of one of the men in death. Rajah, shocked, stumbling backwards as voices approach. He throws his hood up to cover his face and runs towards the caravan.

CUT TO (PRESENT): Perjamush falls to her knees. She GRABS Rajah roughly.

You lying bastard! You lying bastard! I’ll kill you!

Rajah does not fight back --- a SCREAM.

It is Lilly. She is clutching her stomach.

Oh God!

She rushes to Lilli.

  (to himself)
God? There is no God! God would not allow this to happen. He would not allow them to take everything from us and leave us like dogs.

Alma looks down at Rajah. She pushes him to the ground. She straddles him.

They have not taken everything. Not yet.

CUT TO: Rajah’s face. Alma grabs his hair, pushes his head back.

I will not let them be the first to take me.

Rajah does not speak. Alma touches his cheek.

You are clean.

CUT TO: Intertwined scenes: Lilly, struggling to have her baby with the help of Dalita and Perjamush. Alma, struggling with Rajah.

CLOSE ON: Lilli and Alma’s faces. Both show pain.

CUT TO: Alma, her back arched.

SMASH CUT TO: Lilli’s baby, covered in blood. The WAIL of the newborn.

SMASH CUT TO: A sharp rock in Perjamush’s hand. She cuts the umbilical cord.

SMASH CUT TO: Alma’s face. Rain runs down it. She is sitting on the ground, her stare vacant. Rajah is gone.

CUT TO: Perjamush, handing the baby to Lilli. Alma kneels beside her. After a moment, Lilli hands the crying baby to Alma.

Alma. Take my daughter away from here.

Does she have a name?

Lilli looks up at Alma, her eyes full of sorrow. She does not answer.

Alma leaves with the infant cradled in her arms, an object clutched in one of her hands.

The rain THUDS down around Alma as she walks through the camp of moaning deportees. She slowly stops. A voice whispers an Armenian prayer nearby. Alma stands beside a dark, empty well.

CUT TO: Alma’s hand clutching a sharp rock like a weapon.

The baby cries as Alma sets her down on the side of the well.

Alma raises the rock to strike, but cannot bring herself to do it. With a shaking hand she drops the rock to the ground.

Weeping, Alma picks the crying newborn up.

CUT TO: Alma’s feet as she steps onto the side of the well.

Alma peers down. Blackness. Pebbles slide from under her feet into the darkness below.

CUT TO: Alma closes her eyes tightly. A sharp intake breath.