I have read about wars, Holocausts, Pograms, involuntary slavery but this book, The Gendarme is different. I suppose it is the way Mark T. Mustian chose to tell the story. We hear and see through the eyes of Ahmet, an old man, ninety-two years old. At this age he is a widower suffering with a tumor on the brain. His memories and dreams interweave with his present reality. He is left confused wondering what is real and what is not real. As he rebraids the pieces of his life, he remembers among all the brutality a particular young woman named Araxie. Ahmet is Turkish. Araxie is Armenian. Like most elderly people Ahmet is beginning to regret his deeds of the past. After all, he tried to rape young Araxie. He murdered her father in front of her eyes. This one woman, Araxie, with the strange eyes will through memory become forever alive in the memory of Ahmet. Perhaps, she is one of the rare yet honorable witnesses of mistakes made by him during the war. "Am I now like the man who sees too late, his own errors?"
What is haunting about the novel is Araxie's eyes. Each of her eyes is different in color. One eye is blue. The other eye is darker. Araxie's eyes in a way become the conscience of Ahmet. He is far away from Europe living in America, Florida, and this woman's face is with him. He can not forget her. He can not forget anything that happened to her during that time. Ahmet relives what he would choose not to remember. However, there is something inside of him, that never really wants to forget Araxie. He wants not only to remember her. He wants to find her. He wants to share his present life with her. Ahmet wants to find out what has happened to her since the war. Ahmet wants closure. So, Mark T. Mustian begins the journey of an old gendarme from Florida to New York.
The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian helped me see through layman's terms the complexity of the human mind. Memory and aging, I believe, will leave intellectuals baffled over and over again. A well mind is beyond understanding. When the brain becomes injured, there is a new set of facts to study. Since the mind is so intricate, I am sure our scientists, doctors, authors, musicians will continue to wonder about the brain. This leaves mankind with hope that the elderly sitting or lying in a facility might some day know how to unravel the memories that seem so tangled today. I would like to thank Mark T. Mustian for telling a little bit of his own story. He tells why he wrote The Gendarme. Also, he shares his travels with the reader. All of which made a rich book that much richer in substance. I will remember the story for a long time because Araxie eyes followed me too. "She stares, like the blind."