At the present time, rewarded for his past merits by many decorations which have proved to be ‘not ephemeral’, he somehow lives out his remaining years in a small and insignificant place in Egypt, with the title of the Great Turkish Pasha. It must be said that he chose such a solitary spot as his dwelling-place for his old age, in spite of having the means to live wherever he pleased and to enjoy all the comforts of present-day life, chiefly because he wished to avoid the importunities of idle people and their curiosity—a property unworthy of man which has become inherent in most of our contemporaries.
The first time I met Ekim Bey was when he was still quite young. He was a student in a military school in Germany and had come, as he always did, to spend the summer with his father in Constantinople. We were of the same age.
Before describing the circumstances in which I met him, I must say that, in the period before my first visit to Echmiadzin and my meeting with Pogossian, related in a previous chapter, when I was still being chased about everywhere like a harassed dog, seeking answers to the questions arising in my brain—which according to the notions of most contemporary people had become sick with psychopathy—I also happened to go to Constantinople, drawn by rumours of numerous marvels supposed to be performed by the dervishes there.
On my arrival at Constantinople I arranged to stay in the district called Pera and went from there to visit the monasteries of various dervish orders. Living at that time in the company of these ‘dervish zealots’, and of course not being occupied with anything practical and thinking about nothing except all kinds of dervish nonsense, one gloomy day, I clearly recognized without any illusions that very soon I would have absolutely no what-is-called ‘dough’.
After realizing this fact, I went about for a couple of days far from carefree, while all the time thoughts swarmed beneath my cranium, like the favourite flies of Spanish mules, about how to get hold of that contemptible something which for contemporary man is almost the sole stimulus of his life.