grandfather Dies To Save Family Honour

Speaking of roots (see blog below), I’ve been busy digging mine up. Here’s the interesting story I uncovered…

The women of my grandmother’s and great grandmother’s generation often had two or three marriages in their lifetimes because their husband’s would go off to war and not come home. My grandmother (nene) and namesake, Behiye Suren, lost her first husband under more mysterious circumstances. He died when he was only 25 years old.

My grandfather (dede) married my nene a couple of weeks after he asked for her hand in marriage. He was in a hurry to tie the knot because she was the town beauty and he wanted to keep others from stealing her hand while he was away on compulsory military service. She was pregnant by the time he left the village. After his first son was born, dede returned home from the army to see his new baby and nene was pregnant again with my father by the time he left.

On his second visit home to meet dad, dede died. They say he went to bed with a fever, took some pills and never woke up. Unfortunately, nobody kept medical records at the time. Did he have a heart attack, a stroke, a blood clot to the brain because of a reaction to the medicine, nobody can say. But what they do say with conviction is that he committed suicide, in order to save his family’s honour.

In the honour/shame system that was dominant at the time, unfortunate women who were suspected of having intimate relations with a man outside of marriage were killed by their own family members. However in some cases, the family shame was so hard to bear that the men who couldn’t bring themselves to kill their sisters would kill themselves instead, in order to ‘purify’ the family name again.

While he had been away on military duty, my dede’s sister ran off with his best friend. When dede came home and heard the news, he was apparently so heartbroken and tormented that he took an overdose of pills to kill himself.

With one son not yet 2 years old, another only 40 days old and a wife to look after, would he seriously have killed himself to save the honour of the ‘Suren’ name? I personally don’t believe it’s possible. Perhaps because I can’t fathom such a reality, it goes against everything I believe in and just seems so implausible to my modern day brain. I have tried asking for medical details but haven’t had any luck finding anything concrete yet.