Voice of Conscience by Behcet Kaya

conscience2Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Revenge is defined as “the act of taking vengeance for injuries or wrongs; retaliation.” We all know that revenge, if we let it, will keep gnawing away at one until it almost destroys a life. Keep this in mind as you read this book.

This novel takes place in Atamkoy which is located in northeastern Turkey. The reader is introduced to the Ozocomert Family. They have a son, Ramzi, and a beautiful daughter, Erin. As is the tradition in this culture, families normally arrange marriages for their children. The Korucu family wants to make arrangements for their son to marry Erin. However, she wants to marry the man she really loves. The Ozocomert Family denies their request.

Ramzi is now old enough to go with his father on a logging trip. Ramzi was looking forward to this trip as he wanted to prove himself to his father. When a tree almost fell on his father, Ramzi jumped on top of him. Ramzi’s father often wondered what would happen if he were no longer around. After this trip, he now had no doubt in his mind that Ramzi, Jr. would be able to handle everything that might come his way.

Then something terrible happened. Ramzi Sr., his wife and their daughter, Erin were murdered. As mourners gathered for prayers, an old man stated “Of all human weaknesses, none is more destructive, or unprofitable as intikam, vengeance.” He continued by saying “vengeance offers nothing and takes everything.” Ramzi, Jr. knew he had to leave or he would be the next one to be killed. The way Ramzi, Jr. was brought up will play a major role in his will to survive. After all, it was a tradition to “teach young boys the tricks of hide and seek”.

Ramzi boarded a train and began his journey to start a new life. While on the train he met many travelers who were seated in his compartment. Among them were a brother and sister who carried on a conversation that got a little heated at times. A merchant who was also there got involved in the conversation and made the remarks “Animals are instinctively driven, while man has conscience and respect for the law of the land.” This statement really brought out many emotions in Ramzi as he thought about the terrible tragedy that happened to his family. Ramzi did not know what was happening to him. He now realized that all of his customs, traditions and everything dealing with his family have now turned to dust. He finally got control over his emotions and knew he had to forget the fears and think about the future.

While on the train, a pickpocket stole Ramzi’s wallet. With the help of a Colonel who was a passenger on the train, the thief was caught. The colonel held the thief while Ramzi punched away at him. Ramzi realized that for the first time in his life he felt really good. This was the feeling of revenge.

Upon his arrival, Ramzi’s plan was to go to the home of Safki Ozturk, a distant relative of his mother. His wife, Nazmiye, was a distant relative of Ramzi’s father. Nazmiye warmly greeted Ramzi but Safki told him he was not running a hotel. Through Nazmiye’s coaching, Safki decided to let Ramzi stay.

During the next several years, Ramzi became Safki’s assistant. The business was growing. In his spare time, he finished his schooling and took English lessons.

Ramzi became quite concerned when he heard an ambulance and saw a large crowd gathered. One of the men he worked with, Husnu, was being placed into the ambulance. Now he wondered. Was this a case of mistaken identity? Was he the one who should be in the ambulance? After all, he felt he and Husnu did look somewhat alike. Did his enemies find him?

In order to help pay for his schooling, Ramzi worked at the Texas Pancake House. A beautiful woman came in and caught the eye of many of the male waiters. It almost became a contest to see which one would be able to get a date with Megan. After several failed attempts by the other waiters, it was now Ramzi’s turn to wait on her. He did manage to get her to agree to go on a date with him. It took no time for them to fall in love. Megan could not get over how Ramzi reminded her of her father.

Ramzi and Megan got married and had children. He worked for Megan’s father and they lived in his house. Ramzi did not like this arrangement because he always felt he was being scrutinized by Megan’s father. One day he decided it was time to start his own business. With Megan’s father’s approval, he did just that and became quite successful.

Ramzi, now in his forties, had a successful business, a beautiful wife and lovely children. However, something was not right. Ramzi wondered what was wrong with him. He kept having nightmares about the way his parents and sister died. His “thoughts of revenge filled his soul, the voice of conscience constantly reminding him”. He did not want any more time to slip away before he was too old to do something about this terrible tragedy. He decided on a course of action.

What did Ramzi decide to do and what was the end result?

The author does an excellent job with his descriptive writing. He not only describes his characters in great detail but also creates a picture for the reader about everything from what the family is eating to what traditions they might be following at that very moment. Behcet Kaya has created a protagonist that is so filled with feelings of revenge that life could not be normal even though he had everything one could want. I have read many books but have never experienced the great detailed writing that this author provides.

Voice of Conscience is a story that is rich with traditions and customs. Readers will be awed by the insights the author provides especially when the family is preparing for Erin’s wedding and how everyone in the town is involved. He really brings everything to life and makes it seem so real for the reader. This story brings out all the emotions one can have including everything from love to hate.

Behcet Kaya is a great storyteller. Readers will be engrossed as they read this well-written book. The author has the special ability to tell the readers just enough to keep them interested and at the same time keep them captivated by not giving too much away. Be prepared for a surprise ending.

This novel is a Shakespearean Tragedy done at its best. I can imagine this story as a big screen movie. Voice of Conscience is story the reader will not forget.

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