Sunday, July 31, 2011

Behind every Kurdish freedom fighter...

Sunday Memoirs

We always speak of our Peshmarga, the young men who fought across mountains in the worst conditions. The individuals who put their life at the forefront of death, the brave men--and of course women--who sacrificed for their nation. At commemorations, as Kurds we remember and recognize their endurance and suffering. We appreciate their sacrifices, and are thankful for their deeds.

Today, as I witnessed the mourning ceremony for the late Mrs. Hamayil Barzani many thoughts provoke my emotional heart and mind. This is not just a commemoration of the president's mother, but maybe even the mother of this nation. Barzani, and many others like herself have made me reflect on our Kurdish mothers.

No one can, or will deny the strength, courage, power, belief and loyalty of our Peshmarga. As young Kurds, we will forever show our gratitude. But behind every Peshmarga, behind every great freedom fighter, there was a greater mother, a warrior.

It was the Peshmarga who fought with no fear of death, but it was the mother who had to deal with the news of his death.

It was the Peshmarga who left home for the mountains, but it was the mother who raised the children in his absence.

It was the Peshmarga who went through mental anguish, but it was the mother whose words provided the healing.

It was the Peshmarga who suffered the physical wounds, but it was the mother who lived with the pain and carried the scar.

The mothers endured the difficulty of moving city to city, and country to country. This movement was not in the luxury of an airport with luggage that had wheels. The moving of a Kurdish mother consisted of crossing borders in the worst weather conditions, sometimes while being shelled.

There is no award on earth that is sufficient enough to be presented to the mothers of this nation. There is no deed that can be done to show our appreciation, thank you for their endurance is just a word. What will bring back their lost sons and husbands, What will bring back the joy of our mothers who didn't get to enjoy their youth?

As we commit to memory the life of a symbolic Kurdish mother, at the same time I salute every other Kurdish mother. I have memories of those I have met, and the stories they have shared with me as they go through the beads of the rosary in their hands, one by one, with their long, thin fingers. The veins lay close the surface of the skin of the shaky hands.

I salute the mother who had to rebuild her demolished house time after time.

The mother who survived fleeing her house in fear of bombardment -- not knowing that she would come back, and if she returned: would the house still be there?

The mother who had to hide her young son in the clay oven outside the house, with her heart beating a thousand times a minute in fear that the guard with the thick mustache would open the lid to find him.

The mother who hugged her son in the hopes she will see him in 15 minutes, but the tears in her eyes would not stop until the moment of her death 15 years later as that hug was the last she saw of him before being tortured, imprisoned and then killed.

The mother whose son died at the forefront of war, and the same day she buried him, she pointed out her grave next to his body.

Salute to the mother who endured physical torture in prison while being pregnant.

To the mother who lost three sons and her husband at the same time.

Salute to every mother, and the wife of every martyr who raised children to have influential roles in today's Kurdistan.

For every Kurdish mother, and grandmother, alive or dead, I salute you!

This was this week's column at the Kurdish Globe, you can see it here

Monday, July 18, 2011

A walk with Kani to the Kani...

Sunday Memoirs
Kani* is a young girl, and the daughter of a close family friend. She has plump, pink cheeks, a long black ponytail reaching her lower back and when she smiles, she reveals her two lopsided front teeth, showing a little of decay as well.

The ponytail sways side to side as she walks a little in front of me. Kani is taking me for a walk in her village to the nearby kani (freshwater spring). She is a city girl with roots in the village, she knows her way around well -- what could one possibly learn when walking with a 10-year-old Kurdish girl?
As we walk to the Kani a number of girls from the village joined the walk..
Typical, and not surprising, we greet every single man, woman and child we pass during the walk. Most of them know Kani, and I listen as the 10-year-old repeats the same replies. Some of the women kiss me as well, and even ask me to send their regards to "home" (my family) and they don't even know me, nor do they know my family.
I follow Kani, taking a shortcut
She takes me through a shortcut around the corner from the mosque and through the gardens of her relatives. An elderly woman calls out to Kani, I tag along, the woman uses the palms of both her hands to hold my cheeks before she gives me a generous number of kisses. She insists we sit at the porch, swearing that she won't let us go. I doubt any person can refuse her request. A sweet lady, with wrinkles; a hinged, C-shaped back and I can tell she has long, thick, red-colored hair under her veil.

The elderly woman and her little heaven
We sit on a red mat at the porch, looking at a colorful garden in the foreground of a breathtaking mountain backdrop. The garden of the woman is stunning -- If I knew exactly what heaven looked like, I would probably compare it to this. I feel she is a queen in a kingdom. I truly believe the little garden in front of the porch is definitely her kingdom. She has separated the different areas. In some areas, it is neatly divided into small squares -- an area for fruits, another for vegetables, a square for the onions. The trees are on the edges, evenly spaced. She reaches up and then pulls down a branch and reaches out to give me a fruit I haven't tasted before. It's sour.
Getting close to the Kani

By the time Kani and I reached the kani (the spring), our two-person walk becomes a primary school's excursion. Like a train, through the walk, we've picked up passengers until we reach the final destination.

I realized the kani is full of beautiful girls. Women who had come to get water, others who had come to wash dishes; the kani is where the cold water flows -- crystal clear and it even tastes different. The kani is where women come to catch up on gossip, where the girls meet for a chat, where they make their plans and talk about the problems related to the crops and the animals.

It is by the kani, in the camouflage of trees, that the deepest secrets of the village lay. It is where a mother asks another mother for her daughter's hand for her son. It is by the kani where the Kurdish dress is put under the rope belt and white feet are put into the cold water during the hottest gossip. It is near the kani that Romeo hides to get a peek of Juliet. The kani, for a city girl, is just another version of a coffee shop. 
A walk to remember...

Every Sunday I am going to start putting up on the blog my weekly column that is published in the Kurdish Globe