To my Mother, who’s asleep tonight…
One night, I dreamed of being in class and learning about justice and freedom. But then suddenly I was awakened by the deafening sound of a grenade hitting our front yard and shattering my dream, as well as those of my classmates. I stood and ran and ran towards the front door in hopes of saving myself and my little sister. But it turned out that everything outside of that door was also in ruins. There was no escape.
The haunting image of our neighbors fleeing to save their lives is engraved in my memory. Strangely, I felt an extreme warmth in my body. But unlike the warmth of your embrace, this heat made me scream in terror and pain. I looked down and saw my weak body burning yellow. I jumped around and around, but no one seemed to hear or see me. They were too busy with their own wounds to notice my undernourished body slowly melting away. But suddenly, the grace of someone’s blanket put out the flames of Turkey’s unexplainable loathing towards us.
On my way to the hospital in uncle’s old pickup truck, I thought that if I knelt in front of the soldiers, held up my arms, and asked for forgiveness over and over again, they would stop bombarding us. But then I remembered Father’s advice: “Don’t ever ask forgiveness for mistakes you haven’t made.”
Is being a Kurd, and simply existing, a crime? If yes, then let be it, Mother. The earlier flames shook my pride and truly woke me up. I suddenly felt the urge to get my freedom back, so I shouted your name — KURDISTAN!! — with all my might. Uncle tried to shush me, but he too knew that enough was enough. So he let me cry and scream all I wanted.
At the hospital, they laid me down on one of those metal-framed beds, rusted from bearing the pain of hundreds of other innocent souls corrupted with terror in the last 10 days. After treating me with love and reassurance, the next day a doctor told me that I was on the front page of all the newspapers. I was worried that yet again, people were going to be merely vocal about the situation, but without doing anything. I felt we were only being used for the magazine and newspaper covers, so that they wouldn’t be empty. I was afraid of becoming the hot news of the day, but becoming cold once the day passed. Were they really using my broken body for the sake of gaining sympathy? But I remained hopeful.
“Can they finally see me? Tell them not to worry, I’m Kurdish. Not even chemicals can dissolve me. If I die, there’s more of me. But no! I won’t give up…” The other three members of my family are cheering me on, but I couldn’t finish my words because someone brought my teacher into the room. He was also yellow, he was also laid flat on a metal bed, he was also screaming Mother’s name.
I wiped my tears and asked for a pen and a paper. I started writing a letter to God, telling him of Rojava’s miserable life…
I’m writing you to tell you about me and my poor Mother. Turkey is attacking us yet again. They want to wipe us out. They’re saying we’ve crossed their border. From the Islamic State attacking and dehumanizing us, to the Turks taking advantage of the situation to take away our homes, to now using chemical weapons on us, we’ve been sacrificing everything for just our safety. Yet the loud voices talking about basic human rights are faint to us. We can’t hear any of them. We can only see the backs of the US troops who are leaving our borders.
With each ally leaving, we see an enemy replacing them. We have been trying to free ourselves, to regain ownership over ourselves, to put an end to this genocide. Our desire to survive and unite seems to come in the way of a certain country’s instinct to control us. They can’t kill us themselves, so they’re using Turkey to get the dirty work done.
There is much more to say, but my feelings are swallowing my words. The situation is bad and we’re getting tired. I see a long road ahead of us. I want to survive.
Dear God, what excellent thing do you have in store for us that you’re letting us suffer like this? It must be freedom. There is no greater gift than freedom for us, the Rojava people.