Monday, February 28, 2011

The Peshmerga Dream

Sazan M. Mandalawi

The Kurdish Globe
By Sazan M. Mandalawi

I go to sleep thinking about the Peshmerga dream

I acted like the lovely Kurdish girl--the type of girl who treats guests like royalty (even though the guests we had tonight were royalty in their own way)"you know, the girl who keeps serving tea and goes back to ask who wants another pyala (a small glass Kurds serve tea in) every 10 minutes. The girl who brings the fruits, brings the forks and knives, goes back to bring the sweets and keeps going back and forth. Let me be honest, I was not doing this out of good deed--I was being nosy to listen to every word that was said in the reunion that took place in our family room.

The reunion, after so many years, was between my father and two friends who were together during their Peshmerga years. I realize that a while back these three men ate, slept, drank and fought side by side. Their lives drifted in different directions--one to Australia, another to Germany, and the other to Sweden. Now, all unite in the capital city of Kurdistan.

I hear stories of pranks, stolen chickens, jokes based on real events, arguments, celebrations, and times of great sadness.

There is something amazing that I pick up during my close observation or examination--of the reunion of these three individuals. Kurdish men speak more with their gestures and facial expressions than words. I enjoy looking at their expressions and hand actions as they retell stories; they live back in the exact same moment. As they speak, the shine in their eyes says something to me. It says: "I wish for those moments to return." This raises many questions in my mind. What was so special about those days" That is, those days when they confronted death.

Today, unfortunately, the meaning of Peshmerga is not what it ought to be and the characteristics differ. The respect they deserve is often gone astray. The Peshmerga of yesterday, with their strength and devotion to this nation, differ greatly to the Peshmerga of today. I wish for the same spirit that was in the hearts of the three men to exist today, but it has faded.

What amazes me is that while being at the forefront of death, these men enjoyed their lives. In the bitterest times they found sweet moments. They lived in poverty, they ate in the houses of villagers, they endured cold winters, sleepless nights, and traveled by feet long distances. They lived not concerned for the risks they were taking. They had one mission, one aim, one dream.

Their diet was couscous on most occasions. I shriek as the valiant men laugh, remembering the night they grilled a snake for dinner. During dinner time at our place, the same men who were once fit and strong and admit to eating snakes refuse to have oil on their rice or even eat meat due to fears of cholesterol and diabetes.

There are a number of old pictures with little stains and tears on the edges; they try to name some of the others in the picture and talk of their whereabouts today. The handsome men in the pictures with thick, fluffy black hair are in front of me now with no hair. And the hair they do have can be counted easily in their tones of grey and white.

What made me feel so touched, in my corner looking from above the laptop, was that the facial expressions somehow wished for those days to return. But the days are goe, and only memories remain. During that night, I go to sleep thinking about the Peshmerga dream. Years ago the dream of our Peshmerga was not for themselves, but for us. We are living their dream today.

However, I realize that ex-Peshmerga now have dreams for themselves, and what is funny is that--like before-they all share the same dream. That dream consists of a village on a mountaintop, a small cottage house, a bunch of chickens, a rooster and a herd of sheep. That, my dear reader, is what an ex-Peshmerga wishes for, now that their dream from the mountain days has come true.

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