Where do I live?


creative Partner  Julia Pascal

reader  Saria Steyl

I was born in Kurdistan in a village near the border with Armenia. On the map the village is pictured on the north eastern side of Turkey. This is a lie. It is in Kurdistan. 

I am young and I hear my parents talking, secretly, about a young woman with a rope around her neck. Something in me wakes up.

My father has seven brothers. They say to my father why send a girl to school? Father says a girl must learn.

At school the teacher says why you not speak Turkish?

At home they ask me why you speak Turkish?

The hanging woman is 21. Her voice is the music of Kurdistan. That is why they murder her. The Turkish soldiers, they make us watch. Mother’s voice

Shush, don’t talk about it. You didn’t see nothing.

And then it starts. My brother and my sister, they go to train with my aunt. In the mountains. My brother’s friend. He gives me Kurdish newspapers to take to the  villages. I wear a long dress but no veil. My uncle he gives me a letter. Take that to Ali. Take it but give it to nobody else.

I am the granddaughter of a rich man. An Armenian baker. When people hear that I am also Armenian, they give me respect. The Turks killed the Armenians.

I train with other girls. The Turks are coming. We must be ready. The Turks take us. I go to prison for two weeks. I am 12. When I come home from prison my mother says I saw you. What happened? I say nothing. I feed the bird. I kiss her new baby.

The car is coming. We go to the car. We are five girls and two boys. They take us to our army. We stay in a very big room for two days. Another car comes. We go to the mountains. It’s cold. I miss my bed, my sister, my mother. But I can’t go back. 

In the training camp, there are Kurds from Germany. There was a handsome man. Not Kurdish. We will die for the Kurdish people. We live on the mountain. I cannot eat. I get sick.

They send me away. For academic training for a long month. We have to help Kurds in the villages. Some have Turkish spies. They tell the government. Turkish soldiers. They kill. Twenty eight of us. They burn the bodies in acid.

We move to Agri mountains. We are three. A woman, a boy and me. We have one horse. Border. Iran!

Mud and water. Jump! Quicksands!! Bodies sucked into sands. Turkish soldiers. Gun shot. The woman before me has run onto a mine. I fall. Blood. The horse. Legs blown off. I want to get up. I can’t. For four days I am in an Iranian village. I have nothing to eat. Someone gives me something to cover myself. Chador. 

One year in Iran. Recruiting girls to the Kurdish side. I go to Armenia. Six months in Erevan. I am fighting for us Kurds. Iraq, Syria, Turkey.

I am tired. I have to stop.

I miss the talking, sitting, talking about politics, life. One woman she does not like men. Doctors, nurses, solicitors. Everyone’s story is different. Kurds from Russia, Germany, UK, Armenia, France, Iraq, Syria.

Injury in face, hands. I have surgery on my face, six months My leader says I must contact family. I forgot my address. Where do I live?

I come to England. The Kurdish songs, the woman with the rope, the bodies burning in acid. They come with me.


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