Kurdish Land – in progress

When I was a child my father taught me to respect the mountains. Waking up in the middle of the night to see the sunrise from the mountaintop seemed, at the time, like pointless suffering. We did not lose time having breakfast because “you don’t eat before going to the mountains,” my father explained. He would put a few pieces of chocolate in my pocket for when I got hungry. Even in summer it was still dark and cold. Along the first part of the path I slept on his shoulders. Halfway up, at first light, I’d jump down and start chattering. My father would remind me to be respectful, “you don’t shout in the mountains.”

 

Throughout my entire childhood, I was confronted with his dedication, and the spirit of self-immolation to fatigue he tried, with much effort, to instil in me, although I considered such attitude irrational and devoid of pleasure – to the point I spurned it. Many years later, on the mountains of Kurdistan, I came across the same sacred gaze again – the same as my father’s. Reflecting pride, patience, solitude. Now, as then, the respect that ties these mountain people to their land is a value that has been guarded for generations. Like my father, the Kurds are proud of their mountains. They are more than a haven, they are the mirror of their existence. Through them, they earn a place in this world, a practical explanation to difficult issues, a justification for the injustices they suffered. Thanks to the mountains, they gain a reason to live. Their inhabitants make the mountains.

 

Thirst for freedom. Collective illusion. Regrets about the war. Historical interpretations. Forced introjection. Whatever the lens through which one looks into the soul of the Kurdish people may be, the mountains are the leitmotiv of a narration whose origins are to be traced very far away. Like a skein, that cover the whole room in fine threads as it unrolls, mountains possess an arcane power of spiritual immersion. Underground, they guard the roots of a population always in search of itself, longing for emancipation to give its collective actions a meaning. But roots are also labels, readily attached to a sense of frustration for failing to become what one wants to be. They can also be tangible limits, and preclude the exercise of personal freedom. They can be manipulated to pursuit utopias, resulting in loss and violence.

 

In the villages, yellow flowers, apple trees, inside the houses, boiled potatoes, it’s snowing outside, sit by the fire. “Dad, they are not that different from your mountains”.

Kurdish land.

 

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