The Kurdish Globe
By Sazan M. Mandalawi
You can call it Mastaw, but I call it Memoirs.
For three years I wrote a column for the Kurdish Globe about little encounters in my life in Kurdistan after spending my childhood far from this place called home. When I wrote my last column titled "Good Bye" as soon as it was published my inbox flooded with emails. With each one I read I knew there had to be a return to those 600 words at the back page of the paper. Here I am today, making that return.
When I wrote the final column I was a student in the UK. I remember clearly one particular night. It was very late and I had just returned from the library. Exhausted, but content enough that I had just printed off one of my final papers.
At that moment I received an email from the United States which included a letter from a Kurdish prisoner. I read the first paragraph and began sniffing, by the time I finished that email a river of tears flowed down my cheeks. I resorted to the songs of Homer Dizayee and Karim Kaban until sunrise, that night I did not sleep. My loyal reader who was in prison began his letter with "Dear Mastawchi" I laughed, as I knew too well that he had read my column long enough to use the word Mastawchi* as I had made reference to the term in a number of my articles.
"Your memories many times made me smile, other times brought tears to my eyes," Wrote the prisoner. It made me tearful to realize when I spoke of freedom, and flying to the nest (Kurdistan) my words were reaching to a man behind bars on another continent in the world. In his letter he expressed his thoughts about my words on the beauty of life in Kurdistan, "Most of the time I had feelings and thoughts similar to yours. Whenever I received Kurdish Globe I always ran to the last page to read your memories, I never started from the first page!"
"Please keep writing. Mastaw is our national Kurdish drink, all Kurds love Mastaw, and your memories were our Mastaw. Many Kurds like myself who live in handaran* far away from our beloved land, love it and drink it. That is the Mastaw you made, and that is why I call you Mastawchi."
This is one story. Many others wrote to me, their words inspired me and touched my heart. Every time I read an email I would think to myself that I am not alone. There are people who also believe that Kurdistan has little beauties that its people appreciate.
My story is simple. As a family we went to exile where I spent my childhood years. Then, the same family after the fall of the regime in Baghdad made a decision to permanently return to Kurdistan. First I was lost, then I was discovering, soon I fell in love with the place I was discovering. Not long later I became a bird flying out of Kurdistan, though it remained to be my nest.
Now, the lifetime decision has been made. Kurdistan and I will be staying together till death does us apart. The "Memoirs" is simply the little everyday thoughts, feelings and encounters that I come across as a young Kurdish girl in a society that is in the making. This column is probably the stories that I will tell my children in the future, it is the little incidents that give meaning to my life and the life of many others.
Passion and love are the keys to existence. So often mere facts do not complete the picture; Thoughts, emotions, ideas and encounters are what I express. You can call it Mastaw, but I call it Memoirs.
*Mastawchy in Kurdish refers to a person who flatters others. Mastaw refers to a yoghurt drink that Kurds enjoy in particular in the summers months.
*Handaran- the Kurdish word referring to diaspora