As a young child I was always amazed by the experiences of my father and the stories he told me as I sat on his lap. He would continue speaking as my eyelids closed and I fell asleep in his arms. The person I am today is a result of the endless talks and stories that he whispered in my ears before I fell asleep every night as I spent my childhood continents away from a place called home.
Every story began with: “My dear daughter…at that time….”
As I grew up I began to fear that there was nothing for me to pass to my children, if I ever had any. I feared that my experiences were not exciting enough to pass on. I began to find the stories of my parents inspiring and interesting, and each had a deep meaning about the beauty and lessons of life.
As I flip through the pages of a draft book I have been working on, I realize that since the past four years–after my return to Kurdistan–I have had the most tremendous experiences and witnessed many historic events. I too will tell stories that begin with “My dear daughter… at that time….”
I will tell her how I came in my teenage years to Erbil and how I grew up in it. I grew watching the development of roads, bridges, and buildings that grow taller and higher every day. I will say: “You see that building over there? I watched it being built.”
A great number of my experiences are happy memories: I watched Barzani and Talabani shake hands and refer to each other as brothers. I took pictures as the French foreign minister opened the French consulate in Erbil. I was there when the wheel spun for the first time as our oil started to “glug” through pipelines. I saw the rise of an opposition in our Parliament for the first time.
I lived the day where for the first time a Kurd became the President of Iraq. I saw prime ministers come into Cabinet and leave. I visited Koreans as they built and finished the largest public library in the Region. I listened as Halabja was finally recognized as genocide. I watched as record number of women took oath to be sworn in as Kurdish lawmakers.
I had the honor to meet families who went to court in Baghdad to testify against Chemical Ali. I went to the openings of the first shopping malls in what was once a big village. I rode the rides of the first proper theme park. I witnessed the controversy of the rising of new, “modern singers” in Kurdistan.
I watched as thousands of martyrs in mass graves were brought back and buried under Kurdish soil. I was present when thousands of people and journalists flooded the streets and protested for freedom of expression. I remember the first time I ever voted in Kurdistan and sunk my finger deep into the blue ink. And I was graduating university when the first Kurd in history became a member of Parliament in Great Britain. These are just few of the stories that I will tell. But you know what will be great?
My grandfather was not only oppressed by Saddam Hussein’s regime, but the regime killed one of his sons. My father fought against the regime and was part of the revolution that brought autonomy to the Kurds. I, however, was lucky to see the former dictator hide in a hole underground and later be detained behind bars.
My dear daughter may be lucky enough to see the day when Kurdistan will be declared a country on the international map, and only God knows what stories she will pass on.
Just like my parents’ stories that brought tears to my eyes, that made me think for days and nights and made me become a better person. I hope that my stories passed to my children in future will carry the same meaning to them as Dad’s stories did to me.
*This was published in an issue of the Kurdish Globe, in my “Memoirs” Column