How is life treating you? If you’re in Kurdistan, no need to answer, I probably already know how you feel, what you’re thinking and the sort of fears you have before bed time every night….
I came to ask you a question. Is it weird to be nearly 27 years old and not have answers to certain questions?
Allow me to clarify, please.
When I open my mouth to say one word, in Kurdish, people become curious as to where I am from. I think most of the time I’m so confusing no one knows what to guess. In a single sentence I can mix two Slemani words, one Hawleri and one that is between English/Arabic or my Luri dialect. Nothing to be proud of, but it is not my fault us Kurds don’t have one unified Kurdish.
So, where am I from? Or more precisely: Where do I feel I am from?
My life in Kurdistan is always linked to Hawler. So a part of me is definitely Hawleri. My heart was taken by one from Slemani, which makes me the mother of a child whose half Slemani. Therefore, the cultural capital has taken the capital of my heart too.
Our roots (some of it) go back to Mnali, or Mandali. My own Kurdish dialect, picked up from my father, is Luri; and I do speak fluent Arabic as my mother was raised in Baghdad. Naturally, I picked up the Arabic (mostly from her). Hence, a good part of me is also from the ‘disputed areas‘ (you know, the Kurdistani territories currently not under the KRG jurisdiction).
My closest friends are a mix of Rwandz (mostly), Hawler (include Turkman, Xoshnaw- I make this distinction because apparently some of the their vocabulary differ), Slemani, Ranya, Qaladze and Afrin. I swear that I can’t differentiate between the dialects anymore. Oh, also, I now understand some badini thanks to Rudaw.
My everyday Kurdish is a blend of all the above.
So, my dearest reader, and friend. Should we meet, avoid the question: “Saza, where are you from?” Because poor Saza hasn’t figured it out herself.
Note: I have always kept Mandalawi as my last name in many of my writings and everything I do, simply to associate it with the little, humble and very simple town where my grandfather was. Maybe that’s my real roots, where it all goes back to?
And nearly 27 years later and that same question: “Where are you from?” Why is it not enough if I just say Kurd, Kurdistan?
Lots of love to My Nest in Kurdistan