“What if there isn’t enough time to give her what she deserves do you think if I begged the sky hard enough my mother’s soul would return to me as my daughter so I can give her the comfort she gave me my whole life" - Rupi Kaur”

There would never be enough time in my mothers life that I can give back to her. There would never be enough moments in her life where I can do everything for her. Before I was even born she did everything for me, before she knew who I was she killed her entire life for me. A life that took her away from her home, took her away from her family and pushed her to the other side of the world just for a new outcome in her children’s lives. She killed her entire life for me knowing that I was soon going to bloom into a flower who needed water and not gunshots, who needed sun and not fire, who needed love and not war. I wish I could give everything back to her and return what she has done for me, but the fact is I can’t. Even imagining what my mother went through is something I myself can’t fully comprehend. So how am I suppose to give her everything, if I myself don’t know truly what she gave me. I know that if my mother did not leave Kurdistan and leave the war I would not be here, I know that if my mother did not illegally cross over into Greece for the hopes of a better life for her family I would not be here. The sacrifices that my mother did slowly killed her life, her home in Kurdistan and her spirits for her return. The sacrifices that my mother did, which had killed her life did birth her children into a life that had everything and more. Birthed a life that my mother could not comprehend, but knew it was nothing like her life and that is what she wanted.

There will never be enough time for my mother to get what she deserves, not enough words that can allow my mother to get what she deserves, and not enough things to get what she deserves. What my mother did is unimaginable. What my mother did is indescribable. I hope that my life itself and what my mother did for me to be birthed in a country that echoes freedom with open arms is enough for her. I hope that once I walk down to graduate in June and receive my degrees it will be enough for her. I hope that once I give back to the country that birthed her, the village that raised her, and the people that nurtured her it will be enough for her because she has always been more than enough for me.

Dedicated to my Mother, Happy Mothers Day!

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A simple walk that doesn’t last a lifetime, but one I will remember forever. A simple walk like this is all I need to know that even though I was not born here, I birthed my love here. Even though I was not born here, I birthed my dreams and my fight here. That these paved roads that are meant for sidewalks, these homes that have no backyard, and the people that can become family is beauty that I want to find. Walks like these allow me to understand that even though I did not live here, I will start my life here. This is where I am meant to be with the people that know me and the city that dreams and fights like me. I wouldn’t find this in the country I was born in, in the neighbourhood I live in, and in the city that I reside in. Theres no connection for me here, no birth of love that I can collect here and no sense of family that I see.

Walks that remind me why I don’t feel the same where I live, why they don’t find me in the fast pace life of reality and in the clouded smoke of money. There is no walk here in a city that relies on four wheels of rubber and not their two wheels of bones. All I end up seeing is too many homes being built that are still empty and cold. Why walk in a city that forgets how to walk? Why birth my love in a city that only holds industrial smoke to the sky? Why grow my roots in a country that often times forgets who I am and those like me.

My walk will be a journey that I take to reach my people, to reach my dreams and the mountains. I walk in hopes that my destination will be one that I will never stop loving. In the middle of the road that people call sidewalks, past the neighbour that I always speak to in the language of my mother and father, and toward the mountain that echoes “finally” to greet me back home. Breathing in the air of Kurdish bread and the heat of the sun. Pure sunlight shining down on a city that is caught in between two mountains who fight for love. One who takes in pain and one who takes the pain away. So I walk alone past the corner store while the owner waves at me, down the hill to see Dream city flashing its lights at me and I turn to my left to see my babpîr [grandpa] call out for me “Kêchâ mn” [“my daughter”] as I sit beside him legs crossed ready to drink my ça [tea] and dip my Kurdish bread into the tahîn I tell him about my day in the city of my life.

These are what I want my walks to be like..

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Credits to: @axink13 for the photo

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"No matter how much I pluck and pull them my eyebrows always find their way back to each other" @rupikaur_ 

A past memory and a present struggle of ones who seem to find their way back to each other. Memories of laughing, teasing and bullying at a young age because I was my fathers daughter and it showed. The anger that I had rooted in those long hairs that kept my eyebrows together. The flat out embarrassment I felt looking at myself knowing that I couldn't break my eyebrows apart. The struggle of not being allowed to touch my eyebrows because my parents knew it was an action that was rooted in anger, but as I got older I did anyway. I plucked and plucked away the connection and before I even realized there was barley anything left. Yet my eyebrows still found a way back to each other. It has become a weekly struggle to separate and disconnect the memories of me when my eyebrows played as one. When my thick black unibrow would match my thick black moustache and that would match the patterns of the thick black waves of hair on my arms. Lovers is what they will be separated for now but not forever apart. I will stand as one with all my patterns and waves connecting together showing what I was and forever will be my fathers daughter.

a daughter who is not ashamed to share who she is and where these hairs have come from. Not ashamed to say why my eyebrows can’t seem to separate, they’re too much in love I say. I say this now as if I was aware of the cultural ties that pushed my eyebrows together as one, of the traditions that grew in between my eyebrows like flowers, and the ancestral knowledge that grew within me as each hair came out of hiding. I was a daughter who grew her hair to distract the world from her eyebrows, who wore long sweaters to hide the waves that would wash over her arms in black, who kept her head down as much as possible to hide the moustache that wouldn’t stop showing on her upper lip. I will though, stand as one with all my patterns and waves connecting together showing what I was and forever will be the daughter of Kurdistan.

[This is Me ] 

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Try and remove borders that are clearly visible, erase history that has been clearly written about, and destroy mountains that echo Kurdish language. Try and destroy villages with the over-used excuse of terrorism, kill children and identify them as terrorist, jail journalist and identify them as supporters to terrorism. Try hiding the Kurdish music that has been sung for years by writing your own versions in your own languages as if we wouldn’t notice. Try forcing different languages down our throats in school and work for the hope that we will forget our native language at home. Try forcing culture and traditions at a young age so we can forget what we are learning at home, to constantly let us know who we are not so we can somehow forget when we are older where we actually came from. Try and forbid the Kurdish language, Kurdish celebrations and Kurdish names too. Claim our victories and laugh at our suffering, tell the world that you are good people but cheer on our destruction, help other countries in need and still continue to kill those next door. I know you’ll try and claim all this as yours and try and tell the world we are just simply mountain people in the four corners of these countries who do not want us to live. I know you’ll try and do all this for the reason of silence and to silence who we are and what we have to say.

It is as simple as this, "If my mother tongue is shaking the foundation of your state, it probably means you built your state on my land" - Apê Musa.

This simply lets us know that our nation story breeds nothing but truth where your governments and countries are fearful of. Fearful of how strong the Kurdish language spreads, how beautiful the Kurdish music can be sung and how determined our people are to live as Kurds with our names, language, traditions, celebrations and culture.To live and to be identified as how we live, to celebrate a family of 35+ million people who speak of only a greater Kurdistan. To finally hear the celebrations of our ancestors to be heard on our land with our borders echoing across the vast landscape of mountains because we are the people of the mountains.

The Kurds.

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We look to history books to take a glimpse of the past hoping that we can read about truth and how our people lived during certain time periods. Hoping to grasp a single moment that has been stopped and a single moment that provided freedom and strength. We take in each word as pure truth and each author as pure knowledge, we put these words into our mind and wait for the subject to be brought up with friends/family. We look to art as the most popular and truest form of expression that can give us a true glimpse into the past. That can give us an idea of life and how people lived with each brush stroke. We look to art to bring a message to its audience by allowing a group of individuals to be side by side analyzing and dissecting the art work for what it is and explaining to each other the message that they witness.

However, no history book and no paint stroke can portray the skill and the creation of Kurdish women who use their fingers to weave Kurdish rugs. Who create images and symbols as a form of expression, an expression of culture and traditions that join Kurdish women together side by side to create apart of Kurdistan.

As each finger is placed to weave with the ability to create in between the strings like a blank canvas. As each hand moves with threads of various colours in between the strings like a blank canvas it is made to remember. Kurdish women weave their stories, their traditions, and culture with their fingers to create a story through colours, symbols and patterns to bring back a moment in time that gets hidden and pushed under rugs. These symbols and patterns will forever be part of our traditions and cultures as these rugs are used to form groups of story tellers who sit around in circles drinking their ça (tea) and dipping their Kurdish bread into mûst (yogurt) telling each other oral stories about our history that will not be written in history books and not used as art in art galleries. These rugs allow the welcoming of visitors and the sense of family gatherings to take place in their presence. For the colours that the Kurdish women have weaved with their skillful fingers to bring light to a room in moments of darkness and to bring comfort in the moments that your toes meet the grip of the rug as you sit and listen to the conversations being told.

As we spend time analyzing history books to learn about Kurdistan stop and look at these beautiful creations and how one strand of thread can speak millions without a single word being written. How one rug can be a million paint strokes without a single brush being used. As Kurdish women continue to create with each finger another story is shared, As Kurdish women continue to weave another moment, tradition has been remembered. A single finger has a million stories to share and each hand has a lifetime to create. Lets create those moments of story telling and oral traditions while we sit around in a welcoming circle and ask those around has how much sugar they want in their ça (tea) before the story starts.

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I do not own credits to the photo.

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NAME | ئالین

my name, my beautiful Kurdish name that was rooted in culture and history. My name, spoke on the tongue of my mother and father for the first time when I was born.

my name, my beautiful Kurdish name that planted the first seed in me that would grow to be my Kurdish identity. A name that spoke meaning on the culture of my people, the meaning of Kurdish traditions.

I am claiming back my name that got lost in the white clouds of assimilation. In the same Kurdish language my parents used when I was born. There will no longer be an english version to use as back-up when you choose not to pronounce the name I was born to be.

I will not apologize for my constant corrections when you mispronounce my Kurdish name because it does not fit into your vocabulary. I will not be silent when you cover the white clouds in my name to fit to your liking. I will speak up and make sure you are aware of the meaning behind the name I was given and the history that comes from those four letters. I will speak up and be proud when I listen to Kurdish music that speak the words of my name. To be proud hearing my parents simply call my name because of the pure connection I feel my name has to my rooted identity.

my beautiful Kurdish name is a name that protected me from the white clouds that tried to surround me every-time I stepped out of my Kurdish home. It grounds me in a home that I do not see everyday, but pray that one day I will embrace. My beautiful Kurdish name was given to me by my beautiful Kurdish parents who battled for freedom and the joy of simply living.

Do not disrespect the need for my parents to keep their Kurdish culture alive just to try and fit it into your world. I will not get lost in this assimilated version of society, there will be no more silence that surrounds me when my Kurdish name becomes an English escape. 

my beautiful Kurdish name is Alîn (Alê) and this is the only version of me I will be.


Let the flowers bloom in between the layers of the earth like the layers of your skin. let the flowers bloom in cracks and creeks of neighbourhoods like its hiding from the destruction of human kind. Let the flowers bloom with hope and confidence like it will last forever and never fade away. With petals that can fly after the death of a flower to find a new place to collect its power. Let the flowers bloom in the midst of destruction and war like its battling to be noticed. Battling for a spot in this world through the layers of the earth and the rooting of the seed and soil. Battle to fight for life in the streets of death and decay, and in cities of rubble and dirt. Just notice me in the moments of destruction and I will grow beautifully when its all over… I promise.

Let me bloom without the fear of destruction and war, let me bloom without the fear of smelling apples all over me. Let me live and flourish to show you the beauty that is hidden underneath you, in between you, and in the cracks that you don’t think to look. Let me bloom so I can allow myself to see what my dreams were like in my sleep. Let me bloom again and again to provide a small sense of beauty beside the mountains that protect you and allow you to bloom. Allow me to provide guidance and confidence, look at me when the world is falling apart and when the world only knows the words death and war. Look at me to remember that anyone can bloom anywhere, in any crack, any layer, and in any place that it wishes. Allow yourself to dream because once you dream you bloom. Dream and bloom forever within your life because I will always notice you in the moments of destruction like you noticed me…so grow beautiful flower. Bloom because the war is all over… I promise.

photo credits: @dashnimoradofficial

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“You were homeless?” is what I get asked every time I allow my story to be heard. “You lived under a bridge for 3 months?” is what I get asked when I try to explain to people where I have come from. The difficulties of hiding what you have been through and how that has shaped you has been a battle of past and present. It has been an internal battle of past and future and what my life will be if I continue to answer these questions to those english-speaking Canadians who have no idea what freedom means. They keep asking me if I was homeless, but I do not know this word daughter. English-speaking Canadians use this word homeless as if I was born without a home and lived my life without knowing my roots.

They speak to me in a foreign language that they assume I understand as if I was lived in Canada my whole life and know what homeless means. My daughter, why do I have to answer these questions for these people to understand that the world is not always pretty. Why do I have to get them to understand that by just looking outside your backyard and seeing how peaceful and beautiful it is does not mean the world is like that place. Why must I waste my energy, I’m too tired to speak, I’m too tired to try and translate their English speaking words into my Kurdish speaking brain to answer their questions. I wont do it.

But I will tell you this my daughter, even though my life wasn’t what I planned for it to be. Even though I had no dreams and goals for myself in the village of Eradina. I knew that my only dream was to survive and see the beautiful side of the world and allow my future children to see. I ran from the ugly, the smell, the guns. I ran from the bullets, the Arab men, and from my village. I ran away from the refugee camp, and from the Turkish military that would hurt us. I continued to run until I reached the moment under the bridge. I was just resting my daughter, this is what it was. I knew my dream would not come true here, but I had to wait for my ancestors to pave the way. Why don’t you tell those Canadians who think that their backyard is their only world about my story. You have the language to speak and I give you my voice to tell. Tell them how I survived genocide and war. How I left that side of the world to be here and see the peace and beauty.

Let them know that homeless is not a word in my language or in my vocabulary. I was not homeless, I had a home. I had roots that grew under my feet each time I steeped outside my home in Eradina. I had a home with my brothers and sister, with my mom and dad that the world decided to break. Don’t tell me I was homeless when I have a language, culture, traditions and roots to prove you wrong. Don’t tell me I was homeless just because I decided to run from the destruction from those Arab men. I have a home, my home is with me everywhere I go. It is within me when I speak to my daughter in Kurdish, It is with me when I tell my oral stories about that ugly side of the world to my children and not keep it inside of me. I am not homeless, I have a home and there is no doubt in my mind that I will come back to my home and allow those roots that I left behind to reconnect and show you all, you were wrong.

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Let those who wish to knock on this door be of those who accept me and my family. Let the knocks of those who wish to enter a small home in the basement be of acceptance and love. As I fear for my life every time I accept those knocks into my home. As I fear for my children if I allow those knocks to be heard. I pray that these knocks who want to visit my family of four are those of community and family. Are those that are happy that I along with my husband were able to escape genocide and those rotten apples. I fear that those knocks do not haunt me in my sleep when I remember the sounds of helicopters and the voices of Arab men who are try to find us. I wish that those knocks would not terrify me, but they do and I am alone.

I am alone, but want the presence of family to be around me. Even though I am scared in a new country not knowing the language I do not want those Arab men to continue to trap my culture and identity in. I do not want them to silence my story by not allowing me to share my journey of freedom. Let the journey of recovering be through those knocks that once terrified me to open. Let the journey of accepting be of those knocks that wish to know more about me and my family’s story.

I hope before you knock on this door and open the gate to my world you feel the presence of a family of four sheltered in the four corners of the basement. I hope that before you try to peak through the cracks and spaces in the gate you understand a mother's protection for her children. I hope that before there is the slight thought of wanting to knock you are introduced to the history and story of this family. A Kurdish family who escaped the ending of a death story that was written by the hands of Chemical Ali and Saddam Hussien. By imagining the unbearable life that we have had to get here. Imagine the smell of those rotten apples that still seem to linger around. Roaming through the air in the basement, on the clothes of the children, in the hearts of the family, and in the tears of the parents. Imagine the relationship with the water that illegally guided them here to this door and the voices of the Arab men that are seen in the nightmares. Allow the history to sink in, and now hear the Kurdish music through the windows by the door. Hear the Kurdish language being spoken through the walls and see the pictures of the Kurdish mountains right next to the Kurdistan flag being displayed in the corner of the home.

Now you can knock and allow the greetings of my mother and father to prove that the Kurdish spirit has not been eradicated. That the story of Chemical Ali and Saddam Hussien didn’t end in death and the disappearance of a culture, but ended in Kurdish families just like this one in the streets of a foreign land who choose to to remember, retell, and share their story. We are very much alive with tears in our eyes, but pure love in our hearts. Let the knocks invite you into our home and let us tell you our story. A story not of death, but of second chance.

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I drive to the mountains when I want them to hear my pain, I run toward the mountains wanting this pain to go away. There's something absolutely beautiful and stress-free knowing the only thing surrounding you are the mountains of Kurdistan. And so I imagine those stress-free moments and decide to run toward the mountains to echo my pain, my sorrow, and my love for Kurdistan. I take in the moments of fresh air, allowing myself to take powerful breathes knowing I’m away from the busy city that is constantly beside me. A city that doesn't take the time to appericate where they are and who is with them, A city that doesn't take the time to reminisce the culture, history, and ancestry that have passed these streets, trees and mountains within them.

And so I drive to the mountains in hopes that my echoes could be heard, that maybe the mountains will respond back with a way to give peace and freedom to my people. I run to the mountains in hopes that my echoes calling for the mountains to help me will give me any form of strength and motivation knowing that thousands of Peshmergas have crossed these mountains to battle for Kurdistan. My echoes are still speaking even when my voice has stopped, my echoes are still being heard even when my mouth isn't moving. I want those echoes to reach those who do not want me on this mountain, I want those echoes to be heard in the streets of cities who celebrate our loss, so they can hear what true beauty, passion and dedication sounds like and what pure love, sacrifice, and history feels like.  

As I scream to the mountains I hear my own voice echoing back at me and I suddenly notice the emotions behind my own voice. I scream to the mountains in hope for an answer, but all I hear is my own voice echoing back at me as if it I am answering my own questions.

And so I allow my echoes to be heard across the mountains of Kurdistan, through the branches and the leaves that move in flow with the wind. I allow my echoes to be heard across the imaginary borders that try and trap my voice in, through the air strikes that try to break in. I will let the world know that my echoes will never stop, that they will one day shake the earth for those to finally know that I'll forever plant my feet on this mountain and scream for my echoes to be heard "This is MY home".

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The act of forgetting is the scariest thing to see and experience. I'm scared to forget my childhood and moments that I want to enjoy and relive all over again. I’m scared to forget such incredible and emotional stories that my parents chose to tell me about their past. I'm scared that I will forget to mention every beautiful thing about our Kurdish history to my children. I’m scared that I wont remember because what with forgetting comes the lack of stories, memories, and history that can be passed down from generation to generation. Every chance I get, I am constantly asking questions about certain gaps that I have created in my head about my parents story and their journey to this very moment. I ask question after question hoping that my brain can accumulate all this information and allow it to stay there in enough time for me to share these stories to my kids. For my parents, I do not want their stories to be lost in a world of materialistic things. For my parents, I do not want their stories to disappear or never be shared because it was seen as unimportant. This is why I am here today. 

I want to know every story, every tale; everyday that my parents lived, cried, escaped and celebrated to reach this moment. I want to know every part of history, every song, and every poem that was created in love of my country. I want to know every singer, every artist, and every leader that had Kurdistan in their hearts to the moment they took their first breath. My fear of forgetting is shared with my passion for my country and stories that millions of Kurds share on how they escaped genocide and war. My fear of forgetting is shared with my emotional attachment to my parents and the life that will soon come to an end for all of us. I fear that I haven't asked enough questions to get all the stories that I can. I fear that my brain will forget about these stories 10 years, 20 years or 30 years from now. I fear that I will be like my mother who has sadness in her eyes and anger in her voice because every question that her daughter seems to ask her is answered with "I can't remember" or "I don't know, stop asking". My strategy to ask question after question only seems to hurt my mother who has forgotten stories about her past, information about her mother, and moments that have subconsciously been avoided due to trauma. Through talking to my mother I've learned to try and avoid such topics. My mother who has lost her own mother can't remember certain things about her. This I've learned to avoid in fear of seeing tears in her eyes due to the realization that what is forgotten is never coming back and what is dead is never returning.

My fear of forgetting and seeing someone I love forget is also interconnected with the fear of time. I fear my time does not have enough seconds, minutes and hours to remember these stories that I wait so eagerly to be shared or answered. My time restricts me from spending those seconds, minutes and hours with family who currently live in Kurdistan away from the questions that I am constantly asking . Every second, minute and hour that passes, I fear that questions I want to ask my grandpa are coming to a close. Every second, minute and hour that passes I fear that my mother will avoid every question that I ask because now she has forgotten her whole life. With the last seconds, minutes, and hours that pass I fear that my father will have his last moment of forgetting to be of me and his children. 

So I sit here still in fear of the forgotten, fearing the stories that will stay untold, and the moments that will forever be lost. I sit here writing about my fears hoping that it will spark a small moment in time that I just now remembered, or a story that I was told that my brain kept silent. As I am who I am today, I will forever fear the forgotten and the moment of forgetting. I write to tackle such fears, I write as much as I can with every moment that I experience. I write to never be able to forget, to have stories where not only my family can read and remember, but my children can look back on and understand. Understand my story and how my story is my parents story that is all connected as one. 

And so I try and remember those stories that were told to me in the car at 10 pm when my father would drive to my University just to pick me up to go home. I try and remember the stories that were told to me on our countless drives to visit my sister and her husbands house. I try and remember the stories that were told to me in the moments of driving to the village with my parents on those unforgettable trips to Kurdistan with the mountains surrounding us. I will never stop trying to remember, and never stop asking questions and hearing stories because I need these stories to write. I need these stories to share, I want to remember these stories not just for me, but for those who think their stories are better left untold.  

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I was born into a world that was constantly telling me statistical research about my life and the outcome of it. I grew up in a society hearing about these statistics based on my education and the future of it. I was told year after year how unlikely it was for me to even think about post-secondary education because my parents were refugees and immigrants to Canada. I was told year after year how unlikely it was for me because my parents did not have an education and therefore it was less likely for their children to have one.

I had voices in my head tell me that I couldn't achieve anything because I am my mother and father's daughter and I will only go as far as they did in life. I had allowed these statistics to control my life and therefore I did nothing but constantly be angry and aggressive at school. If I couldn't go to College or University than what was the point in trying to get good grades if the whole world is against me? What was the point in trying to succeed if I was already told that it was not likely for it to happen? That my parents sacrificed their whole lives and escaped genocide, death and war just to be accepted into a country that already had labels placed on them and their children. That the country had already mapped out their children's journey and it was their worst nightmare. 

These statistics only seemed to scare me because living with parents who had high expectations did not understand how the world would not only be against you (mom and dad) but me as first generation Canadians. I took the pressure and fear of failing as motivation to succeed. I challenged myself to throw and ignore those voices inside of my head and place love in my heart that allowed me to find a profession and dream that I cherish and care for and that my parents were proud of. I ignored those statistics that said I could never go to University, saying it was less likely compared to other students. I ignored those teachers who determined the level of my knowledge based on my aggression and anger. Never even asking why I was so angry all the time, but thought that was all I could end up as. I ignored those guidance counsellors who thought my decision to try to be placed in harder classes in high school wasn't a good idea for me because "College-level classes would be better for me". I ignored those voices and only did what I could to change the outcome of my life and change it for the better. In the middle of grade 10 I switched my classes to University level classes and succeeded, I got accepted into the Universities I applied for with Scholarships. 

I speak of this experience to say this, as I'm entering Teachers College and successfully finished my undergrad after 4 years of University I could have listened to those statistics and thought that these people who research such topics knew more about my life than me. That my life was already planned out for me and all I had to do was follow the path that was already drawn. I could have listened to those teachers and stayed angry and aggressive thinking that this was all I was good for. Or I could have listened to my guidance counsellor and stuck with applied (college level subjects) because he said that I couldn't do any better. I could have listened to teachers telling me that is unsafe for me to go to Kurdistan, missing out on the experience of a lifetime, BUT I DIDN'T.

I knew I had to determine my own path at a young age and knew that if I didn't fight for my path and dreams, no teacher or guidance counsellor would do it for me no matter how much they got paid. I destroyed the path that was already drawn for me from the moment I took my first breath on this earth and made a new one. I did this myself and I choose to listen to my parents and not those statistics that were yelling in my ear at a young age. 

As I enter my fifth year of University, AND my last year. I want to say ignore those statistics because they don't mean anything when you have aspirations and dreams that you can fight for. Prove them wrong because they will be sorry for not believing in you and choosing to side against you.  

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 "Kurdish women embody the strength of long hair. Every strand being made to protect made to grow, and made to know. I realized why I feel unquestionably comfortable with my long hair and why my mother never wanted me to cut it. It's a part of me and my history" (03.06.18/Instagram) 

As a young girl who was always told to never cut her hair and to let it grow by my mother never realized why my mother was so persistent on my hair and its length. As a young girl who was always told by my mother to never dye my hair because there was no need to destroy it, never realized why my mother was so persistent on my hair colour and keeping it natural, while I constantly saw my sister colour her hair in more ways than one. 

The consent arguing as a child to want to fit in and follow what my friends and sister were doing turned into battles with my mother about chopping my hair off and dying it a different colour so she'd finally leave me alone. However, my hair now and even back then was a possession of mine in which I was so incredibly comfortable with. The comfort my hair allowed me to have, the safety it portrayed for me and the protection it gave me allowed me to be in control of what I allowed the world to see. My hair helped me keep certain body parts invisible. My hair helped me hide that unwanted arm hair’s that people would often pick on and question. My hair allowed for the distraction of my unibrow to be ignored while the compliments of my long natural hair were uttered. 

The realization of such simple moments brought to light the embodiment of long hair as a Kurdish woman and why those battles with my mother were simple acts of just wanting to fit in without realizing what my hair really meant to me and my culture. As each strand and root started to grow I was growing along with it. My confidence became something that I wasn't faking anymore, but almost like a possession of mine that I rooted in my hair. My strength became as strong as the Kurdish women who embody their roots during battle. I have bridged a connection between my ancestors and their long hair that became a clear form of freedom in eras of oppression and war. With every strand that grew and every inch of hair that was added it created a form of freedom for my ancestors. I embody the small freedom of growth. I embody the source of protection, confidence, and safety that allowed the female fighters of Kurdistan to battle the enemies of our land and win. the source of friendship that was placed within the moments of female fighters braiding each other’s hair for battle. 

And suddenly I'm brought back to the moment when my mother is braiding my long hair for school while I'm yelling at her to just leave my hair alone not realizing the source of friendship that can come from these moments. Now my mother who sees me brushing my hair is suddenly starring. Not realizing that with my long hair that I hated when I was younger and that everyone found weird when I told them my mother does not want me to cut it. Showcased an unbelievable resemblance to my mother at a young age. Who looked like me where she embodied the possession of long natural hair, in which she was able to remember her traditional upbringing in the village of Gundê Eradina in Kurdistan. Seeing me resembling her physical appearance and the exact age has allowed me to understand the importance of why I need to keep my long and natural hair. Not only for my mother to have an escape and source of happiness to cherish unforgettable memories of when she was my age with her long hair. But for the protection and source of strength, I feel when I put my hair down letting it run free while starring at myself in the mirror. 

Now I know why I feel unquestionably comfortable with my long hair and why my mother never wanted me to cut it. It's a part of me and my history. It's a part of the resilience of a Kurdish female living in an oppressed society and the idea of freedom by allowing your hair to naturally grow however it chooses to. 

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In a second my mother's life went from the Kurdish life in the mountains of Gundê Eradina to barely escaping for her life against those rotten apples. In a split second, my mother's life went from being surrounded by her family to escaping toward what was internationally known as the borders of Turkey. 

My mother's life did not end, but it was beaten, challenged, and not cared for. Living through being an unwanted refugee in Turkey to illegally crossing over to Greece at night made those seconds of normal in Gundê Eradina become a dream for my mother. While she is trying to remember those seconds before the war before being forced to escape and hide she was forced to marry a man she never met. While she was trying to remember those seconds before the war before being forced to escape and hide she was forced to say hello to her husband at their wedding for the first time.

Forced to marry and forced to flee she was now fighting to stay afloat in the depths of the water. Along with her husband and family. Just to be placed in a city where her new temporary home would be under a bridge in a local park. My families life was packed in a suitcase and pushed along through different borders and circumstances just to be broken into by unwanted guests. Taking valuables and throwing family photos. escaping with money, but throwing their clothes as disgusting fabrics. 

There is no other word to describe this besides STRENGTH. No other way to speak of it without the word STRENGTH. My mother is the strongest and most resilient person I know. She faced many obstacles and set-backs in life. She gave up her life and her wanting to be beside her family and mother for her kids. 

I don't know how what else to say but STRENGTH. 

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I always saw WATER as a friend. Something that the mountains would produce and give to my family when need be. WATER that followed a path from the tip of the mountain to reach my family in Gundê Eradina. This WATER that allowed me to drink, and allowed me to pray clean. I always saw myself to be friends with the mountains and what the mountains produced for me. I cherished those moments of rain because It flourished my village and the mountains that surrounded me. I wish I was still friends with this WATER because it isn't the same anymore. The rotten apples poisoned the WATER and destroyed my relationship with it. 

As I'm standing on the edge of this body of WATER I'm remembered about the friendly encounters with the WATER. I hope that by doing this my feet can move along with my family in the dark into the WATER. I try so hard for my feet to move into an unknown territory (Greece). With it I pause and remember what the WATER has given me back when life was beautiful in the mountains of Kurdistan. I pray it is the same WATER that provided for me and allowed me to live a beautiful life in my village. Hoping that the rotten apples did not poison the WATER forever, that this WATER will not turn its back on me and my family as we try and reach to freedom. Freedom away from the Turkish soldiers who want us all dead. In my head there was no term for walking with my family in the dark and escaping a country that hated who we were. In my mind there was no way to understand what my family and I were doing when we decided to leave everything behind and walk in the dark to another country. There was no word in my sense of vocabulary that identified moving through an imaginary line that divided the world from each other. As I try and grasp what is happening I know that we cannot go back to those refugee camps, we cannot live as mere animals in our oppressors eyes. And we definitely cannot go back to hiding in the mountains. I have no choice but to trust in what I remember to be the purest WATER that flourished my growth. To trust by being able to take that step into the WATER while praying that this WATER remembers me and provides for me. Provides for me an opportunity to escape to a new life, to a life that  will gradually allow for my identity to not go unnoticed and to start a family. I take that step into the cold body of WATER that is as deep as my pain for my people. I step in this cold, dark, and unknown body of WATER praying that it accepts me and my families struggle to find freedom and independence. I take my steps while also hoping to feel a sense of comfort, where everything will be okay after this. Hoping that our new lives will start now. 

With every push and dark shadow of WATER that forced us to one side, I started to count my steps. I started to count as loud as I can, not realizing the panic that I hear from my brother and his wife trying to carry their newborn son over the body of WATER. I tried my best to break through the blank sheet of darkness to see who was able to make it to the other side. With every family member that felt the land of the Greeks, I thanked the WATER for not turning its back on me. With every family member that felt a sense of new found freedom. I thanked Kurdistan for raising us to be fighters. I thank God for letting me live another day. While I step on to the other side of the WATER and welcome my new life in Greece I realized how brave we truly are and how I will forever keep my relationship with the WATER. 

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Asisbiz World Photographs

This piece is written in my mothers perspective of illegally crossing the border to Greece in 1990. They had to cross a very cold and deep body of WATER to reach the border of Greece as victims of genocide, refugees, and now illegal immigrants. I thank the bravery of my family and all Kurdish families who experienced similar situations to fight for freedom. This experience my family faced could have ended extremely bad, but through this piece, I try and connect the hope of my mother and the trust she has always put into her Kurdistan and her sense of belonging to the mountains and everything that came with it. WATER has always provided for my family and for my country in more ways then I can count, this being one of them. 

would love to hear down below what you Dreamers think. 

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Mom has always been a distant word for me, a word that seemed so foreign that I could not label you as because you were much more. You weren't "Mom" as my friends in school would call their parents, but you were always Dadê or Adâ. You went by words that were rooted in a variety of stories that categorized your life, you were rooted in culture, and in a powerful language that were created to describe everything you are in Kurdish.

You gave and sacrificed. You cried and asked why. You fought and won. 

You were Adâ because you were able to break off your roots in a land that was once dangerous and constantly smelled of apples. You broke off your roots in a land that called for you crying for you to return, but you knew that you had to leave. You carried those roots on your back to a new place that you hoped you could replant again. However, you knew that as you carry these broken roots on your back in the mountains away from the smell of apples and warplanes that you probably left unbreakable roots back in your homeland that you will forget. That will disappear because you could not carry them with you and that scared you the most. Forgetting and not being able to remember who you were back when life was simple. 

Even with such fears and lack of memory that you have you were able to protect and fight by constantly replanting your roots and breaking them to travel to a new country. Not for you, but for your children. You broke yourself each time, you cried and asked why each time, and you gave and sacrificed each time not for yourself but you fought and won to place your children in a new life. A life that didn't smell of apples, a life that didn't see warplanes everywhere they turned, and a life that didn't restrict everything you did. 

You weren't simply my mom as many others might put it, but you were much more because of the roots that you shared with me. You carried Kurdistan on your back and gave it to me to bring back home for you. Even with the broken roots and missing memories that have been forgotten in the land that we call home I learned about my culture, language, history, and families stories from you. I received my strong nature to fight for everything, and my emotional love for everything I hold dear to me from you. You are not only my Adâ, but my whole heart and everything beautiful about me. 

Happy Mothers Day Adâ

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Alê Comments

Babû why are my eyes itching,
please tell me why are my eyes turning red?
why do I keep coughing,
Its hard to breathe Babû please save me.
why can't I feel your warmth while in your arms
why is your loving grip slowly disappearing?
Please tell me you're still breathing Babû..
Babû speak to me...
tell me everything will be alright
tell me that the smell of these apples are the signs of spring and new beginnings
tell me that we will go back to preparing for the Kurdish New Year with my mother and siblings. 

Babû the smell of these apples are growing stronger, I don't think I can hold on much longer. I don't think I have the strength to live through this. I'm sorry, I'm sorry that I had to die like this and that you had to die with me... I know much you wanted a son. I know how much you prayed every day to the skies for a son. Praying that God will finally gift you with one so you can experience an unbreakable love. I'm sorry babû that our love broke so fast because of those apples. I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough, I just couldn't breathe those apples didn't let me breathe... Why Babû why?

I know how much you wanted to save me because of how much you wanted me. Even before I was given to you, I heard you Babû, I heard your prayers. I was coming home to you, and I knew in your arms that is where my home was. 

You thought they were just bombs, bombs that would rise to the sky and not roam on the ground. You thought you were safe if you just took me in the basement for shelter. I believe you babû... I know that if you knew why the smell of apples grew in our beautiful town that you would have done things differently. I believe you.

I'm going to shut my eyes now... I'm too tired for this. Close them with me Babû let us fly the mountains together... Let us say goodbye to this pain and suffering and be free again live life the way Kurds were supposed to live. 

It's okay Babû don't cry for me. I am happy here, I can breathe again because  I'm with you flying through the mountains of Kurdistan. I can see again without my eyes itching and turning red, I'm alive. Don't feel bad because I didn't have a childhood. I'm with you, I heard your prayers when you cried to God calling for me and I came Babû. I came for you so you experience the love of having a son, and you did.

We can close our eyes together today on March 16, 1988, and as I close my eyes I know I have your loving grip around me and the warmth of your body on me. Thank you Babû, and now we can fly together. Forever in your warmth surrounded by the mountains looking down at my beautiful town still standing. 

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The smell of apples can be a sign of spring and new beginnings. The smell of apples has been a sign of life and tasteful creations of God. 

Though, our apples, our smells of those rotten apples were signs of a chemical storm dropping into a town of people. Our apples were the images of babies who died in their mother's arms, kids on the floor feet away from escaping, and men who all they cared about was protecting their own. 

Our smells of those rotten apples we're signs of people not knowing what was taking place and of people dropping to the ground. The Kurds smelled those apples and saw people die. The Kurds smelled those apples closed their eyes and saw nothing but the gates of heaven. The Kurds smelled those apples closed their eyes and now were little birds in the sky.

Our apples weren't of new beginnings but of a dark time in our history. They were not welcoming the signs of spring but killing the signs of life in the hands of chemical Ali and Saddam Hussein. They were not welcoming the celebration of Newroz, but the beginning of months of Anfal, months of genocide. 

The rotten apples still linger in our hearts and in the town of Halabja. Those rotten apples still haunt the people affected and grow tears in those who are grieving.

Though the smell of our apples didn't welcome new beginnings and a new life. Our Nergîz (narcissus) grew despite those apples. Grew to fight the smell of those apples and lived to destroy those apples. We created our new beginnings by remembering our old ones. 

We grew those Nergîz because just as our history is written we Kurds can overcome oppression, we grow stronger in our resistance and remember those days of those rotten apples to never forget who we are as individuals, as a people, and as a country. 

Let those Nergîz grow, but let us remember the days of those rotten apples forever. 

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The olive trees have been known to grow. To grow with strong roots, strong branches, and even stronger stems. The olive trees have been known to grow. To grow with incredible texture and a strong taste. A taste of resistance, freedom, and strength. 

These olive trees are not trees to declare war. These olive trees are not the trees to freely destroy without consequence. The people who planted these trees that handpicked a land that is free allowed these trees to grow as strong as they could. 

these are trees that grow to protect a city and its people from men who allow these olive trees to bleed. From men who laugh at these olive trees crying. Who wait to count how many olives fall down these trees and smile. 

I speak to you to let these men know that there is something special about these olive trees that you declare and point your guns at. These trees with the strong branches, strong stems rise up. 

These olive trees I speak so highly of are the women who rise up against these men. The women who point their guns back at these men. Who protect cities, families, and children from the bloody guns of these men. These are the women who pick up those olives and place them back on the tree to allow them to grow freely and even more powerful than ever. 

Let us women rise up. Let us women rise up for the city of Afrin and the beautiful people who have been living in freedom and peace before these olive trees were attacked. The city who allows the freedom of trees to grow and who embrace and grieve the bloody flowers of red in their land. 

Let us raise and stand up for all of Afrin. Let the world know that the female voices of the world have risen for Afrin and its strong olive trees to fight back the oppression. 

Let us Echo the names of the people in Afrin 

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"I believe that Kurdistan will give up just about any place, but there is not a Kurd,  not even one single noble Kurd, that will give up Kirkuk" - Mam Jalal. 

We have struggled, given up, and died for Kurdistan. We have cheered, celebrated, and praised in all four parts of Kurdistan. We cried, prayed, and screamed with just the mere thought of losing Kurdistan.

We cry with the mountains surrounding us soaking up the water to give life to the next generation. We pray with the mountains surrounding us hearing our prayers by growing stronger and faster against our oppressors, our enemies. We scream with the mountains surrounding us echoing our calls so the world can finally hear us. 

to hear our message that we will never give up Kirkuk. Kirkuk has the rightful place in the hearts of every Kurdish citizen. We will cry, pray, and scream knowing that our voices will eventually be heard and our Kirkuk will be returned to us. We have fought long and hard for the recognition that is placed upon us today. We will fight even harder, pray harder, and scream louder to bring Kirkuk back to the peaceful and accepting borders of Kurdistan. 

Resistance and the strength to fight has been embedded in the mountains before I was born. The cries of our ancestors are still being seen with the plants that still continue to grow and the waters still continue to follow in moments of dryness. The prayers of our ancestors are still being known with the strength and presence of the mountains and the screams of our ancestors that still continue to echo in between the mountains telling us...

To never give up Kurdistan. To never lose any part of our land to our oppressors and enemies & to always remember Kirkuk is and forever will be where our hearts reside.  

Kirkukê Dilê Kurdistanê 

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