an open letter to the PM

Dear Mr. Prime Minister Trudeau,

I invite you to come have dinner with me. Come to my home away from home. Welcome, as you walk into the foyer and see a Persian rug hanging, look closely, it tells a story. I’ll share her secrets with you, her journey through Persia to Iraq to Jordan and then finally to Canada. You’ll see the house filled with blue eyes that protect from the hidden evil of hearts unknown. Hey, you don’t have to take your shoes off, but I will take your coat, the weather is changing isn’t it, fall is soon arriving. Here, have a seat. Yes, these are rocks, two of which I packed back with me from Iceland, that was an interesting trip I took out of the blue, I’ll tell you more about it, but first, would you like coffee or tea? My mom makes a mean steeped tea. Oh, these, these are rocks from Kurdistan, you see there is this artist named Ismael Khayat, he draws on rocks and my aunt asked him to make those for us. Here have some chocolate covered almonds while I pour the tea. 

You see, Mr. Prime Minister, I didn’t ask you here to talk about rocks and Persian rugs, I invited you here to talk about what it’s like to be me, a young female Canadian Kurd. Although my story may be unique, sugar? No? Okay. Although my story may be unique, it is uniquely similar to thousands of other Kurds in Canada, in the USA, in Europe, in the diaspora and within Kurdish cities itself. And although Canada is not Kurdish, it has a history of fighting for what is right. Here try this, we call this “kleecha,” my favorite is this one right here, filled with walnuts. You see, standing up against dictators, is something Canada has not shied away from, which is why I am confused at your silence. Mr. Prime Minister, you ask me to vote for you, but how can I vote for you if you won’t hear my voice, I’m screaming, and shouting, at the top of my lungs and from the bottom of my heart, but do you hear me? Can you hear me? Can you hear us?

Justin, can I call you that? It’s just us here, no please and thank you, Sir or Madam, my people are dying. Oh, what wonderful people we are, but we are dying. The air is thick and opaque, the people are being led by fear across the red sea of bodies, the governments and the humanitarians have failed us. It’s a mass exodus. And yet, the wonders of our world, our reality, Justin, is that we are privileged, safe, protected. Let’s speak honestly, it’s just you and me, I don’t know what it feels like to be afraid of airstrikes, of losing my limbs or worse be forced into a cult of terrorists. I don’t know what it means to wake up and find out over twitter, that my family and I have to flee to neighboring cities, because a NATO ally is coming to cleanse us of our Kurdishness, of our identity, our language our existence. Do you know what it means? What does it mean to be a target of genocide for years? Does your wife? Do your children? 

The food is ready, this is yapraxi galawmew, its stuffed grapevine leaves, my favorite dish in the world. Here, let me show you how to eat it, take one and take a small piece of meat and make a sandwich. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for 23 years. You know, I cannot sleep, can you? I cannot sleep knowing that Canada is a land people take refuge in, immigrate to for a better life, and yet at the core of your neighbors’ decision is a human rights crisis that you chose to ignore. I’ll tell you what I think, I think this is happening too close to election time, and that is a price the Kurds will have to pay. 

Oh, you don’t have to do that, I’ll take your plate. Mr. Prime Minister Trudeau, there is no dessert today, I think there is no sweetness to life today or any other day for that matter, not until the world cries with us, not until we speak up against the atrocities of fascist states, not until we stand up to hate, to genocide, ethnocide, to the oppressor, for the oppressed. No sweets today.

I beg you to reconsider your stance, on your drive home, really think about the fact that you’re not being forced out, afraid of airstrikes overhead. I beg you to reconsider. I beg you to stand, I beg you to be an ally, I beg you to be a voice.

Sincerely, 
Mardin Hener

Turning 25

and other selfish thoughts

On the eve of my 25th birthday I was standing in front of the Bassin Octagonal of the Tuileries Garden in the first arrondissement of Paris. It was a cold and windy afternoon, traces of the earlier drizzle was all over the green lawn chairs that sat around the fountain, and although the sun was out and there was not a single cloud in the sky, the petrichor still lingered in the air, giving a subtle hint of spring and the promise of rebirth. 

I’ve never been one to make a big deal about my birthday, but it was also something that I looked forward to. Growing one year older, celebrating a day dedicated to you with family and friends, presents, surrounded by love, how can you not look forward to it? But standing in front of this, dare I say, mediocre fountain, I was overwhelmed with the memories of the last 20 or so years, with an emphasis on the last three. It wasn’t an easy couple of years and it definitely wasn’t fun. It was really hard, and quite honestly, very lonely. And that being said, I can’t deny the fact that I was surrounded by love, friendships and support my entire life, and I definitely do not take that for granted. What I mean to say is that in the past two years alone, the experiences I’ve gone through, the emotions I’ve felt and the loss I’ve endured was an experience limited to my own within the group of people I surrounded myself with. I’m sure someone in this world has dealt with the range of experiences and emotions that I have, but I haven’t met them so we can’t share our stories, learn from each other and heal together, if that is even a thing. I’m still searching for that aha moment, when I can finally understand the secret to life and living, where I turn the pages of my story and start anew, when I can finally turn my feelings off and not have a care in the world, or in other words, when I can raise my middle finger to the world and give it the metaphorical fuck you. 

But then again, that’s not me, I do care. In fact, I care too much about the people in my life, so much so that I forget to focus on myself, I forget to be selfish, and so I decided be selfish. And in selfish manner, all that I can think of is, that on this birthday, just like the past two birthdays, I will not be getting the call I always get, got. Its a selfish feeling, quite frankly, I think it’s the most selfish feeling to feel but I cant deny how much it hurts missing you Nana. I can’t believe that on my 22nd birthday, that that would be the last birthday phone call I would be getting. You were always the first to call me and wish me a happy birthday and ever since those calls had stopped my world stopped. So here I am in Paris, doing the most selfish thing during the worst time in my family’s life, chasing some sort of joy, some sort of comfort to my birthday, and all I can do is cry. I’m crying in Paris. If I can’t find closure or some sort of happiness here, how can I ever find it?

The big 25, I always said I wanted to live to be a hundred, and by that standard, I’ve completed a quarter of my life, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Adulting is hard when your heart is that of a child’s, I still believe in the naiveté’s of life, that good will always prevail, that life is fair, that good things happen to good people, despite the fact that time and time again life has proven me wrong. I tell myself I want to grow out of this notion, have a heart of stone, but I’m afraid if I do, the love I have for the world and the little things such as my appreciation for the languages, my love of Monet, my tears at the end of Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix, I’m afraid all of that will go away, and then everything that I am, everything that I know myself to be will be lost. What a paradoxical world we live in?

I spent my day chasing Monet’s work, I went to four different museums to bear witness to his life’s works. They each tell a story, one unique from the other, and each story unique to the eye of the beholder. There was a sort of melancholy that spoke to me in his works, I didn’t come out of it feeling resolved, I came out of it feeling understood. 

I’m not quite sure what the point of this post is, much like the path my life is on, all I know is that it’s 7am in the morning in Paris, on my birthday, and I woke up with the sudden desire to write this. 

Be good to me 25. 

Mardin
14/3/2019