Jun 27, 2012

Victims of a 17th century mentality

A female village dweller. She is a little girl, in the body of a woman.

When I was a child, I had a very broad imagination. I had big dreams and ambitions. I remember I used to stand in the center of the road and open my arms wide to tell my friends how big the road was, comparing my big world and dreams to the size of the road. Many little girls that I used to spend time with were pretty much same as me, with outsized imaginings and ambitions.

I grew up; I finished my university course just months ago. I have accomplished a number of my childhood dreams. Yet many of those who shared their dreams with me on that very same road did not.
Time and fate detached me from many people. Among them, when I moved to Sulaymania with my family, was Hozan, a daughter of my father’s cousin

I remember, back in 2002, when my brother, mother and I paid a visit to Hawler to see some relatives and among them was Mam Abdulla, Hozan’s father.

Mam Abdullah is a villager; he lives in one of the villages nearby Hawler. Mam Abdulla has two wives; Hozan is the oldest daughter from the first wife.

On my way to Hozan’s place in the car, I had a very pleasant anticipation of meeting a childhood friend again. All the way I was looking around the beautiful valleys covered up with green grass along with hills located each side of the road. I was already planning in my head what to do, what games I should play when I met Hozan once again, just like we used to do when we were little girls, unconscious that Hozan was never going to be the same.

When I met Hozan, she immediately embraced me tight and kissed me on the cheeks. I was astonished by her beauty – long black hair hung on her shoulders, wide, black expressive eyes and natural pinky lips.
Hozan was only 13 back then.

Looking at Hozan, something was not right. She was no longer that little girl I used to play with. What had changed? I couldn’t tell. But a trait of sadness was noticeable on her face.

I left Hozan that day, never to see her again. When I looked back, to wave with my hands and say goodbye, I could see tears filling her black eyes, those pearls of eyes hiding in them a million “never to be fulfilled “wishes. I thought it was tears of goodbye, unaware of what was waiting for Hozan.
Hozan was about to get married to her cousin at the age of 13.

10 years have passed and, just a few days ago, I heard that she had given birth to her second child.
Time took me back to that exact same day in 2002, when we were having lunch at Hozan’s house in their village. A flash of memories played back and I remembered the moment when, unexpectedly, she said, “I wish I had your life.”

Hozan did not have the chance to choose her future husband or to choose her life. She never had the chance to go to school; nor the chance to enjoy her childhood. Soon she found herself living a life prepared for her by her father and brothers.

This is a typical life for many female villagers whose marriage and future are determined by the decision others make for them. Their lives are planned the day they open their eyes to this world.

I sit back, after hearing this tear-jerking news, and wonder. How many others, like Hozan, must be victims of a 17th century mentality? Some people just fail to travel in time.

This piece was published in Kurdistan Tribune.