Sep 28, 2013

Life after prison

If you are to look back in your life and say "I wish I didn't do that, what would that be?"

Two days ago, a friend of mine and I went to the prison to interview the prisoners for research purposes.

The life inside the prison as we know it, is uncomfortable, perhaps unbearable, and of course like any other prisons elsewhere, extremely restricted. But, here is a good news, it doesn't always give that impression for everyone, at least not for all female prisoners in Kurdistan.

I will not go about telling the story of the women inside the prison, at least not for now since I know soon (in few coming months hopefully) you will find out all about it in the research my friend is conducting with just a small help from me.

But there is one thing that's stuck on my mind and which I had the urge to say it here. Believe it or not for some of the female prisoners, prison is their second home if not the first.

When I was a freshman, I went to the prison to get some information for my presentation which I chose to be a short one about the life of some of the prisoners.

This time, we met only one prisoner, we spent an hour listening to her as she was recalling her story. With tearful eyes, she told us the reason why, when and how she was brought to the prison. She was just a year older than me, but you couldn't tell for she seemed to be a woman in her late 30s!

She had three kids whom she has lost contact with the day she entered the prison.

We asked her about her life in the prison, with a truthful smile she told us how happy she was to be in the prison and how many friends she had made there so far.

A woman with no family, a mother whom her children already believe that she is dead, what does the future or the life outside the prison hold for her really?

 I am not trying to portray the image of an innocent woman here, because I know she is to be blamed for her crime; but, aren't we also as individuals who make up the society responsible for their crimes? How does the society look at the wrongdoers, especially at the females? How does it portray them? Does the society even allow a small space for those women to adapt again into the normal environment?

For them, life after prison is way more difficult than the life in the prison. They go out to face life all alone with no money, job, or even a family around for some of them.

For someone who have been abandoned by her family and unable to adjust in a society where everyone looks at her with their doubtful and despised eyes, where else does she has to go to other than the streets? And who knows may be she will end up doing worse than what she has already done in the past, and soon end up in the prison, only this time for a lifetime.

I am not asking much, I am just asking the society to be a bit  more understanding. We really never know what these women had to put up with all their lives.
But, I know one thing and I am sure of, every single prisoner has a reason for what they have done. That behind every story  there is someone or something, especially for those who have committed minor crimes. You only need to hear it from them to truly believe that they are not to be fully blamed for their crimes.

And I also believe that sometimes destruction could be a way to rebuild something else, perhaps something better.  Because just like a deserted city, which once was full of vibration and life, those women were also vibrant and full of life at a point of their lives and all they need is a little help from you and me to rebuild what has been destroyed.

Apr 3, 2013

A moment of consideration

Often we compare our lives to those of others, and think how unfortunate is our life compared to someone who might be a complete stranger to us: artlessly, because we are deceived by the way we see them and believe them to be. We habitually forget to value and grasp the beauty of our lives compared to those we see and pass by every day.

A while back, a few friends and I were having a discussion about those kids who sell gums and flowers on the streets and wash car windows. My friends’ idea was to stop paying the kids because, by doing so, we actually encourage them to stay on the streets.

I find that idea entirely sensible. Yet my outlook and sentiment on the matter is somewhat different.
On that day I was encouraged to promise that I would no longer pay the kids on the street, so that they might give up staying there and begging in the unbearable heat of summer and the cold days of winter, and instead go to school and work for a promising future.

But it didn’t take long for me to break my promise.

Some days ago, early in the morning while heading to work through the traffic, my eyes alighted on the book I was reading when a young boy knocked on my car window.

His eyes were filled with untold stories, the palms of his hands were all dusty and he didn’t say anything or do much. He just stood there by the window, waiting to be paid a thousand or two. He didn’t even beg.
I tried to ignore him as promised. I tried to pretend that I didn’t see him, and that he was just a normal boy passing by the car. I tried to teach him a lesson by overlooking him. But I couldn’t.

I stand by the fact that paying him will only encourage him to keep coming back to the streets and beg. But, when I looked into his eyes, I imagined myself right in his place, doing exactly his task. How would I feel then?

Assume that he was a rich boy, but only used to the streets. Assume that his parents forced him to come to the streets to sell gums and flowers and wash car windows. Or assume that he was just a poor boy who wants to support his family. Whatever your assumption is, it doesn’t really matter.

Imagine if you were him. Put yourself in his shoes. If fate brought you to his place, if someday you had to knock on someone’s window and ask for a thousand dinars or two, but you found them completely ignoring you. How would you feel? Take a moment to imagine yourself there.

Hundreds of people pass by in those traffic jams every day. People pass by as if they don’t see those kids. They carry on driving to get to their destination; they rush to make a living, or just to meet beloved ones. Among those hundreds, only one or two notice.

I decided to be one of those few.

For Kurdistan Tribune

Jan 15, 2013

We will add new colors to our sunset sky

A dreadful moment could bring you to the face of reality. 

There is so much to think about that sometimes I spend more time thinking than acting.
Day after day I become wiser, I understand my life better and try to connect my past to the present and the future.

A lot is happeing in life, and I do my best to keep up with them. I try to race with life and at times I attempt to stop to grasp the beauty of understanding it. I try to unlock the mysteries, to look and interpret the problmes from different angles.It gives a different flavor.

They often say to understand life, is to trick yourself. But I don't think it's true. I think we all need to spend more time with ourselves and think of the moments of joy and instants of sadness that come and pass so swiftly. Because those moments happen once in life, and I try to feel them to the fullest. 

One thing I know, life has plenty to offer.  

We may pass by people we have known for years, people we believed in, and they believed in us untill one day we see them again, we pass by them and pretend we never knew them. People we thought we couldn't live without, until reality slaped us on the face and taught us how to be able to say goodbye, how to hide tears and draw a smile on the face instead. 

Time passes and we pass by them again, except this time we no longer fake a smile or hide a tear. We smile because we have learnt the way of life.

We learn to forget, because forgetting is a gift. We learn to forgive because forgiveness is liberation. And we learn to dream because dreaming is the way of our existence.

We learn to grow, yet remain young. We learn to deal with problems because life has already skilled and trained us how to deal with them. At the same time there comes moments when we wrap ourselves in the arms of the loved ones like a child rolled up in her mothers' embrace because no matter how old we grow, we remain small in their eyes.

And so we keep going, we continue the walk. We continue to smile and dream because life doesn’t stop at one point. 

Who knows, may be someday we will say goodbye again to someone else and walk past them. But, we have learnt the art of forgetting. We will continue to walk, because all the way, we will meet new people. We will help the helpless. We will hear new stories and fill the pages of our diaries with new memories. We will add new colors to our sunset sky. We will continue to walk, because what we have experienced and seen are only few chapters of our lives, and there are more chapters to come. 

Jan 2, 2013

The power of words

Writing is my listener when there is no ear to hear me, my companion who doesn't complain when I am down. 

We may close our eyes and hearts to many things in this world if we want to, but one thing we can't flee from is pain. We have all been to the point where facing it was inevitable. 

What we might suffer from comes in different shapes and sizes; like the death on a loved one, a dream we have but can't achieve, or we might simply suffer from lonesomeness in this big world when the care of family and friends isn't around.

Even though we are inclined to live a happy life, happiness often comes after hard work, and pain. A fact we are all conscious of, but some of us pretend not to be.

It's not possible to avoid being hurt, but it's definitely possible to find ways to conquer the feeling without resorting to wrongdoing. In my life I have realized that writing is one of the most powerful ways to defeat sorrow and grief. 

When I was a kid of about seven my dad was sent into exile, after he had been arrested so many times. and so I and my family had to leave Hawler to join him. When we first left Hawler, we had nothing. We didn't have a home to live in, we didn't have money to live on, and we didn't even have clothes except for those we wore when we left. 

It was very painful to accept the idea of my family suffering even though I was a child. I had no one to talk with because everyone was too busy working and earning some money so that we could rent a house and have a better living standard. Life was too expensive and unfair. 

Spending my childhood in isolation made me think of so many questions that I didn't have any answers to. Why was all this happening to me and my family? I couldn't understand. Everything was happening fast and inexplicably. 

By the time I was twelve, I decided to buy a diary and write down everything about my life. My writing wasn't so organized or proper, but I didn't care. I just wanted to release myself from all the pain that I had carried in my heart for the past five years of my childhood. I wrote down everything that crosses my mind.Whatever I felt and all the questions I had and knew no one would answer for me. 

It was healing. Writing helped me to find the friend I didn't have, someone to talk to about whatever I wanted. I didn't need to go and cry whenever I was sad and alone. I didn't have to break anything or do something mistaken whenever I was angry. I just had to take a piece of paper and transfer everything on my mind and in my heart onto the paper. It didn't occur to me whether the piece I was writing was good or not, nor did it matter whether people would read it or not. All that mattered was freeing myself from grief and depression. 

Writing did liberate me and helped me triumph over hardship. Writing has made me a better person, a hopeful person.