[By Shideh] We arrived in Sanandaj at last and greeted their famous freedom statue that most surprisingly looked exactly like a famous dance form of Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam. We stayed with the family of two most precious human beings who happen to work for Shawhin’s dad. They had a cozy house on the hills of Sanandaj: small, humble, and darvish style, but had a view of the city. As excited and fascinated as I was with their steep snaky streets and the gorgeous architecture of their houses, doors, and windows, I couldn’t resist noticing their weak construction methods and lack of safety in the case of an earthquake (which is quite likely). What would happen to these people if an earthquake striked? Images of Bam came to my head and it was hard to push them away as I was getting frustrated with my lack of power to help.
Freedom Statue — Photo courtesy of http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/3684/
This house had two small bedrooms for a family of five. The wife and her young daughter wouldn’t let us do any work, no matter how persistent I was in trying to give them a hand for tea or dinner. Their oldest daughter was 10, but she was fully capable of handling the household. I asked her about school, what they learn, what language they speak, what uniforms they wear. She was extremely polite and shy, yet probably one of the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. She said that she wants to wear her colorful Kurdish dresses all the time and that her favorite teacher speaks Kurdish in class, which are both forbidden. “Boys can wear Kurish pants in school,” she said sadly, “but girls have regular uniforms, similar to the rest of the country.” Her eyes were shining when she showed me her math text book as well as Farsi Literature. I could listen to her stories forever, but her mother had prepared dinner: ghormeh sabzi, chicken, rice, yogurt, 3 different types of home-made turshi, and sabzi khordan (herbs). It was amazing to see how polite and helpful their children are (may I say quite different from the spoiled Tehranies). We didn’t know how to show our appreciation for such a wonderful feast. It must have been difficult for them to buy all that meat. The father came home for dinner after a day of hard work. “He is an architect, a very good one,” said the wife proudly with a shy smile and eyes as shiny as her daughter’s. He was an experienced construction worker I learned. In their modest household that was built by him, it was inspiring to see how organized and clean everything was. Most importantly, they had a TV with satellite in addition to a desktop with an internet connection. Every night, the family has dinner sitting on the floor while watching satellite in different languages: Farsi, English, and even French. They love “Voice of America” the most. It was an interesting scene, watching the family staring at the TV after dinner listening to the news in French. I asked if they could understand the news. They said, “of course”!
When I was talking to the wife, I noticed that she had a familiar accent when she spoke Farsi. It sounded lovely, but I knew it well. It reminded me of Rashtee accent (Gilaki). Later I found that the Kurdish language, which belongs to the northwestern sub-group of the Iranian languages (related to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family) is closely related to Gilaki, as well as Balochi and Talysh. I learned throughout this trip that the Kurds in Iran have a strong sense of independence and pride, which is quite admirable. I still wonder if they know how our roots interconnect. These people have been abused by all governments for so long that they might have forgotten that they are a part of Iran and have always been Iranian, perhaps more Iranian than I am. Is it right to deny them their independence though? Is it acceptable to deny them rights to speak their language in school?
While having dinner with this lovely Kurdish family I felt at home. We had to sleep early that night to be prepared for the conference the next day. But who could resist a cup of tea on their small and cozy balcony while watching the moon flirting with my beloved Zagros as the sound of Sunni style Azan filled the air.
[to be continued …]