Another Form Of Resistance!
The horrific images of people falling from aircraft in Kabul in a bid to escape the Taliban have shocked the Global Community. Many consider the current scenario in the war-ravaged South Asian nation as the Defeat of Humanity. It seems that the entire world was aware of the quick and effortless fall of Kabul… only the Afghan women, seemingly, had no idea about this. Afghanistan’s brutal and fanatical past may prompt one to recall the story of a poet and social worker, who still resists terrorism in her own way. She is also from the troubled West Asia. Once, that girl had to face the ire of the mighty State for her defiant character. Ultimately, she countered the State Power with her Poetry.
Born to an Alevi Kurdish family in the ancient Hittite city of Kahramanmaraş in Turkey’s Mediterranean Region, Bejan Matur (b. September 14, 1968) is a Kurdish poet and author from Turkey. As Kurdish is a forbidden language in Turkey, she did not get an opportunity to learn the language properly during her childhood. Whenever Bejan’s mother asked her to prepare food, her father, a cotton-cultivating farmer, used to tell his wife: “Bejan is studying.” Bejan’s first school education was in her village. Later, she attended the long-established Lycée in the region’s most important cultural centre, Gaziantep. Although she studied Law at Ankara University, she has never practiced. In fact, Bejan picked up the pen to make her father proud, and she concentrated mainly on Social Inequality. Her dark and mystic Shamanist Poetry, with its pagan perceptions, belongs to the past rather than the present. In her works, the Kurd girl describes the beauty of her birthplace, and the nature and life of her village.
It may be noted that when Bejan arrived in Ankara to study Law, anti-Kurdish Saddam Hussein (April 28, 1937 – December 30, 2006) was in power in neighbouring Iraq. The outspoken girl was arrested for the first time at the age of 19! She spent 28 months behind bars. On January 21, 2020, Bejan told the media: “In the Ankara Police Station after all this heavy torture, I was trying to breathe and remember: I am alive. I am not dead yet. I was trying to tell my body that I was alive. In this pure solid darkness, there was no sign around me to tell me what day it was, what the time of the day was, anything. It was a very dark, cold cell. Somehow, I tried to create a kind of ritual. I started turning around in the cell and creating a rhythmic sound. It wasn’t a song, but there was music without words.” She also said: “Through rhythm and physically turning around over and over again, I started to hear words and lyrics. They were shining like diamonds in the darkness around me. I was in a vortex, a kind of sound vortex. I was hearing the words. They were shining around me. It went deeper and deeper. It was a kind of healing maybe; a kind of consolation for my soul. I can definitely say that poetry saved my life.”
After her release from the prison, the Alevi Kurdish poet burned all her old writings and arrived in Anatolia to see the ruins. By that time, she created her own Philosophical World after studying Shamanism, Yezidi and Sufi cultures. Although Saddam Hussein was ousted, the danger was still there, especially for the Kurdish people. Instead of judicial trial, the Islamist organisations found an easier way to punish the protesting girls and women. The Islamic State (IS) started killing scores of Kurdish and Yezidi girls, made them sex slaves, and also abused children. Some of those girls were rehabilitated after the defeat of the IS to the Combined Forces in Iraq and Syria. The condition of a 19-year-old girl, who had served as a sex slave for six months, is easily understandable. The IS tried to wipe out Bejan’s community brutally, as they were Kurdish and Yezidi. However, she did not give up.
Bejan penned a book on the history of a 3,000-year-old city in Anatolia… the publication, titled ‘Looking Behind the Mountain‘ (2011), was on the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Working Party (PKK). She had visited the steep Qandeel Mountains, where PKK units are located, to conduct interviews with the guerrillas fighting the Turkish Army. In her book, she made an attempt to display the personal stories and traumas of the Kurdish fighters engaged in the war. The poetry of Bejan, who believes in Incarnation and Rebirth, is highly influenced by her own religion, Shama.
Readers can find Bejan’s wounded emotion and resistance against social evils in her works. In her poem ‘If This is a Lament‘, she wrote: “They speak of a land that never was,/ a non-existent tongue./ There is no utterance,/ no words.” The titles of Bejan’s poems are also indicative… such as ‘The Graves of Children‘, ‘A Dead Sun‘, ‘I Know the Unspoken‘, ‘Full Moon over Karbala‘, ‘In the Temple of a Patient God‘, etc.
The resistance continues, as one can find Reosan and other Kurd and Pashtun poets next to Bejan. Reosan has made an attempt to restore wedding and harvest songs of remote areas of Armenia having a Kurdish majority, using vocal and instrumental music. Deprived of traditional education and trapped in the religious shackles, the Afghan Pashtun girls, too, write poems under pseudonyms. Brave female poets, living in remote rural areas, prefer ancient lyrical style of poetry while saying: “My body is fresh as henna leaf/green outside; inside, raw meat.”
Some brave Afghan girls have secretly formed a group! The Islamist Fundamentalists have deprived the Pashtun girls of their right to paint traditional tattoos on their foreheads. Hence, a girl has written: “I’ll make a tattoo from my lover’s blood/ and shame every rose in the green garden.” They have also encouraged their men to go to war against the Taliban, saying: “Embrace me in a suicide vest/ but don’t say I won’t give you a kiss.” Only love, resistance, and self-determination can keep these Afghan girls alive. They have always been deprived. So, hope is their last resource.
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