By Abbey Mikha
Shlama al Omti!
I hope you are all having a great summer and doing things you love! Yesterday I was just sitting there alone at home and I remembered my mom’s town in Jilu Hakkari called Zerineh. I had some time and made a YouTube video with the song Zerineh by Janan Sawa and included some of my pictures. I always loved Janan’s songs and especially his songs to do with Atra, Kha’b Nissan, and Zerineh. I’m not sure how old the song Zerineh is, but I can remember it since I was very young. It is a beautiful song with a sad tune, a tune that resembles the sadness that our ancestors felt when they had to flee Zerineh during the Seypa Genocide that devastated our nation.
One day I will see the ground where you stood Zerineh and one day I’ll go back to my homeland to sit in your fields, to see your mountains, and to wonder why time has created this distance between us. Even though I am far from the lands of my ancestors I’ll always be a flower from the fields of Zerineh.
I am an Assyrian born in Lebanon. My mother’s family be Yousip left their homeland in Zerineh Hakkari and escaped to Kiev during the Seypa Genocide of 1915. My mom is in the blue in the picture in this post. There is a story passed down in my family that my great grandfather Adam Yousip from Zerineh walked from the Hakkari region with his family to Kiev. My grandfather Kostan was born in Kiev. He moved to Lebanon with his family when he was very young. I grew up listening to Assyrian music in the town of Ksara in Lebanon at the yearly Sherat Mar Zaia celebration and I have always loved Assyrian music even though my family left Lebanon to Germany and then to Canada at a very young age. I love the country of my birth Lebanon, but my heart pulses the song of Assyria and the song of Zerineh.
The Assyrians in Ksara call the town in Lebanon Zerineh because so many people in town come from Zerineh Jilu Hakkari originally. They are survivors of the Seypa Genocide. The houses in the town of Ksara were given to these Assyrians who still live there amongst each other. There is a beautiful church in the town called Mar Zaia to remind us of our beautiful church in Hakkari. I hope to visit Hakkari one day and see what is left of the towns and villages of the Assyrians in Turkey. This land belongs to us but who will listen? I hope that life will give you an opportunity to go back and visit our homeland as well.
I have written an article about the Hakkari Assyrians called, “The Metis of Red River and the Assyrians of Assyria.” It is from a few years back but I have updated it and it is still valid today. Here is the link: <http://assyrianvoice.net/emagazine/?p=369>
The Song “Zerineh” is one of my favorites ever since I was young because I always knew that my mom’s ancestors were from Zerineh and because I myself like the lady in the song have green eyes. I wonder if many women from Zerineh have green eyes!? I also have heritage from Alqosh and Mardin in Tur Abdin, but I always felt close to the town of Zerineh because I grew up with the kids of the town in Ksara until I was five years old many of which were Zerne. I am proud of my entire heritage. It is my honor to be from Zerineh, Alqosh, and Mardin! I never forgot the people in the town of Ksara no matter which countries I traveled to just like I never forget the people of Zerineh, Alqosh, and Mardin and all Assyrian towns and villages. They all always stayed in my heart. I think of them everyday and even in dreams. I hope to visit my relatives in Ksara Lebanon soon and one day I hope to see where Zerineh once stood.
My friend Ashour and I were discussing this issue of returning to the homeland and he said, “We should ALWAYS think of our beautiful homeland and the glorious day that we return, like a lost child returning to his mother.”
I responded to him: “Children sometimes grow up and search a lifetime for their mother even if she gave them up at birth or at a young age! Many of them forgive their mothers for letting them go because they realize that her situation was very difficult at that time. In a way our homeland gave us up since 1915, but this does not have to be forever. Those of us who are attached to the beat of our land and ancestry are connected to an invisible umbilical chord. It is like something that pulls us to the direction of the East. Like an image of beautiful goddesses of our homeland calling our names to return and signaling with their hands and telling us that we are all flowers who are supposed to be blooming there in those fields by those mountains.” I will always love my moms town of Zerineh.
For those of you asking for more pictures from my life in Lebanon here is a picture of my mom and I taken in Zahle during Easter celebration.
My new YouTube creation: