Open Letter to Sazan Mandalawi
NOTE: Sazan Mandalawi was a columnist for the English-language Kurdish Globe newspaper (based in Erbil, Iraq). In April she announced that she was leaving her job as columnist to study at a university in the UK for an advanced degree. In Kurdistan, she discovered Yassin's book, Son of Mountains, and began to send back issues of Kurdish Globe to one of his supporters, to send to him. This letter responds to the news of Sazan saying goodbye to her readers in her last column.
Dear Mastawchi (my too optimistic, too dreamy and beloved sister),
I am very sorry that you left your Kurdish Globe readers. Your goodbye was very sad news to me, when I read it it brought tears to my eyes. I am a Kurd spending time in a U.S. prison for a crime I never committed. For the last two years (since I’ve received Kurdish Globe) your memories many times made me smile, other times brought tears to my eyes, but were always inspiration. Most of the time I had feelings and thoughts similar to yours. Whenever I received Kurdish Globe I always ran to the last page to read your memories, I never started from the first page! And I am positive many other readers did the same. You educated many people about our culture and showed them the bright part of Kurdish life and customs. You taught Kurdish children and youth abroad to love their nation and belong to it proudly, you helped them learn many Kurdish words and celebrate all the Kurdish occasions. Being optimistic and dreaming for a bright future is not a crime! But I am sorry there are people who never learned from decades, even a century of conflict, to overcome that past and forget those bitter memories, so they still push our nation toward another war. They teach hate and racism and think that is being a "patriot." I am very sorry they accused you of being mastawchi, "too dreamy" and "too optimistic." But please do not allow that to slow you down. I beg you, please print and publish your memories as soon as possible, and let our children see the bright part of our culture, to love Kurdish life and people, to stay optimistic and dream big, to live and grow in peace. I am sure they will benefit and learn from it, and it will help the entire world to know more about our culture.
For sure, many Kurdish Globe readers, and myself, are going to miss your memories, but as you said, "This is life," and sometimes we are forced to say goodbye to those we love. No one has shed more tears than a Kurd for saying such goodbyes.
Please keep writing. Mastaw is our national Kurdish drink, all Kurds love mastaw, and your memories were our mastaw. Many Kurds like myself who live in handaran, far away from our beloved land, love it and drink it. That is the mastaw you made, and that is why I call you mastawchi. But the way they meant it is not fair, because whoever reads your memories knows you are not that kind of mastawchi!
Please always be optimistic and show the beauty of life to the world, keep dreaming, and dream too much! If that is mastawchi, then I am just another mastawchi like you.