Un village chrétien au Kurdistan Irakien,
By: Ephrem-Isa Yousif
After the First World War, the borders between Iraq and Turkey had been drawn and specified. With a line, Herbool started to belong to Turkey, and Sanate to Iraq. His mother Yorina was from Herbool, while his father was from Sanate. He is Esho, the Chaldean-Assyrian, talking to us about his childhood in Sanate till he left Sanate in 1956 after graduating from its primary school, he left it at that time to Mosul to complete his studies, and since then he misses it. He misses the fresh air coming from the mountains, the Gods of Nineveh embodied in nature, misses the freedom, and the perfumes of Sanate in an elegant 117 pages book, which misses, unfortunately, 17 pages in Dar Al Zaman publication edition which I got (from 48-65).
Da3ouni ajoodu beel buka’a (=Let me give generously with weeping)
3ala wa7eedie wa7die ( upon my only son by myself)
Fanhameri ya dumu3 3ayni (=So pour down, oh tears of my eyes, )
Wa athri fi kabadi (=and reach my heart (literally: my liver))
Foa’adi enkawa (=My soul (literally: my heart) was seared)
3ala el 7abeeb (= on my most beloved (meaning: "my heart was injured badly because of what happened to my beloved"))
wa khananie jaladie (=And my patience betrayed me (meaning: "and I couldn't take it" or "my patience didn't hold up"))
His father Yusuf was a farmer. He used to implant tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peas, and did not forget to implant and harvest Tobacco which he was addicted on, in spite of the recurrent objections of his wife, Esho’s mother, Yorina.
They got 50 goats that were used to graze in the mountains. Esho’s grandma, Kitro, and his mother, Yorina, used to care for the 50 goats milk, making various products from it, but mainly cheese which was a main meal.
They got a donkey named Kindo, and a Mule named Ferdo. Esho loved to accompany his father in their rides around the area and sometimes to Zaxo to buy some merchandise for their village. Such trips were not out of danger, for the Bandits were numerous and they would not hesitate to kill if the others would not give them what they want. Even gangs from Turkey sometimes invade the village at night and steal sheeps and things alike. But they couldn’t steal the beauty of the mountains with the various trees it got: the poplar, willow, fig trees, pomegranate trees, peach trees, apricot trees and others.
He tells us about the special days, and holy days they got in their Sanate. I liked the most that specific day of the year, which seems not to have a special name, when everyone between 6 and 16 years old should go in 4 groups to the wild and live a whole day without the men and women form other ages. The girls would play the role of mothers, and the boys would play the role of men. Such a great idea.
I liked also that public bath in the nature for women and children every Sunday. All the villages’ mothers would go with their children, about 500 one, to a valley in an area named Bahwari where there is a river, and they would take a bath, all naked. When male children get over 11 years of age, they are no longer taken in this common bath; rather, they can go together to another place and swim together.
Esho tells us about many incidents that reflects the social rules and values. Most of the stories he remember were sad. Like the story of Nano Kore the blind poor girl who got pregnant without marriage form a teacher, then get killed by her brothers. Or the story of Hinny and her elder husband who kept believing that she was unfaithful to him till he one day cut her nose by a knife. Or Khatoon who was married against her will to a man with paralysis, to fall in love later with amn from another religion and escaped from the village with her lover.
He told us about the names of the tribe was living in Senate at his time: Al Bou Isac, Al Bou Zaya, Al Bou Kimya, Al Bou Kinno, Al Bou Kara, Al Bou Nisan, Beshman, Al Bou Shalmoon, Al Bou Mangana, Al Bou Koureah, and Al Bou Tshina.
In 1956 Esho graduated from the primary school of his village. His father wanted him to continue his studies in Mosul. He took him to Zaxo and at the borders of Zaxo he saw a thing that frightened him. A thing moving, but was neither a human nor an animal. It was a car. He took the bus to Mosul in which he kept missing his village life, the freedom and the air and the Gods of Nineveh.
The picture in the video is for the cover of the book and you can see the walls of Al Umawie Mosque behind it. The mosque itself was a church before Islam. The Hymn “Let me cry generously” is believed to be sung by the Virgin after the crucifixion before more than 2000 years from now and is sung on the eve of Good Friday in Eastern Churches. Here it is performed by Lena Chamamian, a Syrian-Armenian singer.
The translation of the Hymn is taken and modified from the following link