People have their numbers, days and histories. They write them in their diaries. But I have other histories engraved in my childhood memories. It’s Newroz day, 21st of March, when we rejoice the arrival of Spring and the soft breeze that it carries along.
On this day, Kurds wear their special clothes and dance to the sky. I remember, when I was a little child, how my family and neighbours rejoiced to the coming of Newroz by preparing for it. They brought and bought Newroz stuff. Women were enthusiastic and children were waiting for their father to light the torch in the big place of the village or hills. I remember when I was a child, I lit a torch and I was so happy – like I sailed in to a fantasy world and flew as a butterfly in Spring.
Newroz, for me, is freedom from slavery and injustice. When we light the torch, everyone becomes quiet and we feel liberated. This day reminds me of Kawa Haddad, who is considered a national hero.
The ritual of Newroz is to wear bright Kurdish clothes and to go out to a big place or village like Kebz and Julbustan. The men set up the tents in the ground around the place where the Newroz party happens, and the women make delicious food like kebab, barbecue, rice, salad, drinks, and sweets in the middle of a big, natural place, followed by celebrations.
We dance to Kurdish songs. Although we had a problem with the government, we still celebrate Newroz without fear and with joy. Our preparation didn’t stop, and girls and boys prepared for the dance and theatrical performances about Kurdish life, history, culture, and politics.
I remember another memory from 2010, when I was a child. My oldest brother – Azad – staged a theatrical performance with his friends about the butchery of Halabja, and me, alongside my sister Rojin, read a poem in front of everyone. Although the government watched us to make sure no one took photos and videos of the party, we actually secretly took pictures and videos and hid them at home.
At the moment, I’m far away from my country and most of my family. I might not return. Lots of things have changed, like family, friends, streets, weather, and everything. Things about Newroz day have changed, including the weather, memories, place and people who take part. Although, I’m far from my homeland, I still imagine the nice and good days. I also light candles for Newroz. We party here like we used to do in my country.
Loring Kasso is a London-based student.
Featured image: painting by Hasan Abdalla, a London-based Syrian artist.
This story has been published in collaboration with Hikayetna – Stories from Syria, Hope, and Optimism For Refugees.