A i (m.) has set Google Alerts for every person he wants to see dead. Hundreds of people monitored online via the search parameters “Firstname Lastname” + “dead”, which of course doesn’t allow for a precise enough search to avoid dozens of non-death-announcing e-mails clogging his gmail inbox every day. He works out, he claims to eat a healthy diet, he makes sure he gets an annual colonoscopy; all this to live long enough to be able to read the obituaries of various politicians online. In his fridge you will always find a chilled bottle of Perrier-Jouët, ready to be popped in the event someone does, in fact, die.
A ii (m.) has entered into a destructive relationship with his television, both figuratively (in the sense that this relationship has had real and negative consequences with regard to his wife and children) as well as literally (many a remote have been launched at many a television’s screen). He has just turned 70 and has stayed at home for three years after a workplace accident that damaged his spine. The time he does not spend dialling his way through automated phone trees to various bureaucratic agencies that constantly want to cut off his unemployment benefits, he spends shouting at people on the TV. “May the dicks of a thousand black donkeys fuck his grandmother,” he once shouted at the Turkish minister of defence, interrupting his family singing happy birthday to his oldest son.
A iii (f.) is practising radical forgiveness. She spent so long being angry, she says, and this led to nothing but a tuft of prematurely white hair and pronounced IBS-symptoms. A year or so ago she realised the futility of her hatred, how it mainly served to fuel negativity. Forgiveness, then, wasn’t about men getting away with rape, or letting nation states get away with their continued genocide of the Kurdish people; it was about creating a space in which she could continue living. It is only through forgiveness that we can begin to heal ourselves, she posted on her Facebook account in March 2020, a statement which received 67 likes and 21 hearts.
A iv (m.) joined the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s Counterterrorism Group after university; wanting, somehow, to fight for the cause. He sat in a room in front of an obsolete desktop computer for two years, analysing patterns. In a room next to his, a room he only twice was allowed into, other people took his analysis and decided whether or not people would die as a result of it.
B i (m.) gets into fights, preferably at night clubs. For a few years he worked as a bouncer at a then trendy London club and enjoyed the moments he could use his telescopic baton (illegal but tolerated by club management) in order to beat up someone who had gotten too drunk and made the mistake of throwing an ineffectual punch in the general direction of one of the bouncers. Once, at another club where he was a patron, he was kicked out himself and, after trying and failing to pick a fight with a passer-by, began attacking a Fiat 500 that was parked by the curb. “Cunt!” he shouted over and over again while he punted the small Italian car with his steel-capped boots. “Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!”
B ii (m.) was woken up one morning at the age of 17 and was told that his mother had been taken captive by enemy soldiers. He swallowed a yawn, nodded, and went back to bed. This led to horrified reactions amongst the rest of the family. “There was nothing I could do about it, and I was still sleepy,” he explained to those who expected a performance.
C i (f.) has created several burner accounts on Twitter wherein she engages in shitposting. Whenever someone asks her to point out Kurdistan on a map she posts a blank map of the world on which she has scribbled YOUR MOTHER in a red felt-tip pen. She has been banned from Twitter 26 times so far.
D i (m.) eats. His parents, when they are not arguing with each other over money, worry about his weight. They forward specious claims to each other on WhatsApp that state fat cells and adipose tissue developed in children never go away. “You smoke,” their child says if it is ever mentioned that maybe he’s had enough food. “This is better than smoking”.
D ii (m.) decided he would become a journalist, thus disobeying the cardinal rule for Kurdish sons to study medicine, law, or engineering. If only people knew the extent of what Kurds go through, he believed, things would change. He graduated seven years ago and has yet to find a job as a journalist.
F i (n.) no longer identifies as a Kurd. They say they are a citizen of the world. It is unclear whether or not they are happy.
H i (m.) has three 27-inch screens on his desk, one for websites, one for streaming news, one for social media. After a business meeting in the Netherlands where the person he was meeting refused to understand or pronounce his name, he applied to change it when he travelled back to Sweden to something that was legible to both Kurds and Westerners. While he was at it, he decided to change his last name back to what it had been before it was changed by Iraqi courts and perverted by Swedish immigration. His real name, however, turned out to be identical to a protected 18th century name belonging to a family that had once had wealth and power, so the tax authorities required him to provide paperwork proving this had been his name, paperwork that has since long been lost to a multitude of fires. To this day, over twenty years later, he keeps searching for a way to prove he has a claim to his own name. [ cf. J ii ]
H ii (m.) almost voted for a fascist party in the last election. “These new immigrants aren’t like us,” he told friends who were trying to convince him to vote for another party, any other party. “They’re all criminals, none of them are educated, none of them are interested in getting a job.” He claims a friend called him on his way to the voting booth and said that if he voted for fascists, their friendship was over, and so in the end he voted for the Socialist Party. Or so he says.
H iii (m.) moved to Spain. “Nobody cares who you are in Spain. We’re all assholes who’ve come here to live cheaply and get drunk. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.”
H iv (m.) joined the military with the expressed wish to kill people. Born in exile, he had no lived experience of war, and had long luxuriated in the terror of his parents’ tales. After he saw a woman get her hand blown off he had nightmares for several months and dropped out. [ cf. L ii ]
J i (m.) imagines a scenario every night in order to fall asleep, inspired by the premise of the TV-show The Leftovers where one day 2% of the world’s population vanish without explanation. He closes his eyes and imagines how all the world’s fascists vanish overnight to a parallel universe where they get to be all alone and the rest get to live without them. “Nobody has to suffer,” he says when he explains what is appealing with the thought.
J ii (m.) no longer goes by his Kurdish name. He claims his name is Giorgio and pretends his parents are from Sicily. Once at a bar he was trying to flirt with a girl by telling her of his parents’ fictional vineyard when it emerged that the girl was from Sicily and knew of the area he claimed to be from. [ cf. H i ]
J iii (f.) masturbates to old photographs of Saddam Hussein.
K i (f.) used to start off her morning commute by standing perilously close to the rails, screaming as trains bulleted past. “It was just a thing we used to do in South London then. It wasn’t just me, there’d be a few others that would scream as well. I don’t know why it’s no longer a thing.”
K ii (f.) has developed a slew of rare chronic diseases, though she is barely 30 years old. The body’s mirroring of the mind, a form of solidarity.
K iii (f.) took every drug she could get her hands on. Once, on an ecstasy come-down, her parents kept calling her and she was unable to answer the phone. For hours she stared at the profile pictures of her mother and father that lit up her screen every time they called, unable to let their world back into hers.
L i (f.) claims that sometimes when she orgasms, there is a moment when she forgets who she is. No history, no baggage, not even a name.
L ii (m.) misses the war. “It was so much the killing as it was the clarity of it all. They were our enemies, if we didn’t kill them they would kill us. I feel nothing in life is ever as clear as it is in war.” He says this with in a hushed, humbled tone, as though he has stumbled on wisdom by chance. [ cf. H iv ]
L iii (f.) is a child of divorce, of assassination attempts and years spent in cold, muddy refugee camps. Today she devotes herself to her child. “If I can provide for him, if I can give him a safe environment and upbringing, I feel like it’s been worthwhile.”
M i (m.) screams at shopkeepers, at waiters, at his family members. Only with those he views as inferior can he assert his authority.
M ii (m.) is riddled with disease, every visit to a doctor leads to a new diagnosis, new pills to be included in the ongoing daily procession. His one remaining joy is to have three Haribo gummy bears (which his doctors have advised against) that are tenderly presented in a small porcelain jar by his housekeeper every day with dinner, after the pills, before the night’s pains.
M iii (f.) used to be a guerrilla soldier in the Qandil mountains. Whenever she sees something she disagrees with on TV she says, almost as though it were a prayer, that she wishes she still had her kalashnikov. It is not known what she would do with the rifle.
N i (f.) works at a bar. She makes a point of asking white men for their ID, even if they are well over 50. Once one of the men, who had greying hair and could not possibly be underage, complained to her manager, who was also non-white. The manager told the man he should be thankful he still looked so young.
P i (f.) has three times in her life had depressive periods so severe that she entered into a vegetative state. Three times she has been jolted back through electroshock therapy. “This is the last time,” the doctor told her family members. “Her body won’t be able to withstand another round of this.”
P ii (f.) compulsively steals. She has lined her coats with aluminium foil, claiming this confuses the more primitive Electronic Article Surveillance Systems installed in stores. For years every gift she gave to her family members had holes in them from where she cut off the security tags.
Q i (m.) is angry that children today do not feel the need to rise up against fascists. It could be argued that he is angrier at the children of today than he is with the actual fascists. “Look,” he says, holding up a TikTok of a dog dancing to Taylor Swift’s Love Story. “This is the shit they do, day and night. This is all they care about.”
Q ii (f.) regularly changes Wikipedia entries in order to claim various historical figures were Kurdish. Shakespeare, Junkook of the K-Pop band BTS, the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, the stock photo model in the Distracted Boyfriend meme.
R i (m.) collects instances where Kurds have appeared in non-Kurdish literature. A novel by Zola. Blatty’s The Exorcist. Not Without My Daughter. They are rarely positive depictions, as evidenced by a book from 1966 which claims “some Kurds are as primitive today as their ancestors were at the dawn of civilisation”. Still, it’s something.
S i (f.) listens to twelve hour-long clips on YouTube that play the “Schumann resonance”, a low-frequency hum that occurs due to the fact that the ionosphere is conductive to electromagnetic waves. The earth’s vibration at 7.83 Hz is believed by some to have mystic properties. She sends the clips to her family members, urging them to listen, to heal.
S ii (m.) tattooed the Kurdish flag on his bicep when he was drunk in Malaga in 2005. He showed the tattoo artist a badly-pixellated image on his Nokia and did not notice, until it was pointed out to him by his mother, that the flag was upside down, with the red stripe at the bottom. Today, this flag is one of a multitude of tattoos covering his arms, and he claims it is not especially important to him, it was just a way he could get an initial tattoo his parents would approve of. (His parents did not approve.)
S iii (f.) believes Kurds only have themselves to blame.
T i (f.) plays a backgammon game on her phone that is popular in the Middle East. Noticing that a vast majority of the other players were based in Turkey and had handles such as ATATURK 4EVER, she changed her handle to BIJI KURDISTAN (long live Kurdistan). The app does not have a chat function so she lives with the joy of knowing how angry her name is making the other players, and how powerless they are to do anything about it.
V i (f.) has sent over 50 requests to the Unicode Consortium to include a Kurdish flag emoji. She claims that there is a pirate flag, a rainbow flag, and the UN flag so the Unicode Consortium’s assertion that they only release flag emojis for nation states is clearly erroneous. She gets the same automated response every time.
V ii (f.) survived the chemical bombing of Halabja in 1988. Over thirty years later, the smell of apples remind her of that day, of the still unverified nerve agents that were used in combination with mustard gas. She lives her life avoiding apples.
Z i (m.) drives his very expensive car fast down the one stretch of road in his Kurdish city that is well-maintained enough to drive a sports car on. Every day he drives up and down the same road with nowhere to go.
Z ii (f.) bakes. She does not eat what she bakes, as it is a way to relieve herself of an appetite-suppressing anxiety, so she gives an assortment of baked goods to her octogenarian neighbour instead. For years she has done this, knocking on the neighbour’s door at all hours of the day, handing over a cake, telling her to please enjoy, to just leave the tin outside her door when she’s done.
Z iii (m.) has bought a dressing gown made of cashmere. It makes him happy, he says.
Här kan du lyssna på “Survival Mechanisms, an index”, inläst av Agri Ismaïl.