Wednesday, October 5, 2016




 ( Sherko Bekas )

“We were millions
An old tree
A young tree
We were seeds
The helmet of Ankara
In a bloody night came
To uproot us
They did,
They took us away long away!
On the way many old trees bent
In the cold many young trees died
They froze
Many seeds were trampled
They were lost and forgotten
Like a river in the summer we had little water
Like birds in the autumn, we became fewer
We ended up in thousands of homes
There were still seeds among us, the wind took them
The wind returned them
They reached the thirsty mountains
They hid among the rocks
The first rain
The second rain
The third rain
They grew again
We are now a forest again
We are millions “
( Sherko Bekas )

 “Kurdish identity is stitched together by the poetry of bleeding hearts. We, as a suffering nation have been kept alive by our unyielding desire for universal equality. We speak the language of entire suffering Humanity . Their sorrow is our sorrow. ”

( Sherko Bekas )


Sherko Bekas ( 1940-2013), was a prominent contemporary Kurdish poet . He is also respected as a Philosopher . Painting was also a serious hobby with him. He was born on 2 May 1940 in Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan as a son of well known Kurdish poet Fayak Bekas. The day I read him , I found his poems stimulating. So Simple and Universal in appeal. They carry the pain and suffering of Humanity at large. 

His work talks of people, both near by and very distant. Reading his Mini Poems, I was reminded of Dina Nath Naadim’s kashmiri poems titled "Haaerisaat " of Anecdotes . Bekas calls them "poster poems" . Most of these mini  poem are Small and deal with apparently  unimportant objects or subjects . For Bekas these small unimportant objects or subjects  can also convey great mysteries. 

He suffered persecution on all fronts in Iraq in His Homeland. He was banned to the Iraqi desert for three years following the publication of his poems. He left his country in 1986. After being driven out from his Homeland Sulaimaniya in Iraq , Sherko Bekas lived as Exile in Sweden where he lost his personal battle against deadly cancer .

His work has been translated in most of the European languages . He is  widely read in  Europe ,USA  Middle east and many south Asian Countries .

Just the recitation of his poems  would bring sighs and turn eyes moist. Be it New York , London or Paris , His audience would ask him to read more  again and again. Hugs , Handshakes kisses and smiles . His poems  moved hearts in all directions .

Bekas is a visionary poet, who,   with his   dignified thoughts  made   Kurdish literature,  especially poetry  ,   universal  in its  content and appeal. If he speaks of his Native pain, it becomes the language of suffering Humanity . If he speaks  about the  banishment  of his people fromtheir Motherland , it becomes the language of every human being living as  exile . He  remains  anchored to the native cause  yet Universal in appeal.
Permit me to say that If his poems do not move you , touch you and make you thoughtful , there is some  issue  with your sensitivity and emotion .

 Here is his celebrated poem “ When I was a Child “ …

( When I was a Child )

When I was a child,
My left hand wished,
Similar to our neighbor’s well dressed children,
To have a watch.
I mourned.
My mother could only biteChild
My wrist:
With her teeth, 
She would draw a watch.
Oh, that delighted me! 
When I was a child,
The meaning of happiness
Was: in the bath,
The bubbles, lanterns of green and red 
That I made
Puffed from the soap foam.
When I was a child,
In winter,
In the heat of the hearth,
I would sit
Looking at the embers,
Bright and blossoming,
I wished,
As a child,
To go into the embers,
To sit down,
To make them home!
When I was a child, many evenings
I was sent to Mrs. Manija’s house
To buy pickles.
That taste so delicious because,
After looking over my shoulder,
At the narrow alley’s switchback,
In one or two shots, 
I snuck the juice from the glass.
When I was a child,
Love meant to me:
The night before the feast,
Till morning, till my eyes opened,
With me, in an embrace, 
slept my new shoes.
When I grew up,
My left hand saw
Many real, beautiful watches
But none like the watch 
Fitted by my mother’s teeth
On my fore and upper arm,
None could please me that much.
When I grew up,
None of my room’s forty lamps and lights
Could, like the bubbles of the soap foam,
Make me chuckle.
When I grew up,
I didn’t make any flame of my stove
A home to live in.
When I grew up, no food
Tasted as that shot of pickle juice did.
When I grew up,
I didn’t bring any shirts, ties, and new suits
Into my bed
As I did with my feast-day shoes,
The ones that, my eyes wide in anticipation,
Slept with me, in an embrace - - 
None of them, none of them!
( Sherko Bekas )

I add more poems of Sherko Bekas ….

(Power )
Through the narrowest needle's eye
I can pull the thread of a poem,
even in the dark.
The fantasies,
even the slippery ones,
I can seize with the naked hand of a sentence,
just like this pen.
The biggest whale of the oceans
I can accommodate in a mugful of words
.But what will never find room in my heart or in my poems
is the lie,
big or small
( Sherko Bekas )
Even if the stars,
the clouds, 
the wind and
the sun
do not see the murderers,
when the birds are killed in the sky,
and if the horizon turns a deaf ear to them
and the mountains and the rivers
do not keep their memory,
there ought to be at least one tree
who witnesses their death
and writes their names into its roots.
( Sherko Bekas )

( PAIN )
I am a towering pain
without having to climb onto the shoulders of another grief.
If I lift my head
just a few inches
I can already see the wounds everywhere,
and the poor can see me
wherever they are.
( Sherko Bekas_)

History came
and compared its greatness
to the magnitude of your sufferings.
your sufferings surpassed it by a few fingerbreadths.
When the ocean wanted to compare
Its depth to that of your wounds,
It screamed for fear of
Being drowned in them.
(Sherko Bekas)

... To me
My heart is like a boat
With some holes in the bottom.
again and again
water presses its way in,
and I bale it out.
Before I have baled out
a bucketful of old sorrow,
it is already replaced by new sorrow.
But neither does this restless boat sink
nor does it anchor
in the whirlwind of this night.
( Sherko Bekas )

If you take away flowers from my poems
One of my four seasons will die
If you take away the wind,
Two seasons will die
If you take away bread,
Three seasons will die
If you take away freedom
My whole year will die and so will I.
( Sherko Bekas )

With my hand, I reached for the branch
The branch recoiled from excruciating pain
when as I reached for the branch
The stem of the tree cried out in pain
when I embraced the trunk of the tree
The earth under my feet shook
Rocks moaned
when I bent down
and picked up a handful of the soil
The entire Kurdistan
let out a wail.
( Sherko Bekas )

As per his wish , Sherko Bekas was buried inside Azadi Park in Sulaymaniyah ( Iraq ) where a mammoth crowd comprising his fans and followers attended his Funeral .Let me conclude with lines from his poem ...

" In the treasure of this world
From the King’s pearl ornamented trousers
To the Sultan’s gold woven garment
Or the emerald adorned court shoes of the queens,
None of them did become the symbol of love
And did not enter the museum of the people’s heart,
Like Che Guevara’s casket hat,
And Mandela’s simple garment,
And Gandhi’s shoes...

( Sherko Bekas )

Next time more on this great master . So Long so much….
( Autar Mota )

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