My Homeland

By Nahid Rauf

Where is My Homeland?

Ankara, Red Crescent, Health Street, Happy Day Apartment, after passing the dark and small corridor, in unit number five, in a small and cozy kitchen. I am sitting at a four person dining table.
My eyes fixed on the fire under the teapot and waited for the water to boil. It means we have as much time as brewing tea, to talk about my homeland.

Come and sit!
The square meters of my house is small, it has no yard and has a balcony facing the neighbor’s apartment. In short, the people of this city should not stay for too long inside these small four walls, if not staying two days in a row, initiate diseases such as depression, aggression, short temper, and misanthropy.
You must have witnessed it in the city by now. Despite the urge of inertia, if you leave the house you will fall in love with the seasons in this city. Every street is surrounded by stout trees, I guess they have witnessed the change of seasons for more years than you and me.

Green tree branches with small red fruits, whose name I don’t know, hang from the walls of some apartments. It doesn’t matter whether it is sunny, raining or snowing, these trees have sworn to bestow maximum beauty on this city. In spring, you will see so many different colours of green that maybe your favourite colour changes from pink to green or sky blue. In autumn, any road you pass by, even with a black suit, black tie, frowning forehead and complete seriousness if you are going to your workplace, the road will still be romantic.

In winter, like in movies, you can face stormy rain in the middle of a sunny day. That’s why getting wet is normal here and I love this. For example, when I come home soaking wet, no one blames me, if I have stayed under the rain, because rain just surprises you.

Have you seen the Haji Bayram Mosque? From Red Crescent to Opera and after passing the big stone mosque of Opera, we enter Ulus, from there the pigeons will take you to Haji Bayram Mosque.
It has a large yard where you can sit peacefully and enjoy a glass of bitter tea with sweets and it is the only place where the difference in language and color does not matter. By the way, did I mention that my language is different to the language of this land?

It’s strange because sometimes the language difference makes them think that this is not my homeland. Is it compatible with the reason with reason to divide languages and geography and consider each person to belong to a certain geography according to the language they speak? Isn’t the connection with the heart proven? However, these are the mistakes that humans made in their firsts and others believed in. Which language do I speak? Persian Dari!
Do you know Mavlana jalaluddin Balkhi? As he says: ”Beyond our beliefs, beyond our being and not being, there is a field, beyond all ideas of right-doing and left-doing, I will meet you there.”

He and I speak the same language. He was born in Balkh, I was born in Herat, the city of Khwaja Abdullah Ansar. Basically, if I am going to define the language I learned as a child, I should say that every language I learned afterwards also has Persian roots in it. Let’s put aside the fact that those who speak those languages do not recognize Persian speakers as their own people. I was talking about Herat; it has six minarets that are collapsing like its people. If they collapse, history will surely lose a huge treasure.

The streets have fewer trees, which makes the seasons pass more difficult. There is a big mosque in Herat with unique designs that I have not seen anywhere else. I was there for 20 years, but because people have decided that its hall is for men only. It must be bigger than Haji Bayram Mosque. But why didn’t it feel like that…? Majidi Street, inside an alley without numbers, in a house without numbers, I used to live. Maybe the city itself, by not registering the houses, showed that it is possible that we do not belong there.

When we opened the gate of our house, we were greeted by a large yard, a canopy with grape vines, a hallway with jasmine flowers, a wall covered with sticky flowers, and gardens full of carnations, and in the middle of each garden there was a cypress tree that was as tall as the three-story building of our house, and in the back of the house jujube and blackberry trees with a swing that could accommodate almost three people. In that house, you could live the seasons romantically. You may have understood, we did everything we could to belong to that city, but for twenty years, I left home every morning to persevere and came home half-dead in the half of the day.

It was a beautiful city with people who would stand for maybe ten minutes and offer to be their guest to serve you tea. It is true that you can love or hate a city by its people. The people of that land were good people, but we didn’t understand each other. The people of this land are good people, but they ask me where is my homeland? Most of them want me to go back to my homeland, but what if my homeland is here?
The water also boiled. I brewed green tea with a little saffron. By the way, do you like saffron in your homeland?

10 November, 2022