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Aysha Mohmmod

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Transcription

Kurdish Oral History Project
Interview with: Aysha Mohmmod
Interviewed by: Aynur de Rouen
Transcriber: Marwan Tawfiq
Date of interview: 10 May 2014
Interview Setting: Aysha’s house in Binghamton
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Start of Interview)

0:00
AM: Me too. Um, I come here because I married my husband, and he come um from here to Kurdistan. He ask about me and our family ask about him uh and because he was nice person in Kurdish I married him I come to America, but of course everybody love uh his country better, like me I like my country better but– uh.

0:43
AD: Yeah, why?

0:43
AM: Because uh my family there, because eh do you know when say ghurba [gurbet in Turkish, place far from one’s homeland, foreign place, abroad], of course we like country but uh I want to be there stay here because my kids born in here and they like here they like finish school here, school in America is easier than Kurdistan. And if any time my kids wish, I go to back to Kurdistan because I miss my family, my dad, my brother, my sister.

1:28
AD: Yes.

1:28
AM: I do not want to live here; just I live here because my kids, my kid’s school, because um they like hear, they want to finish school here.

1:51
AD: But you want to go back?

1:54
AM: I want go to back of course, right now eh Kurdistan is beautiful and yes, when I said before my country, I like my country better of course, but what I can do. My kids are not going to go back. They born here, they like American school eh, we are going to go visit every two years, yes.

2:28
AD: Yeah, so but uh if, so, are you telling me if they stay here would you still go back?

2:39
AM: No, I cannot leave my kids here. Eh, I have to stay.

2:43
AD: But like when they get older?

2:46
AM: When they get older too. Never, because yes, Kurdish people are religious, we are Muslim I cannot leave my husband and my kids. Never. I wish I go to my country because I miss my family, my sister my brother my mom but I have to stay with my kids eh forever. Eh–

3:10
AD: Yeah, are you concerned about American culture that is going to affect your kids?

3:18
AM: No, because eh we like everybody, I like our religion I teach my kids inside about everything, like about our culture, Kurdish culture about eh our religion, no, they are not going to. They know we are Kurdish, we are Muslim. Elhamdülillah, we pray. They love Ramadan. This is about three years my kids pray and eh they love Ramadan. They have been fasting. In Ramadan.

04:11
AD: Yeah! Really?

04:12
AM: Yeah, last year we went to Kurdistan. Yes.

04:13
AD: How about here?

04:14
AM: Here too. Yes. My kids pray and they love our religion and like I before said we love everybody. But I think here because many Kurdish people live here, it looked like, to me it looked like Duhok, Binghamton look like my country Duhok. Because eh do you know eh I teach my kids like everything about their religion about Kurdish culture.

5:05
AD: So, how do you feel if they want to marry someone other than Kurdish?

5:11
AM: No, they have to listen to me. No, they have, she knows my daughter. She is so nice she is so smart. I teach her about this kind of eh, yes, no. Just God knows about marriage about this stuff, do you know? We say in Kurdish God knows everything. Before I do not know I am going to ̶

5:42
AD: Yes, same thing. Kader, kader [fate, destiny].

5:43
AM: Qedder, I do not know one day I am going to marry Idris and I am going to America. Yes, this is qedder but if I can I teach them right now, when you grow up inshallah you have to marry Kurdish people and nice person and he must be Muslim. I am going to tell him no.

6:07
AD: So, the person needs to be from Kurdistan, or let us say she found a Kurdish person from Iran or Kurdish person from Turkey.

6:16
AM: Yes, this is God knows and qedder.

6:22
AD: Is that Okay? Would you accept that?

6:26
AM: Okay yes, okay but of course we are going to ask about him. If he is a good person it does not matter whether he is Kurdish from Turkey, Kurdish from Syria Kurdish from Iran, or he must be Muslim first and.

6:48
AD: What if she picks someone from Pakistan? Not Kurdish but Muslim.

6:55
AM: No. [laughs] I am going to say no, because no. Not too far but first I have just one daughter and she knows everything, is so nice.

7:06
AD: Oh, what about boys?

7:07
AM: Boys too, boys too. To me same. I like my son, both my son, I like my daughter too, both same. I tell my son too, you have to when you want to be after eighteen years old when you have to like somebody in your country, you have to marry a Kurdish person–

7:31
AD: But do you know–

7:32
AM: And a nice girl–

7:34
AD: They are growing up here–

7:36
AM: Yes, I know–

7:37
AD: –They will go to school–

7:38
AM: –I know–

7:38
AD: –Maybe they will go to another college not this college, maybe they will go somewhere else and they will meet somebody over there.

7:48
AM: Yes, I know, but I am going to get mad at him forever. If they not listen to me. This is. They have to listen to me do you know. You have a daughter too, for example. If she did not listen to you, you are Turkish right?

8:11
AD: Well, I mean the thing is my thing is not for Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic or American. My thing is good person–

8:23
AM: Me too!

8:23
AD: –If I see the person, if I think the person is not good for her then–

8:31
AM: Yes, me too, yes–

8:32
AD: –I would say something, but if I think the person is good so I am not worried about it.

8:40
AM: Do you know I wish I could explain for you some more. I can say something in Kurdish language better.

8:51
AD: Yes, you can. Do you want to say it in Kurdish?

8:53
AM: Yes, I want to say in Kurdish because sometime my English not too. I wish I explain more.

9:04
AD: Aysha, let us do this. When you feel that you cannot answer tell me in Kurdish and either she can translate or I am going to ask Marwan to translate it later.

9:17
AM: Marwan?

9:20
AD: Yes, he is going to work with me he is a student. If you were a student I could easily hire you bet he is a student.

9:30
AM: Where he is?

9:31
AD: He is a PhD, he is doing his Doctorate.

9:35
AM: Oh, he is a student in the University?

9:37
AD: Yeah.

9:37
AM: I do not know him. Is he Sorani?

9:40
AD: He is Sorani.

9:43
AM: His name Marwan?

9:44
AD: Marwan, very nice, I will introduce you to him.

9:49
AM: I think I am going to tell my husband maybe he knows him. Do you know like? Yes, I wish I can explain more for you about my kids because I tell them every day inside different like when you go to school my kids, they are all friends it does not matter boy or girl inside the classroom and inside the school, okay? But when they come back they have to pray because you are Muslim. They have to do everything like Kurdish do. I tell them do not say I am, because I am in America I am not going to pray. Because I am in America I am going to like for example I am going to wear like–

10:43
AD: Tattoo.

10:43
AM: –Not tattoo, like clothes. I tell my daughter if you want you cannot swim anymore with boy. She says okay mummy. They listen to me. They know where I am from; they know something this is not good, this is good. This is shame or you have to be shy for something. They, for example, she is smart she listens to me. For example, you can do everything when your friends she is in America she is for example American people when they get fourteen years old they have a boyfriend.

11:32
AD: I know I am not saying.

11:33
AM: She cannot do stuff like that

11:35
Angelique: People in my age have boyfriend.

11:36
AM: Her friend she is American, she has boyfriend already. She cannot do because in our country this is Haram and shame and not good.

11:50
AD: Well, my, my approach on that Aysha is not religious to me is like if you focus on boys at this age then you will not do well in school, and if you do not do well at school, then you will fail in this life. That is how I look at it.

12:09
AM: Yes, I tell her, I know you are born in America, you are Kurdish-American people for example, but you have to be look like me. And for example, my daughter I tell her many times you have to be, before you get married, you have to be virgin. You have to be a nice girl. You cannot take a boyfriend when you will be fourteen years old. You have to listen to me. When you pick one, me and your father when we say he is good, he is going to be a good husband to you, then you can say yes mummy. If we say no, you cannot marry this person; it does not matter if he is Kurdish or Arabic–

13:06
AD: So, you listened to your parents in Kurdish culture–

13:10
AM: Yes, yes of course.

13:11
AD: –And then you say this will continue.

13:14
AM: Yes, I think everywhere good people they listen to their parents and family and everybody has like his culture and his family right. Like inside every home not look like outside, do you know?

13:39
AD: Yeah, Yeah.

13:42
AM: Right now, my kids are very good and they know everything and listen to me and um I take them to Kurdistan every two year. They love my family. They love my sister and brother. They want to visit some time but they did not like to live there because they said the school is hard there we do not have friends there. My kid’s friends are all here–

14:11
AD: Let me ask you. What did not you like in Kurdistan? Huh?

14:22
AM’s daughter: Uh that is tough.

14:25
AD: Tough?

14:26
AM’s daughter: Um, like it is too hot or like sometimes–

14:30
AM: What did you like?

14:31
AD: So, it is too hot.

14:32
AM: You liked the summer, [in Kurdish] ‘Talk! You do not have to be shy.”

14:40
AM’s daughter: it is too hot. I like the school here better. The school there are, I went with my cousin when she got her card to know whether she pass or not, and her school was not fun I think like. Yeah.

14:57
AD: So, she told you about her school and you made comparison with your school system here?

15:06
AM: Everything is different.

15:08
AM’s daughter: No, I just went with her.

15:11
AD: Oh, you went to her school?

15:12
AM: Yes, my sister’s daughter?

15:14
AD: Oh, you went to her school to see how it is over there?

15:17
AM’s daughter: Yes.

15:18
AD: What did you mean hard? Hard meaning?

15:19
AM’s daughter: it is hot not hard.

15:22
AD: So, it is hot, how about the school? What didn’t you like about her school?

15:34
AM’s daughter: like, I do not know. It was not like the school like each route goes to another room you have to go outside.

15:41
AD: Okay.

15:42
AM: Of course, different, everything is different. The law, the school they have, when I was student in Kurdistan they give us every day many, many homework. Sometime I take my book and notebook about more than ten. They come back from school I tell them please do your homework, do you have a homework? They say yes, they just she have one paper. She finishes in about ten to fifteen minutes they say mummy I am done. I say how. When I was student in middle school I read sometime about two hours, four hours before we go to school. In here school is very easy.

16:29
AD: Easy and more fun right?

16:31
AM: More fun.

16:32
Angels: More freedom.

16:33
AM: More freedom yes.

16:34
Angels: A funny thing is, in social studies we are learning about the world and now we are doing the Arab world. However, before that we were doing Rome and there was only one paragraph about the Etruscans and she told me that studied for a year about the Etruscans then the social studies put this only in one paragraph.

17:02
AM: Yes. Do you know we like America because of the law? Right? In Kurdistan, uh right now is safe is beautiful is look to me like a heaven, because I love my country I love my family I love Kurdish people but we do not have a law. You know the law not to– yes–

17:31
AD: I understand.

17:33
AM: Here we are safe, our kids are safe.

17:39
AD: And it is like more freedom.

17:42
AM: More freedom, yes.

17:51
AD: And you have rights; you have more rights here yeah? That’s why; That is better for you children.

17:55
AM: Yes, yes.

17:58
AD: That is make a lot of sense. Of course.

18:07
AM: Yes, here is better than Kurdistan for our children, for–

18:14
AD: Aysha tell me, so do you think like when you are living in Kurdistan do you think your life is different here, I mean obviously you were not married when you lived in Kurdistan, I am not talking about that. Like how is your life here comparing to Kurdistan, like you still carry all your Kurdishness with you right? So, you are not any less of a Kurd because you live here but you are not in Kurdistan anymore you are in America. So, did you make some changes in your life here, like more modern let me say, how was your life in your family were you very traditional?

19:11
AM: Yes, I was living with my family–

19:14
AD: Yes, but were they very traditional? Your parents?

19:19
AM: – My parents it was very good parents; they let us go to school. I was, eh to me it was like America. I was free. They did not tell me you have to wear hijab, no they did not tell me. But they right now, me too; I tell my daughter like this good way and this is bad. If you want, you have to take good way. My parents too were very good parents–

19:59
AD: So, your mother was covering her head?

20:01
AM: Yes.

20:02
AD: But she did not push you?

20:04
AM: No, she told me if you want because we are Muslim, if you want please pray, if you want fast in Ramadhan, if you want marry for example your cousin if you do not know just we going to tell you this is good person for you and this is not. They did not tell me you have to, no. Our family, all my relatives it was very nice to me. Me and my brother were the same. You go to school I graduate I was a teacher for ten years. I pick my husband, they did not pick for me. Yes.

20:50
AD: But that is not very common in Kurdistan, right? Usually family picks the–

20:57
AM: Not all families, some. A long time ago, right now no. Right now, girl pick. Of course, she has to ask her parents. Before, yes like my mother’s time about fifty years ago, long time ago, they [parents] tell her you have to marry this one, this is good. But right now, no.

21:25
AD: I see, not right now.

21:26
AM: In my age too, no they tell me if you want marry your cousin because a lot of my cousins, my relatives, many people came but I told them no. I do not like this one, you look like my brother. I do not like my cousin. I feel he looked like my brother and I am not going to marry him. My father and my mum they did not tell me you have to marry your cousin. I told him No, I have to graduate I have to go to school and I was, eh if I want sometime I wear Hijab, if I do not like it I am not going to wear it. I was free in Kurdistan too. Not like other families.

22:45
AD: Because there are some families serious–

22:18
AM: There are some families now too. Yes.

22:20
AD: Yeah, they are all covered.

22:25
AM: You have to wear Hijab in some families, but not our family. If I want I am going to put Hijab

22:38
AD: And also, girls [door opens] Oh, Idris is here?

22:42
AM: Yes. [laughs]

22:43
AD: Hi Idris.

22:45
Idris: Hi. How are you?

22:48
AM: [in Kurdish] “Come in! You speak too.”

22:50
AD: How are you, I am learning Aysha’s story. I did not know you had such a tough life Idris.

22:54
AM: [in Kurdish] “Come in! You speak too.”

22:56
Idris: Yeah!

22:56
AD: Yeah? So, you lived in Turkey? I did not know that.

23:00
Idris: Yes, I lived in Turkey for four years.

23:03
AD: Four years? So, you went there after Halabja?

23:10
AM: In 1988–

23:11
AD: So Halabja was in your village?

23:13
Idris: No, a little bit far.

23:15
AM: No, Halabja is next to like eh–

23:16
Idris: It is close to Iran.

23:18
AD: Close to Iran.

23:19
AM: Sulaymaniyah.

23:20
AD: Sulaymaniyah.

23:21
Idris: Yes, close to Sulaymaniyah and Iran.

23:24
AD: But why did you guys leave, why were you so afraid? They were going to come after your village?

23:33
Idris: Anfal.

23:33
AD: Anfal, okay. So, you left because of Anfal,

23:39
Idris: Yeah.

23:39
AM: It was Anfal and they were living in a village.

23:42
Idris: In 1988 yeah.

23:44
AM: And he was Peshmerga, yes Anfal.

23:48
AD: Okay. Who was Peshmerga?

23:49
AM: Kurdish people.

23:51
AD: I know I know, but was his father Peshmerga?

23:56
AM: He can answer.

23:58
AD: But that was just way of life. I know many– Was your father Peshmerga Idris?

24:09
Idris: Long time, during (19)75, (19)74, (19)60.

24:15
AD: Yeah. So, how, did you walk to Turkey? Or did you get–

24:19
Idris: Walking.

24:20
AD: You walked to Turkey?

24:22
AM: Yes.

24:24
AD: Oh my God.

24:25
AM: Me too in 19 ̶ and actually it was 1990 or–

24:29
AD: 1991 right after the Gulf war.

24:34
AM: Yes. Second Anfal.

24:36
AD: I talked to many people, they all walked.

24:39
AM: I am not sure 1990 or 1991.

24:46
AD: How did they treat you in Turkey? Where they–

24:51
Idris: We were on a camp.

24:55
AD: You were just there, they did not allow you to go out of the camps, right? Jandarma [gendarme] was there.

25:00
Idris: Jandarma was there.

25:03
AM: They were scary jandarma. I remember jandarma.

25:10
AD: So, them after four years where did you go? Come here?

25:14
Idris: Come here.

25:16
AM: 1992.

25:18
AD: Really? Oh wow.

25:20
AM: They first went to Dallas.

25:22
AD: So, when Gulf war was happening you were already in Turkey?

25:27
Idris: Yeah.

25:27
AD: So, you missed all that action happening in Iraq, you already–

25:34
Idris: No, we left in 1988, we stayed in Turkey till 1992.

25:39
AD: So how was, this is. I never met anyone who left in 1988 went to Turkey, was there your only choice?

25:51
Idris: all the Kurdish people–

25:52
AM: [in Kurdish] “How many families were there?”

25:53
AD: No, they all told me they went to Turkey or Iran after the Gulf war.

25:56
AM: In (19)90 yes.

25:59
Idris: Yes, that was the second

26:00
AM: Second Anfal.

26:01
AD: I never talked to anyone so far that they went to Turkey in 1988.

26:09
Idris: That was us in (19)88.

26:12
AM: [in Kurdish] “Ours was in 1990 or 1991?”

26:14
Idris: This one and the other people like ran and his family that was 1991.

26:18
AD: Yes, everybody I talked to Reving today, do you know Reving, he is what?

26:20
Idris: He is from my village.

26:34
AD: How come he did not leave in 1988? Now I need to go back to Reving and ask him that question.

26:45
AM: – Idris- Because they lived in Duhok.

26:48
AD: Oh, that is right he was in Duhok. That is right he told me.

26:50
Idris: We are on the Peshmerga’s site. That is different.

26:52
AM: Peshmerga scare from Saddam’s regime to kill them. I was student. I was not scared. I was in school. I did not do anything because I was not Peshmerga, he was Peshmerga, they ran away from Saddam Hussein.

27:11
AD: You were Peshmerga.

27:12
Idris: Oh me.

27:12
AD: That is, I never met any Peshmerga before. But were you always on the mountains?

27:21
Idris: Yeah. Always.

27:29
AD: That is a tough life.

27:31
AM: With his family in his village.

27:32
AD: That was a tough life was not it?

27:33
AM: Yes.

27:34
AD: Do you have any pictures?

27:36
Idris: No, not me.

27:37
AD: No?

27:37
Idris: I was young, I was thirteen years old.

27:41
AD: And you were a Peshmerga?

27:44
Idris: Yeah.

27:44
AD: At the age of thirteen.

27:50
Idris: I was the youngest one. I mean from all the Peshmergas I was the youngest one.

27:52
AD: Oh my God, but Peshmerga was different or is different than PKK [The Kurdistan Workers' Party; Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê]?

28:04
Idris: Yeah, they are different. Peshmerga is in the North of Iraq it is different. PKK is different of Turkey.

28:06
AD: Yeah it is different because women can join PKK I do not think you had female Peshmerga.

28:16
Idris: That time nobody sees PKK, only Peshmerga and Saddam’s regimes fighting.

28:23
AD: So that is why you had to run away because they that said Saddam-

28:23
Idris: They used the chemicals.

28:33
AD: Do you know anyone died because of the chemical weapon?

28:36
Idris: A lot of people died.

28:39
AD: I mean personally.

28:41
Idris: Halabja.

28:42
AD: No, no like did you lose any family members?

28:48
Idris: No, not my family.

28:51
AD: I know many people died but you do not know personally anyone. So, you were safe because you were in school–

29:01
AM: Yes, do you know the people lived in village they were not safe. They ran away to Turkey in 1988. We were safe because we lived in Duhok like a big city. We were in school. We were like, we did not do anything. We were not Peshmerga. Just we were student and other like teachers.

29:32
AD: Yes, I understand.

29:34
AM: Just Peshmerga’s families they scared Saddam. They can kill them. They had to run.

29:46
AD: When I talk to people what understood was there was a lot of fear; people were afraid, most of the time and Saddam was number one reason they were so afraid. Do you agree with that? Like whoever I talk to, that’s the sense I get. They were like really afraid Saddam and then they were afraid of all these uprisings, you know battles you know losing family members, death it is like, you agree with that?

30:32
AM: Saddam Hussein yes, first reason. He was not, I told you before, he was not bad for Kurdish people bad for Arabs too. He Killed many Shiite even his family.

30:56
AD: Was not he from Kirkuk. I thought he was from Kirkuk

31:01
AM: Saddam, No. Tikrit, South of Iraq, next to Mosul.

31:08
AD: You know that is where they were thinking he was hiding remember when he disappeared.

31:14
AM: Yes, his village Tikrit. Yes, after Saddam Hussein, right now Kurdistan is safe look like heaven; it’s beautiful.

31:28
AD: But you still think the United States is like safer and you have more rights here? For you for your kids. Yeah?

31:38
AM: Yeah, yes, of course.

31:40
AD: Today I also learned that, I did not know that Sharia was still in effect in Kurdistan like man could marry more than woman. I did not know that it that was still in effect.

31:57
AM: It is not just Kurdistan. It is halal for Muslim people.

32:01
AD: I know but I did not know, but I did not think.

32:05
AM: Because it is halal if you have a reason.

32:08
AD: That is not halal that is Haram.

32:13
AM: No, God says in Qur’an Kareem it is halal, Idris can marry four, but if he has a reason; if I am not good, if I do not have a kid, if I am like very sick I cannot do anything for him, if I am not a good woman he can marry next one. If I do not have any problem he cannot, it is haram. But in Qur’an Kareem God says that, not us or any other people; God say–

32:46
AD: I thought it was different for Kurdish people, I know that the case for many Arabs.

32:55
AM: This is not Kurdish or Arabic, this is religion; God says men can marry four women if they have a reason.

33:03
AD: But Reving told me that you have to allow him.

33:07
AM: Yes.

33:08
AD: I have to give him permission. If you do not give him permission, then he cannot.

33:14
AM: Yes, if women say no, you cannot marry, he cannot. Yes, I told you if he has a reason

33:23
AD: But not in this country?

33:28
AM: I swear I see every night in American channel, he saved me and my five wives.

33:40
AD: Which channel?

33:41
AM: Channel 62, every night.

33:50
AD: That is not legal. You can only have one wife and one husband.

34:00
AM: Yes

34:01
AD: That is– some Mormons in Utah, it is illegal its polygamy. It is illegal.

34:02
AM: Yes.

34:03
AD: But so anyway I am learning, so I did not think that was the case for Kurdistan.

34:21
AM: Kurdistan too. We know some Kurdish have three women.

34:27
AD: You know somebody actually?

34:29
AM: I know one person in here. Ezaddin has two wives.

34:35
Idris: No no,

34:36
AD: Here?

34:37
Idris: No no.

34:38
AM: [Speaking in Kurdish].

34:40
AD: I do not know those people, do not worry, do not worry. Do not give any names but anyway even if you would give me the names I would not know that.

34:52
AM: Yes.

34:53
AD: But some people have that.

34:56
AM: Yes, some people have three wives.

34:58
AD: Yeah, that is okay.

35:00
AM: Yes, for someone they can marry another one. If she have a problem.

35:06
AD: But women work in Kurdistan, you worked in school.

35:10
AM: Yes, right now Kurdistan looks like Europe. Looks like Istanbul. Right now.

35:20
AD: Yeah?

35:21
AM: Yes, before when Saddam Hussein was president, no. We even we could not have satellite. Nobody had satellite. Nobody had internet. Nobody had cell phone. Some family had phone at home. But after Saddam Hussein, right now if you go to Kurdistan, it is safe and beautiful, looks like Europe.

35:55
AD: Yes, I want to go to Kurdistan.

35:57
AM: Right now, very rich people in Kurdistan.

36:02
AD: Yeah, so. It was tough.

36:14
AM: We want to go back. I do not like here.

36:17
AD: Idris do you want to go back to Kurdistan to live there?

36:20
Idris: I want to go back one day?

36:21
AD: One day? But how about your kids if they say they are not going to–

36:26
Idris: My kids do not like there.

36:28
AM: They are not going to come, if they come I am going to leave tomorrow. But they say the school.

36:31
AD: But that, AM you told me they have more rights here.

36:38
AM: Yes.

36:39
AD: So, if they say they want to go back like going back is it good for them? It is not good for them.

36:47
AM: No not good.

36:48
AD: Not good? Because they have more freedom.

36:50
AM: More freedom here, school better. They were born here. They like to go to Kurdistan for visit sometime, every two year may be. But they do not want to live there. Everything is different. Yes.

37:08
AD: Yes, it is different because they are from here.

37:12
AM: We have to stay here because of the kids, because the school, because it is safe.

37:23
AD: So, your sister’s daughter is in Nashville?

37:27
AM: Yes, she is in Nashville right now.

37:29
AD: Do you have any other family members here?

37:31
AM: Nashville.

37:32
AD: In Nashville?

37:33
AM: We know many Kurdish people in Nashville.

37:35
AD: No, no your family.

37:36
AM: My family no, just my sister and her family, her husband, she lives in Nashville, TN.

37:47
AD: Oh really? So, you could go visit your sister, too right?

37:49
AM: Yes, we can.

37:53
Idris: No, her sister not, her niece is there.

37:55
AD: Her niece is there?

37:56
AM: I am her aunt. She is my sister’s daughter.

38:01
AD: So only you and your niece are in the United States? Do you have any family members?

38:09
Idris: No.

38:09
AM: Just her, she is close to me.

38:12
AD: How about you?

38:13
Idris: I have a lot.

38:16
AD: So, Idris when did you when did you come here?

38:20
Idris: In (19)92.

38:21
AD: Oh, you came in (19)92? That is right. So, you came way before everybody came here.

38:28
Idris: I came before all Kurdish people here just my family my uncle Tahir, and the other Uncle Khalid and my cousin Loqman–

38:47
AD: So, are you related to Reving?

38:51
Idris: Not too close.

38:53
AD: Same tribe, are you guys in the same tribe?

38:57
Idris: Same tribe.

38:59
AD: Yeah? Because tribe– everybody is part of a tribe, right?

39:01
Idris: I mean it is like my grandpa’s cousin, not me and him, but grandpa’s cousin.

39:11
AD: Yeah, so you lived your life in mountains basically and then refugee camps then you came here?

39:22
Idris: Yeah. Not all my life, part of it. It is like ten years old.

39:34
AD: So, you were in your village until you were ten years old then.

39:47
Idris: No, we lived in Zakho and village, yeah.

39:51
AM: Kurdistan just like Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah like big city, other all villages. Like nice village have everything like electricity.

40:03
AD: Oh really?

40:04
AM: Yes.

40:04
AD: That is good.

40:06
AM: Yes, if you go to our village like Bamarne. It is nice like here.

40:13
AD: Because eve n today I do not think every village in east Turkey has electricity, road and water.

40:21
AM: Right now, yes. Kurdistan too has everything.

40:23
Idris: If you see the villages in Kurdistan right now it is better than city.

40:26
AD: I know all the construction going on right now, it is booming.

40:29
AM: Right now, everybody likes village.

40:33
Idris: You know some people have houses in two million dollars. And you cannot buy the same house here in five million dollars.

40:44
AM: If you go to Kurdistan now you going to say I am not going to go back to Binghamton. Looks like heaven. I wish I go now because our kids, because school we cannot. We have to stay here.

41:08
AD: Stay here! So, do you think since you got here, I asked that Aysha, let me ask you this, since you have been living here do you think your Kurdishness came out more or did you lose any of your Kurdishness since you have been living here for a long time, over twenty years?

41:31
Idris: Yes.

41:33
AD: Are you less of a Kurd? Or are you even like more feeling more Kurdish? Like your Kurdish identity even came out stronger or did you lose any?

41:45
AD: You do not know?

41:50
AM: Not me. Do you know when we are here, I feel like I have not lost anything like I am Kurdish when I told you before. Everything the same, our religion, our inside home. But when we went to Kurdistan, we saw a little bit difference. They did not look like before. They are different people, they are very rich people. We are different.

42:32
AD: I see.

42:33
AM: When we went to Kurdistan for visit, yes.

42:36
AD: So, they changed not you.

42:38
AM: They changed not us, yes, they changed

42:43
AD: Laughs.

42:43
AM: Because they do not look like us anymore.

42:44
AD: Now they are rich. Money does that ha?

42:48
AM: Yes, they have changed a lot, when we go, we saw a difference like they are better than us.

42:52
AD: I see.

42:57
AM: They get rich, they have nice car, mansions. Kurdistan now is beautiful, but still not safe. Here is better. Here safer and better for Kids, for us and more freedom and yes.

43:20
AD: So, do you feel, actually I need to ask that Idris as well since he has been working forever over there; do you feel, like when you were working, or Idris now you are still working so do you feel that people exclude you?

43:52
AM: What do you mean?

43:53
AD: Can you tell that what I mean? Like do you feel they treat you differently because you are not American?

44:05
AM: When you work somewhere.

44:07
AD: Or when, I mean like you know like he is Kurdish or she is Kurdish–

44:17
AM: Because we are not from here, you mean?

44:24
AD: Yes, do you feel that, do you feel that you are an outsider?

44:27
AM: Yes, I feel.

44:28
AD: You do?

44:29
AM: Yes,

44:30
AD: Okay, give me some example like what happened that, but is it because you are Kurd or It is because you are a foreigner, I am drinking that, [laughs]-

44:40
AM: I feel that when I work somewhere like a factory, I feel that I am not American, I feel that this is not my country, I feel some people mean to us sometimes, some are very good. Everywhere have good people and bad people, sometime have very mean people because I think sometime because I am not from here, or sometime maybe they say because she is a Muslim.

45:19
AD: I see.

45:20
AM: Yes.

45:21
AD: How about you Idris? Do you feel that?

45:24
Idris: Oh me?

45:25
AD: Yeah.

45:26
Idris: Of course, how about you?

45:28
AD: I do, but I do not want you to give you my answer, of course I do.

45:33
AM: Yeah, everybody, we like our country better.

45:36
AD: But do you think it is because–

45:37
Idris: Do you know what? I like here, but the thing is I like my country better than here. I born there all my family are there, my language my culture everything is different. As I tell you I am being honest with you now still there is, it is not like here freedom, still fighting there. No more fight, everything is safe I am going back tomorrow, why I am going to staying here?

46:30
AD: So, you feel that.

46:31
Idris: Yes.

46:32
AM: Yes, everybody. Yes everybody

46:35
AD: But I mean, Okay, you feel that because you are an immigrant or you feel that because you are Kurdish, do they even know what Kurdish is around here?

46:46
AM: Not because Kurdish no, because you are immigrant.

46:48
AD: Because you are immigrant.

46:50
AM: Because some American do not like Muslims.

47:00
AD: Especially after 9/11, right?

47:04
AM: Yes, yes. And everywhere have good people and bad people even in Kurdistan, but here because not our country yes, we feel it.

(End of interview)


Date of Interview

10 May 2014

Interviewer

Aynur de Rouen

Interviewee

Aysha Mohmmod

Biographical Text

Aysha is originally from Duhok. She moved to the United States after she married her husband, Idris.  Aysha is has a degree in Elementary Teaching in Kurdistan. Although she lives with her husband and three children in the Binghamton area, she still occasionally visits her family in Kurdistan.

Duration

47:21 minutes

Language

English

Digital Publisher

Binghmaton University

Interview Format

Audio

Rights Statement

This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as: Kurdish Oral History Project, Special Collections, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections for more information.

Keywords

Kurdistan; Iraq; Binghamton; Broome County; Education; Refugees; Turkish Camps; Kurdish Culture; Family; Islam; Religion; PKK; Peshmerga;

Files

Citation

“Aysha Mohmmod,” Digital Collections, accessed May 27, 2022, https://omeka.binghamton.edu/omeka/items/show/570.