When I meet Kurds and Iraqis in public, there are three questions I am invariably asked. Same order, same wording, same rapidity.
1) Are you married?
2) Where’s your father?
3) Where’s your brother?
And the answers – no, America, America – never make anyone happy. After the third question they always give up and sigh.
Once I lied, but that made things ridiculously complicated. Here’s how it went:
1) Are you married? Yes.
2) Does he live in America or Kurdistan? Kurdistan.
3) Is he Christian or Muslim? Christian.
4) Are you Christian, too? …Yes…
5) Is his family Christian? Yes.
6) Do you live with them? No.
7) Where do they live? America.
8) Where’s your father? …
At that point I gave up and pretended I didn’t understand. Te nagum.
But unfortunately, te agum, and also I understand the reasoning and the attitudes which perpetuate this belief that women need male guardians. Actually, maybe it’s fortunate. At least I’m learning. This is why I wanted to be here, right? To learn.
It’s much easier to feel like I belong somewhere when I don’t see both sides of the situation. But it’s much easier to feel like I belong to myself when I do.