by Rosie Malek-Yonan
4 July 2008
I stand for a thousand voices. I stand for the voices of the past. I stand for the voice of my Assyria. I stand for those who speak to me in my dreams, consuming my mind. They nudge me out of sleep to tell me their stories. Their images haunt me. I lay awake to hear their tales:
“You didn’t walk the Death Marches, but your soul was here among us. You will carry the memories of our nation with you when you are born in the future. You will have the memories of the ragged people we became. You will know our pain. You will see our eyes. They stifled our cries but you will hear us. Be our voice. Tell our tale.
We carried very little on our backs and so heavy a load in our hearts. Fear and panic crippled us. Sleep was snatched from our eyes. Comfort gave way to blistered feet and thirsty mouths.
Mothers with swollen bellies carrying hope of the future, sang lullabies to stone babies discarded on the roadside.
We witnessed our Assyrian nation being torn down soul by soul. But we pushed on days into nights. We prayed nights into daybreak hoping to survive the carnage.
We didn’t know it then, but we, living a threadbare existence, were planting the seeds of the future children of Assyria even as we dragged our tired limbs across the desert towards the unknown.
The Death Marches into the wilderness became a journey to safeguard the future of the Assyrian nation. You are the future of Assyria.
Strike a match to light the night out of its darkness. Don’t forget us. La menshiyat.”
I strike a match to light the night out of its darkness. Le menshiyan. I will not forget.
© Rosie Malek-Yonan 2008. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rosie Malek-Yonan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Note: This piece is the “Overture” to a one-woman-stage play written and performed by Rosie Malek-Yonan. The play is based on true family journals and war diaries of the Malek-Yonan Family written during the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918 and the final Assyrian Exodus from Urmi, Iran in 1918. The play was previewed in August 2008 in Hartford, CT.