By Chia N. Mustafa
Chia N. Mustafa ’09 attends Harvard College and is a Government concentrator living in Kirkland House.
As I learned it growing up in Kurdistan, the myth of the creation of the Kurdish people goes something like this: long ago there lived an evil Assyrian king named Dehaq, cursed with two giant man-eating snakes extending from his shoulders. The snakes grew and slowly took control of the old king’s mind. To sustain the snakes, the king ordered that human brains be mixed into a stew and fed to them everyday. As the snakes began to demand ever more food, the king sacrificed ever more of his subjects. One of the palace guard sabotaged the king’s plan to slaughter innocents by mixing sheep’s brains into the vile stew and saving half the people who would otherwise have been slaughtered. These survivors were sent to the far eastern corner of the kingdom, where they lived in the mountains and became the mythic founders of the Kurdish nation.
On their inadequate diet of sheep’s brains, the snakes grew weaker. The king soon uncovered the deceit of his guard, who was promptly killed and fed to the snakes. After weeks of welcoming new arrivals to their refuge in the mountains, the Kurds noticed that something was amiss when the stream of visitors and exiles stopped. Even though they now thrived, they could never forget the terror of King Dehaq and constantly thought of those who were still suffering in their homeland.