Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish writer and journalist incarcerated in our black site on Manus Island.
Opinion Piece by Behrouz Boochani published in The Age 05/02/2016
Love song of a caged bird
(From Green Hell on Manus)
Forgive me my bird
as I am not able to embrace you.
But here, in this corner,
I know some migrating birds
who I smile to at the crack of dawn
and embrace with open arms,
as open as the immensity of the sky.
Forgive me my beautiful love
as I am not able to partake of the aromatic scent of your breath.
But here, in this ruin,
I know some wild flowers
that grow every morning in my heart
and in the dead of the night
drift into sleep with me, in my place.
Forgive me my angel
as I am not able to caress your gentle skin with my fingertips.
But I have a lifelong friendship
with the breath of the sea
and those breezes strum my nude skin
here, in this green hell!
as I am not able to climb the green mountains of your body,
but here, in the depths of darkness, in the middle of every night,
I enjoy deep and utter seclusion
with the tall, veiny coconut trees.
I sing you in the profundities of the oldest and the oddest songs,
further away from the world of a man who loves you
amongst the deepest oceans
and the darkest forests.
Inside a cage,
the man loves you,
inside a cage located between the vastest ocean and the greenest forests.
Forgive me my love
Forgive me my love as I am solely able to love you from a remote island,
inside a cage,
from the corner of this small room.
Forgive me please
as the only portion of the world that belongs to me
-Behrouz Boochani, Manus Island
The Presence of Animals
Here, in the neighbourhood of the people who stare for twenty-four hours solely at walls and metal, the presence of animals is a virtue; That flock of birds gliding at night under the dramatic moon creates a magical and striking scene in our minds; so to the orchestra of frogs that have no home except a lagoon that clings to the ocean; shunning the ocean as they grow old, the eldest crabs sink into the damp mud under the fences and after a while drift into a deep sleep; slithering under the fences curious snakes sometimes enter the prison like strangers and usually lose their lives for their innocent trespass; when the unique fish-eating eagle with a white neck dives into the ocean bed it catches a big fish; colourful parrots love to hold their family, gathering on the tallest coconut trees. Here animals are the finest elements in the mind of a lonely prisoner who has no interests but the sky, the ocean and the jungle, all beyond the fences.
– Behrouz Boochani 2016
image taken from http://www.larsfoto.se/en/gallery/fagelbilder-fran-utlandsresor/papua-new-guinea—remote/8926-white-bellied-sea-eagle?page=2&sort=taxonomy&order=asc&res=900
The women of Kurdistan.
I will talk to you of Kurdistan and mountains, of beautiful trees and rare flowers. I will talk of wild rivers, tall waterfalls and amazing music. I will talk of my father, the shepherd, who was inseparable from nature. I will talk of my mother who worked too hard to find something for us to eat and, when there was none, lay our heads on her lap and sung us beautiful stories to make us sleep. I will talk to you of Kurdistan made a battle-field, of a childhood filled with war, of 50,000 Kurds killed on one day by chemical weapons, of our soil soaked in blood. I will talk to you of Kurdistan and the women I admire. The women of Kurdistan who fight, sing and dance. The women who fight, sing and dance.
Today was very good day for me. I wrote beautifully. I was writing about those children
who were in Manus before us. Did you know those children wrote some poems on the wall of my room.
The first night I came to this room, I had a nightmare: Some children were in the green island
and they sank in the deep ocean. When I opened my eyes I saw they had written on my wall
Beautiful God please take us to a beautiful place kiss kiss.
That Dark Night
That night in prison I had a toothache. It was a dark night . People were sleeping at that time. I could not scream. On that dark night I could not do anything, I was fighting with pain. One old man was there. I thought he was dead. He was 76 years old, he was very sick. People were sleeping at that time and it was raining. There were dogs. It was a dark night, deep dark, I felt cold. It was a dirty place. The ground was hard and I was without any pillow or blanket. I had pain in my elbow, my knee and all my bones. The ground was very hard. I was so so hungry too. That old man, that old man slept outside the prison near the fences on dirty shoes. He was sick and they did not allow him to sleep inside. He was 76 years. He had a long beard. He was a muslim. I thought him a mysterious old man. He was vomiting near the fences. He was vomiting and he had to sleep on the vomit. He was so dirty. He slept like a foetus. Inside the prison everyone was laying close. Some lizards were hunting insects on the roof. Inside the prison was light but outside was dark, deep dark. Most of the people had dirty sheets – a green colour. I did not have a sheet or pillow.
Can you imagine?
Suddenly the sky started to rain. The lizards and insects left and the dogs started to bark. I saw a mass grave all around me. It was a green colour. I stood up and went near the prison door. The old man was sleeping near the door but outside. When I saw him I thought he was dead. I saw his vomit. Far away I saw lights under a tree. I thought some children were asleep near the prison in a warm and soft place and had sunk in their dream. One evening I had seen the children. They were playing and they were happy. The lights were cigarettes. Some guards were there. I had a toothache. I was fighting with pain. Outside was very dark, so dark. I was disappointed and so sad.
– Behrouz Boochani 2014
The Black Kite
Over Manus Island,
a black kite flies.
The hands of youths –
still with energy
to bear the difficulties
of this prison camp –
The black kite,
a messenger of freedom,
flies for us,
the forgotten prisoners.
See it circle
higher and higher
above the camp,
above the beautiful coconuts.
See our eyes follow its flight.
It wants to tear its rope
and break free.
Dancing towards the ocean,
it flies far and again further
until no one can see it.
The youths stare into the empty sky
after their impossible dream.
– Behrouz Boochani (2014)
Translation by Ali Parsaei and Janet Galbraith