Fingers That Crush Each Other - By Rauf Naqishbendi

I keep revisiting the book Fingers That Crush Each Other (Panjakan Yaktry Ash Kenen) written in the Kurdish language by Nosherwan Mustafa Emin and published in 1997 by Postfach Publishing, Germany.  I don’t remember when I acquired this book, but it has been in my bookcase for a while. Hereafter, I will refer to it as Panjakan. I value my small collection of Kurdish literary and poetry books and keep reading them. My beloved American wife told me more than once that I keep reading the same books. They are dear and special to me because they are about my heritage, the country of my birth, the place of pride and tragedies. Should in my deathbed just before closing my eyes to the world turning leaves of any book, it will be leaves of one of these. 

I was always frustrated with the lack of a good and genuine Kurdish history book, one written about Kurds from Kurdish experience rather being based on a foreign writer’s work. It is too late for our forefathers to have done so, not because of their own fault, but rather because of the brutality of our occupiers and their forbidding the mention of Kurd, let alone its history. 

I read Panjakan and greatly enjoyed the reading. It is a four-year memoir of Nosherwan’s struggle from 1979-1983.  In reality it is not about himself, but rather about that most important period of history which subsequently destined the Kurdish politics and struggle for generations to come.

Undoubtedly, the book is the view of one man in the ranking leadership of a powerful player, the Kurdish Patriotic Union (PUK), a man who wrote what one needs to know about that period. Even though there were many players in the political theater at that time, at least we have a full account from one player through Panjakan. It also tells us about others through their interaction and confrontation with the PUK.

Nosherwan has been very objective in his writing.  In many places he humbly confesses the mistakes of his party.  Through this work one can understand deeply and profoundly the Kurdish struggle’s ailing defeat and disunity. Nosherwan talks about a crowded theater with many unharmonious players, many of whom were attracted to the stage for their own benefit, disregarding the long-due Kurdish cause for freedom and liberty. The book is not a complete picture of the targeted period, yet it is the best so far reflection upon it.

Panjakan not only describes four years’ of Nosherwan’s struggle, but also provides a brief credible history of the Kurdish struggle in the twentieth century, the political parties, and their leaders. It explains in a nutshell what caused the 1961 Kurdish revolution, how it came about, its virtues and vices. It briefly gives the motives and personality of Mustafa Barzani and describes the Barzani clan and their figureheads.

This book is not about Nosherwan but the Kurdish struggle during one of the most significant stages of Kurdish history. Undeniably, Mr. Nosherwan is a qualified leader, a great speaker, and an eloquent writer. Panjakan is a great reading in style, proper in language, and rich in content. It added greatly to my knowledge of modern Kurdish history, and I am thankful to Mr. Nosherwan Mustafa for his contribution to the documentation of Kurdish history. 

Setting politics to the side and shedding a light on Nosherwan’s contribution to Kurdish history and literature, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. In the meantime, I will continue to prize Panjakan and preserve it in my bookcase in my small literary collection.


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May 26, 2009
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