“Survivor” by Rohan Naik

by Rohan Naik ’20

“I’m going to kill everyone of those bastards who persecuted us, they will die!” I said.

Lukas is my one and only brother, at least the only one left. When the Irani government authorized the genocide of assyrians in Iran, we had no choice but to flee. We crossed the border into Iraq, illegally, and went into hiding in the city of Basra, where we had some “friends”. Back in Iran, the government slaughtered all Assyrians hiding in small places like Iranshahr to large ones like Tehran. 

About a week ago, we were living as fugitives, hiding in the city of Basra, hoping for salvation. One of the fellow Assyrians came over with food, “Shimmi ileh Ashah, min eket?”. I pretended not to understand and with Lukas next to me, I thought she was a threat. She repeated, “My name is Ashah, what’s your name?”

“None of your business,” I responded with hostility. 

“I was just wondering who you were, you look assyrian,” 

“Go mind your own business” 

“Look, I have some food for you and that kid over, would you like some?”

Gosh damn it. Lukas and I were both starving so much that we really couldn’t deny any offer for food. I let out a sigh, and accept the food the lady gave us. 

“Listen La- uhh, Ms. Ashah, I’m sorry for acting hostile towards you. No hard feelings, but ever since the genocide has begun, you really can’t trust anyone.” I educated her. 

“I understand,” Ashah responded, “Well, have a good day, Khuda Hafiz (Islamic farewell).”

I sat down near the edge of broken building staring out at the sunset. Lukas came over and sat next to me. The sun was setting as we ate the bread that Ashah gave us. 

“Brother, are we gonna die?”, Lukas asked 

“What nonsense are you talking about, we’ve lived this long, there’s no way we’re gonna die.” I reply

“But I heard that Iraqi forces are beginning their attack on Basra, I’m scared.” 

“Lukas, don’t worry, if anything happens I’ll protect us,” I consoled him. Iraqi forces have advanced to the border of Basra, locking the city down. I was scared that something might happen, like what happened back home. Rouhani had just implemented an act that persecuted all Assyrians. My parents and older brother were on their way back from work from a city called Isfahan, when they were attacked by Irani forces. Soon after, Lukas and I were next. We heard explosions outside our house, and watched as tanks tore the buildings and crushed people like grapes under their weight. Guns blazing, helpless cries, we saw and heard them all. We ran towards the desert where we figured we’d be safe. We reached the border city of Abadan where the news reported on one of TV’s that an air raid near Isfahan had killed several Assyrians, including my parents and older brother whose car was on fire. My brother and I ran, even when we knew we were safe, we couldn’t risk getting hurt. 

At Abadan, we learnt that the safest sanctuary was across the border in Iraq, in the city of Basra, where many Assyrians alike are living their lives as fugitives. We hid in the streets, and before crossing into the borde- 

Snoooooore. Snooooooore. 

Ugh, Lukas may be my only brother remaining whom I really love and want to protect, but right now, I just wish a bomb blew up near here so he can stop snoring.  I got up and took a walk around the building, found the stairs to the roof and climbed up. It felt like it was 3am, and I saw a few Assyrian forces, sleeping with weapons armed and ready for any surprises. Their captain, was taking a light, I walk towards him. He sees me and tells me about how the Iraqi forces are beginning their siege of Basra. 

“A boat will come by to pick you up, you will go to Indonesia.” He said

“Got it sir.” I say

It was 3 am, and that’s when we heard the first shot. Iraqi forces blew up a school in northern Basra. Everyone got scared and woke up. I quickly grabbed a rifle from the pile next to the stache and a few clips and run down to where Lukas was. Lukas was still sleeping soundly. 

“Lukas. Lukas! Lukas!!! Wake up!!! There’s an attack!” I yell. 

Lukas mumbles and slowly gets up, I grabbed his arm and ran with him. We managed to get downstairs but the Iraqi army was there waiting for us. 

“We have to find another way,” I say

Lukas took me towards the back of the building, near the gym. Nobody can imagine what I saw. Through the windows, we saw a large number of assyrians tied and Iraqi forces with their guns aimed at them. Ashah was in there, and it was the last moment I had to see her. We had to detour again. We went upstairs towards the roof, jumped through a hole and landed next to a blown opening. Lukas started towards the opening and looked back to see me, with an injured foot. 

“Brother!!” Lukas yelled.

“Go! Leave me!” I yell back

“No, not without you”, he came back and grabbed me by the shoulder and carried me over outside, but it wasn’t over yet. Suddenly, we heard explosions, everything around us began to collapse. Then, Lukas pushed me out. 

“Allahu akbar. Live brother,” 

“NO!!”. Slabs of concrete fell on Lukas. My last brother, the only reason for my survival, was gone. I didn’t want to believe he was dead though. He definitely managed to survive, he had to! 

I walked towards the rubble calling out to him, “Lukas? Lukas? Lu-”. Out of a gap in the rubble, I saw a bloody face covered in dust. I felt a hole of emptiness and anger in my heart. It felt like the loss of my parents and older brother, but now… worse. The face I saw was of my dear little brother who kept his smile even into death. Cries and Tears erupted from my body as the shelling continued around me. I stayed like that for a while and then in a fit of rage, I stood up with the rifle clenched tightly in my hand.