HOMAGE TO ROJAVA
Walter Sebastian Adler
i.e. Kawa Zivistan,
i.e. Abu Yazan,
i.e. Zachariah Arstien Artesh
Dedicated to the martyrs of Rojava
By Pushkin Theatre for the Arts
“LIVE YOUR LIFE”
An American Mayakovsky Production
Walter Sebastian Adler
Adoneav, a mad man and a fugitive
Sasho, a fearsome Voorhi
Medved, an intellectual gangster
Dmitry, a corporate lawyer
Maria Silverstova, a journalist, perhaps also a spy
Shoresh, a subversive
Anya, a lovely martyr
Old Newey, A poltical prisoner
Saint Reed, a colonial marine
Anna Belle Rhubarb, a mystic
Abu Hamza, a fixer
Mountain Rock, a professional soldier
Spirit of War, a georgian guerrilla
Daria sometimes called Goldy, a Courtesan
A MIDDLE EASTERN WESTERN
NEW YORK GRAD
Sebastian Adonaev enters the Tavern. A place of refuge! The double doors swing shut and seal him inside. The place is entirely deserted. Music plays lightly. He is a fugitive and a soldier returning from a forgotten foreign war. He is losing his mind. A shot girl, Maria Silverstova with forty bullet shots, sells Vodka based drinks. They meet eyes.
Well I guess I didn’t die in the war!
But my friends are dead.
I survived to say the most and do the least.
We are the ones who held the barricades
I just returned,
On a shuttle from the fires of the Middle East,
I survived, I survived by happenstance,
This I know!
When dozens that I slept beside are now in coffins,
In the ground below.
This revolution is a first, and perhaps also the last chance.
Their fearless faces,
Are now martyr posters on a wall,
Reports are now coming in, the Turkish Army is fast advancing;
Rojava will most likely fall!
Well I guess I didn’t die in the war!
But my friends are dead.
I walk in concentric circles, I try to tell our story,
A story etched upon my brain.
I tell the tale to many scared civilians, they look at me like a mad man,
A foreign person. A person gone insane!
Thanks to the fallen, the Islamic State is now defeated.
Thanks to the YPG and YPJ these bandits have retreated.
Now raise the glass or the flag!
For what we’ve done!
American thanks, still it remains unsaid.
There was a clear and present danger,
A vile Jihadist menance,
Lives lost, flags flown high, the dead cannot mourn the dead.
Thanks to my training:
I can stay awake for days,
Here I am!
Here I am.
I’m alive, I’m alive but my friends are dead,
Find me the means, count me in all the ways!
Back in this fortress of a city,
In the heart of the Empire,
Make a stand;
You know the way!
This is your land.
What we gave and what we lost is a nightmare that forever will replay!
On the very soil of my homeland,
the total safety of this place,
I beg my God, I beg my family and my lovers,
Give me bullets!
Let me not die in disgrace!
In my adopted not-a-country Kurdistan,
The enemy advances
The Turkish Army kills my people, burns our cities,
Aims to defeat our revolution,
What are the odds,
What are the chances?
I know forever I will carry, the faces of my dead friends, dagger etched inside me the on the innermost compartment of my mind,
There was so much hurry up and waiting, there were bodies on the road,
40,000 died for Kurdistan!
Everything around you could explode!
There was fire on the mountains there, there was bloody murder in the streets,
There was marching, there was dying,
There was attacking,
There was terror,
There was going forward then retreating.
Thanks to my training,
I can take apart a rifle. I can put it back together.
Thanks to my training,
I can engage in democracy, I can believe we can do better.
Well I guess I didn’t die in the war!
I’m alive! I’m alive!
But my friends are dead.
I was hiding in that Tavern,
then Adonaev said:
During our border reentry run from Rojava back into here, most of our column was blown apart in missile strikes. We hid in a P.K.K. dugout bunker for two days. I was covered in piss, shit, blood, mostly other people’s blood, mostly my own piss. Heval Jansher, my mentor and immediate commander, I think he died in a drone strike. Died getting us out of Rojava before the Turkish invasion began. I turned 33. An Armenian volunteer bought me an oriental woman. But all I wanted to do was take a long hot shower. Wash the filth and death off of me. Get out of that fucking uniform forever, and get on the next evacuation shuttle. Get back to Daria alive!
I spent the evening of my 33rd birthday in a Chinese bathhouse on the outskirts of Sulaimaniya. Yet, not one thing in it was made clean. Or for bathing. “Suly”, or also called “Slemani”, is the more libertine of the Kurdish cities in liberated North Western Iraq. A liberated, but unrecognized country politically divided by two city states.
The Chinese sex worker bore witness to a madness that would soon follow. My colleague, balls deep in something carnal his way come. I just kept washing myself vigorously. The filth I felt of cowardice. The shame of retreat. She put her hands on me for only a moment and I shuddered. Pushed her away. I then fell on my knees and I cried. I picked myself up, and the Armenian volunteer paid our bill. We had a beer in the adjacent bar. Right before midnight we took a cab back to the safehouse. They went through our bags to make sure nothing would flag us at an airport. Some party men put us in a van with tinted windows then we were hustled through security. My magic carpet landed in Baghdad. Then a 24 hour layover in Cairo. Almost fell out of the sky over the Atlantic several times. Then with no questions asked I was in JFK.
Now! I am back in Newyorkgrad, far from the war raging in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. But! The war and the ghosts never leave me. I ride the train with plump and ignorant civilians. Some Chornay put on an obnoxious ‘show time’.
By way of Baghdad then Cairo, now I am back. My mind isn’t where I had thought I’d left it and neither are any of my friends and family. Is it March? It’s March or it’s April. I have just done an eighty-day bid in the hospital. Might have been eighty with a two-day run for the mountains in between. I might be facing an assault charge. I might be tailed. I hide in the only place I think I can fit in. A Tavern on Ludlow street. I call Sasho from a pay phone. He says to lay low and head to the Tavern right before nightfall. I don’t know what the hospitals did to me, actually. I just want to kill myself.
I showed up at the Tavern very early. The place is empty. The owner Sasho isn’t around nor is my friend and associate, the Gangster Medved. On the wire, I heard Ms. Daria will get married tomorrow on her 29th birthday, right after the curtain call on a play she sings in, in Midtown. She wrote to me every day during the war. I think I’m just too late.
I think I’m being followed. I threw my phone in the river. Now I don’t have a phone. I’m either chasing myself in a circle around the Isle of Man, or the follow-follow men are trailing me. Seeing who I meet with before they pick me up again.
Well anyway, there’s only one way in, but four ways out of this Bulgarian tavern. Other than a pity coffee here and there, everyone is nervous about me and giving me tons of space. Avoiding me that is to say. Not Medved, he’s buying me a drink. Out in the wide open. Like he doesn’t give a fuck!
In walks a newly hired shot girl Maria Silverstova. A chesty young thing. She says she is “from Moscow” but is actually from the glorious nation of Bulgaria.
Why hello my very strange one! My wayward and my leeward Amerikanski. You can say Privet to me, my old new friend. For I do know you naked.
I had met Ms. Maria at the Bulgarian Bar the very night I got off the evacuation plane. I first met her again on international working women’s day.
She gave me a good price. There are 70 Rubles in Dollar. Her shots cost 280. Her body is far more. Her mind is not for sale.
I tell people “I’m from Moscow”, though of course I am not.
My waist is tight and breasts are quite ample. It is all contained under a little black cocktail dress. Holding around forty plastic bullets of Vodka; I sell them in the Tavern for 70 Rubles apiece. Ethnically speaking I am clearly one of Russia’s 157 sub-ethnicities, perhaps a Chechen, perhaps part Tajik or Uzbek. I think I am a very good listener.
Sasho said you were coming to hide out with us.
I’m looking for Medved.
And Medved, he looks for you, droogy.
Sasho said, “try and make him happy”.
Sasho has a long history with him. Aiding and abetting a terrorist. The Bulgarians have never really expelled him from that ugly little tavern. In an on-scene kind of way, maybe they encourage him. Giving him a refuge.
Adonaev doesn’t remember meeting me 80 days ago. He came here right from the airport. Had Sasho the Voorhi sort him out some work and some papers.
He looked and still looks like a terrifying person, a real mad man.
He had just gotten that very same night in a stupid fist fight, beat a Chornay half to death yelling racial epitaphs. And almost was asked to exit, relinquishing his tavern card last Saturday.
I draw him over to a small table, though on duty as a shot girl I remain an inquisitive journalist.
Maria, Tovarish Maria how goes the life of night?
I’m alive. It’s a start from which all options can follow. Would you like a drink?
Not on your ruble.
There are other Rubles to pour from. Let’s sit. Tell me about the Civil War. A little bit, enough to have a sense of what anyone is supposed to do about you or your friends who came back to us.
More good was done than any evil, by my Otriad anyway. I’m sure the others killed more Jihadists and I did more medical care, but it was all a group effort. But really, few of my friends survived the war. The Arabs and Kurds are just going to grind away until Turkey rolls in to squash the entire revolution.
What Otriad did you serve in? I’m a little familiar with actors.
I served in the Shahid Firat Tabor of the People’s Protection Units, the Y.P.G.
The Kurdish Militia received American support to defeat the Islamic State.
Freedom fighting and or U.S. Imperialism, maybe both? Same, same; not different?
We were defending the only alleged Democracy in the Middle East, besides the alleged democracy in Israel. Turkey was bombing us from the North, Al Qaeda attacking from Idlib in the West, the Hashid Shaabi Popular Mobilization forces from the East, and ISIS from the south.
You take guns from who offers them in that kind of situation, nu.
So, on the news tonight. Turkey has begun a new Operation against Rojava. You are aware Afrin Canton is almost completely overrun and Mambij is next and the Turkish army will probably undo all if any progress you all had made out there, against whoever it was the Americans had you fighting? And have now abandoned.
I don’t sleep well anymore. I use combinations of masturbation, drinking, and drugs to put the lights out, I guess some emphasis on the drinking too. I get it. We all died or almost died or didn’t die and it was all for nothing. I get it. And Goldy and I will never see each other again, and I writhe in pain avoiding my face in the mirror.
I need help from you or Medved. A different kind of bullet.
Prosto! You just need a new whore! Excuse me, I mean muse. Someone to pay to love you even better than before. Not me, I’m too much for you too. I too want luxury carrots to remember. Not paintings or any poems. The couple times we eye to eyed, we french kissed, it all just makes me pity you a lot.
You’re basically not a man to me or your Goldy. You have no car, no good job, no property, and for right now no ability to move beyond your own paralysis. I and she and others like us have to think about papers.
Ne-yet Prosto. Not simple. I need a revolver so I can restively and decisively shoot myself in the head like a man! Or turn it on her fat ugly Patron. That will be enough. I should have died with my friends in Afrin.
Do you even possess the understanding to know what is on the table there? Do you even have the care? They were liberating the women, they were instituting democracy and they were planting trees. I feel like I briefly defended a utopia, only to be cast out.
Sent back here where I am less than a man. Less than a criminal!
Prosto! (Simple) Go back to the beginning of the narrative and explain to me your motivation!
Tell me how your valiant and slightly suicidal mission began and the connection between your ideas on free life versus a meaningful life in motion. Be, fucking linear! Tell the tale from beginning to end instead of dancing around like a crazy person.
Tovarish Maria, I would like a dance from you first. I will pay the full amount in green dollars.
Your money Tovarish, they say is no good here. You can’t pay for a bullet or a dance. You can’t pay in Rubles, Dollars, or the now faceless Dinars.
You can buy time with or without sympathy.
Sympathies with the resistance?
Sympathy with an American Mayakovsky, and those who enjoy his performances. Shamelessly flailing, shamelessly throwing himself in front of armies and trains, over what?
You do in fact know what!
You know I don’t partake in the lapland for free. Don’t you have a forest wife in Nizhny Novgorod as well as a son somewhere? It will cost you nine hundred dollars to degrade yourself and me tonight. That is actually 64,800 Rubles an hour. Supply and demand. I don’t think you even have enough for a bullet. Certainly not enough to buy the only thing you really want.
I don’t have 100 Rubles to my name.
Then you get what you pay for! Which are nothingly nothings.
What is my story worth?
It’s worth less than a lap dance.
I need her, you know.
Oh that we all know that story.
“It doesn’t take a weather man or woman to know which way the winds blow.” Old American saying?
I don’t follow your pretty little allegory.
Old Russian saying, “I want to dance on your face until your mask falls off.”
That one I understood, perfectly.
As if I was making reports in Russian, or Turkish.
“He has just returned from Syria. The duration of the self-deployment was around nine months were we to include Cuba and Russia and also Iraq, Turkey, and Egypt. He is haunted. And despondent, a veteran of the People’s Protection Units; called the Y.P.G, you pronounce the G as ‘gay’. He has been without any doubt ideologically indoctrinated by the Kurdistan Workers Party and given some basic military training. Brainwashing. He is to be watched if necessary: eliminated.”
Well I guess you didn’t die in the war.
Well I guess I didn’t die in the war.
There was a lot of shame in that. I was mysteriously back in New York, trapped and totally useless. All my best efforts were forgotten and amounted to less than one nothing.
Stop talking and thinking only about yourself for a minute, blat… Tell me about your murdered Comrade Anya Campbell. Tell me about your soon-to-be-dead Kurdish friends. Confirm a little rumor I heard?
Stop talking and thinking only about yourself for a minute, blat..now I heard a rumor. It’s a, how do you say, doozy, of a rumor.
I heard that the same people that did 9.11 basically created the Islamic State from scratch.
Enter the Gangster Medved, Sebastian and Medved bearhug embrace.
Loose hips sink ships! Say no more serious things to this chesty one, my one old friend! Maria, call up some of your friends! This man needs a serious distraction.
But Sebastian Adonaev, being the Sebastian Adonaev, who I invest too much time and energy in; hopes to fully convolute the narrative. Blur apart the story of war and Islamic militancy and revolutionary fervor with busty sexcapades, pornographic poems, and perhaps some borrowed prophesy and Haitians. Chornay dancing about the room waving their flags in the air!
A simple patriotic task.
One night at the tavern, about one week after Sebastian arrived home. I was sure he was being followed. Shortly after our reunion, he was taken.
Shall I call them “American secret police?”
His voyage, quest perhaps, which began in Cuba, then to Russia, then Iraq, Turkey, Iraq, Turkey, Iraq, and then finally Syria, then out via Baghdad and Cairo. The detention lasted 80 days. All were behind him for now. He tries to tell me about his time in Kurdistan. In the end, the sad conversation always goes back to Ms. Daria.
What news do you have about Daria?
Listen, man, not again. She’s all cleaned up. Singing on Broad Street. Has a nice place in Midtown.
She wrote to me…
…every single day of the war?
They have apps that can do that now. Robots can also write to you every single day too. You don’t even need to pay them, or sponsor their citizenship.
She loves me. And I love her. And the rest of the details can get figured out. For nine months she urged me to stay alive and come home. I need to find her.
You can’t even consider supporting Daria, look at the state you’re in.
Even if you were rolling in it, why would you support a woman and her son, who isn’t your son, to stay here? Out of made-up imagined duty to act? A perverse Russian American lovesickness?
The kind that sent you to Syria in the first place. You can’t even be your own damn Patron. She’s taken anyway, man. Someone else has been paying her rent, credit cards, and keeping her papers in order.
Sergei? Dmitry? The Chubby Brahman? Corporate Robert Bruce?
What does it matter? Other people’s property now. Other people’s problems.
I need to see her tonight.
Impossible. She’s a kept woman. Kept a lot closer now.
Well, I have her tower address. Maybe leaning towards possibly, possible.
Leave her alone. If you know what’s good for her. Also for yourself.
I need to do this. She wrote to me every day during the war.
Nope. You do not! In a month, or less, you’ll have another woman. Or girl if you want. In the meantime is Daria even talking to you?
No, she is not. She cut the letters off a couple of weeks ago.
Prosto, that’s it. You too were an okay team once. You supported each other, in a very strange way. But really, that Suka is a curse.
She’s only with whoever she is with for some money and the green card.
And you actually want a paperwork marriage and a world of work?! You’re not stupid Sebastian, but your head is not on the right way again. Go slap yourself in the bathroom. Go jump on the shot girl for a ride.
You have less than 100 Rubles. Two whole fucking American dollars.
You cannot afford a woman like Daria, I will just come out and say that. You do not have enough shiny gold things.
Not yet. What do you plan to do when this is all over?
It’s never going to be over.