Book Reviews

Genocide Review – The Last Girl


Do we really live in a modern world? Do we have governments elected by the people? Do we have trained armies protecting our borders? Are we truly free to follow any religion or God of our choice? What is the meaning of being civilised? If its not happening to me, do I care? Why can’t terrorism be rooted out? Is ISIS real? How can ISIS be allowed to exist? Are all armed forces put together not capable of defending civilians against ISIS? ….. I can go on. All these and more questions swam in my head as I read Nadia Murad’s life story. I started reading the book on Tuesday night and couldn’t sleep. Woke up early yesterday and completed reading the book by the afternoon. A young girl’s misery is not gripping, its heart rending.

Every page made me wonder if this is not a historical account of something barbaric invaders did a 1000 years back? We do live in the 21st century – where nations have boundaries and “supposedly” governments that take care of its citizens and most countries in the world are “free”. In most parts of the world, no one needs to fear for midnight attacks by barbarians …but barbarism continues and with more modern weapons and vehicles much faster than horses. I shouldn’t have been shocked because Indian soldiers have been attacked by Pakistani cowards when they were sleeping at Uri during peacetime and more recently the Pulwama CRPF convoy being attacked by terrorists coming from across the border. I was still shocked as I read about the Kurdish Peshmerga (military) just leaving the village of Kocho and the city of Sinjar to fend for themselves when ISIS militants attacked. Wonder what oath they took as they got commissioned – to only save followers of their religion?

I did not know about Yazidism till I read this book, a few excerpts explain it succinctly – “Yazidism is an ancient monotheistic religion, spread orally by holy men entrusted with our stories. Although it has elements in common with the many religions of the Middle East, from Mithraism and Zoroastrianism to Islam and Judaism, it is truly unique and can be difficult even for the holy men who memorize our stories to explain. I think of my religion as being an ancient tree with thousands of rings, each telling a story in the long history of Yazidis. Many of those stories, sadly, are tragedies.”

“People say that Yazidism isn’t a “real” religion because we have no official book like the Bible or the Koran. Because some of us don’t shower on Wednesdays—the day that Tawusi Melek first came to earth, and our day of rest and prayer—they say we are dirty. Because we pray toward the sun, we are called pagans.”

“Our belief in reincarnation, which helps us cope with death and keep our community together, is rejected by Muslims because none of the Abrahamic faiths believe in it.”

“Our faith is in our actions. We welcome strangers into our homes, give money and food to those who have none, and sit with the body of a loved one before burial. Even being a good student, or kind to your spouse, is an act equal to prayer. Things that keep us alive and allow poor people to help others, like simple bread, are holy.”

A few years back we met a young Muslim man in a shop in Hyderabad and got talking… halfway through the conversation he asked us “what is your holy book?, like the Koran, do you have a holy book?”. I don’t know what my answer was because I was truly shocked into mumbling something about Hinduism. This is a man who has grown up in India, which has people of all religions and is the land of Hinduism. While this young man is a Muslim, his ancestors were most certainly Hindu and I still believe that all Indians learn about Hinduism a little as they grow up as it is the culture of the land. His question basically means he never went to a school that had children from all religions, ethnicities and regions. I studied with kids who spoke different languages, followed different religions and came from different states of India. I know a little about all the religions in India. I was reminded of this interaction again when I read the statement in Nadia’s book about Yazidism not being a real religion because they have no official book !! Extremism grows with narrow perspectives and religious schools don’t help the cause. They fan extremism.

The world today is intolerant of “differences”. We want everyone to read off the same song sheet and eat off the same plate … it ain’t happening.

Indian women who pontificate on social media about “jauhar” need to read the following excerpts, over and over again.

“Rape has been used throughout history as a weapon of war. I never thought I would have something in common with women in Rwanda—before all this, I didn’t know that a country called Rwanda existed—and now I am linked to them in the worst possible way, as a victim of a war crime that is so hard to talk about that no one in the world was prosecuted for committing it until just sixteen years before ISIS came to Sinjar.”

“Being dead was better than being sold like merchandise and raped until our bodies were in shreds.”

“At some point, there was rape and nothing else. This becomes your normal day. You don’t know who is going to open the door next to attack you, just that it will happen….”

I am deeply moved by Nadia’s book. I am inspired too because of this particular excerpt where she refers to the Muslim family that helped her escape –

“I don’t know why he was good and so many others in Mosul were so terrible. I think that if you are a good person, deep down, then you can be born and raised in Islamic State headquarters and still be good, just like you can be forced to convert to a religion you don’t believe in and still be a Yazidi. It’s inside you.”

Where did Nadia find the strength to go on? She is my hero. I will make attempts to meet her because so many of us just give up at the first hurdle but she went through hell and survived to tell the tale. She still has an open mind and a forgiving heart …most importantly, the fighting spirit to rise above adversity.

Some more excerpts that touched me –

“I think there was a reason God helped me escape, and a reason I met the activists with Yazda, and I don’t take my freedom for granted.”

“World leaders and particularly Muslim religious leaders need to stand up and protect the oppressed.”

and the best last line …”More than anything else, I said, I want to be the last girl in the world with a story like mine.”

Am glad Nadia won the Nobel peace prize and that she is actively helping Yazidis and other minorities.

BUT I want to leave you with the following article which clearly brings out the reason why terrorism flourishes – idiotic politicians and a spineless UN. I saw my ISIS captor and rapist in Canada

Do read the book and teach your children about HUMANITY not just your religion !!

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