“When people are young, they have big dreams. They get smaller as you get older,” says Dilocan.
Born in Zedia, a village in Hasakah, he learned to play the saz, then the oud, piano, and violin in ninth grade. He hoped to one day be a famous musician. Today he performs at weddings and restaurants, and teaches music in the refugee camp that has been his home since 2013. “My dream didn’t come true,” he says.
Dilocan believes people should leave something behind in life by which to be remembered. In the 1980s, he wrote and performed “Borders,” (Sinoor) which became popular beyond Syria. Though people in Hasakah knew the song was his, he claims he never received international recognition because his name wasn’t in the original music video.
The song became even more significant to him in 2013 when he crossed over the border into Turkey to visit his cousin and niece. He wasn’t allowed back into Syria. Dilocan then tried to enter the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, but security on the Turkish side threatened to throw him into one of their refugee camps. For three days, he wandered the border alone, thinking about his three children in Syria, until he found Kurdish truck drivers who agreed to smuggle him out of Turkey and into Iraq. His family met him two months later in a refugee camp in Kurdistan.
“Borders” describes Greater Kurdistan: its people scattered across Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, separated by country lines and politics.