Thursday, September 10, 2009

Closer to Home

I just came across one of the most beautiful songs ever written for those who are away of their homeland. It is titled "Mi Tierra" which can be translated as "My Land". However, the English counterpart lacks the national connotation of "tierra", which not only means a mere piece of land, but can also symbolize the Fatherland.

Just a bit of background: "Mi Tierra" was released by the Cuban singer Gloria Estefan in 1993. As a Cuban exile living in the United States, Gloria Estefan and her family fled Cuba after the Revolution led by Fidel Castro and Ernesto "el Ché" Guevara in 1959. She has not been able to return to her native country since, and hence this song captures the essence of homesickness.

The video:

Now, to the lyrics:

In Spanish:

De mi tierra bella
De mi tierra santa
Oigo ese grito de los tambores
Y los timbales al cumbanchar

Y ese pregón que cantó un hermano
Que de su tierra vive lejano
Y que el recuerdo le hace llorar
Una canción que vive entonando
De su dolor, de su propio llanto
Y se le escucha penar

La tierra te duele
La tierra te da
En medio del alma
Cuando tu no estás
La tierra te empuja
De raíz y cal
La tierra suspira
Si no te ve más

La tierra donde naciste
No la puedes olvidar
Porque tiene tus raíces
Y lo que dejás atrás

Siguen los pregones,
la melancolía
Y cada noche junto a la luna
Sigue el guajiro entonando el son
Y cada calle que va a mi pueblo
Tiene un quejido, tiene un lamento
Tiene nostalgia como su voz
Esa canción que sigue entonando
Corre en la sangre, y sigue llegando
Con más fuerza al corazón

Tiene un quejido, tiene un lamento
Nunca la olvido
La llevo en mis sentimientos, ¡si señor!
Oigo ese grito, vive el recuerdo
Corre en mi sangre
La llevo por dentro, ¡cómo no!
Canto de mi tierra, bella y santa
Sufro ese dolor que hay en su alma
Aunque esté lejos yo la siento
Y un día regreso, ¡yo lo sé!

Which translates:

From my beautiful land
From my sacred land
I hear the resounding of the drums
And the 'timbales' while dancing

And the cry sung by a brother
Who lives far from his homeland
And who the memory makes him cry
A song that continues to sing
About his pain, and his own weeping
And you can hear him suffering

The homeland hurts you
The homeland hits you
in the middle of the soul
When you are away
The homeland pushes you
With roots and limestone
The homeland sighs
If it does not see you anymore!

The land in which you were born
You are unable to forget
Because it has your roots
And what you leave behind

The songs continue,
As well as the melancholy!
And every night by the moon
the peasant continues his song
And every street that goes to my village
Has a moan, has a lament
It has nostalgia as its voice
That song that continues
Runs in the blood, and it keeps on reaching
the heart with greater force!

It has a moan, it has a lament
I never forget it
I carry it in my feelings, yes Sir!
I hear that cry, the memory lives
It runs in my blood
I carry it inside of me, of course!
Song of my beloved and sacred land
I suffer the pain that exists in its soul
Even when I am far away, I can feel it
And one day I will return, that's for sure!

I like the song because is able to express nicely what it feels like being away from your home country for so long. I have been outside my country for three and a half years now. Don't get me wrong - I really love Australia and the warm welcome I received when reaching its shores, and the friends and surrogate families I have found in this beautiful place. However, the longing for the Fatherland keeps growing in me day by day, especially because I know that I will be home soon. It is like a 'positive feedback loop' - the closer the day of my return, the stronger the homesickness and the longing to re-embrace what I left.

El Salvador occupies a treasured place in my life in spite of all the sociopolitical struggles, the suffering, the pain and the weeping after years of tyrannies, corruption, wars, earthquakes, gang violence, etc. Back in El Salvador I would be ashamed of being a Salvadoran and my Amerindian heritage - while now I feel proud of it. Do you really have to leave your country to realise how much it means to you?

Why do I feel like this? I am not sure.

But the biggest irony is that in a year, when I'm back in my beloved El Salvador, I will be talking about the exact opposite - a reverse homesickness for my second country, a secret longing for my second nationality - Australia :). I will only be completely satisfied when I reach my real home, which is beyond this present world, and to that hope I live for :)

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