It may not happen to everyone, but it happened to me, and one or two others that I know, and so I am writing this, to tell you, that when and if it should happen to you, “Do not worry mate, you are normal, and what you are going through is normal, and like most things (most things) this too will pass. And should it not… then I do not know what you will do, but usually it passes, and then you can go on.”
It happened around the two year mark. The time that every body said we should wait before we go back… go back ‘home’ for a visit. My mum’s home will always be one of the places I call home, even if I have not lived there for the best part of twenty years. Just like my in-laws’ home will also be a place I call home, and likewise the hotel room where we stayed for two weeks in Brisbane became home. Because for a while, that is were the people of my heart gathered, and that is what made it home.
But it happened, and it caught me off guard. I had this hankering for music. Music with a familiar beat, with familiar voices. I craved the music of Johnny Clegg and Savuka. After that it was Laurika Rauch, and Reana Nel, and Andriëtte who ever, and a bit of Dozi and whole lot of Theuns Jordaan en equal measures of Chris Chameleon. And the music opened the floodgates of tears that has been held tightly under guard for such a long time. Then Toto sang about the plains of Africa and the longing for another south land gripped me so tight that I sat in front of my computer screen and the tears came without being beckoned forth.
And then you ask yourself the question, “What now? Is this it? Is this the way it will be forever? Without my loved ones an hour or three away from me? Is this the road that I have chosen to travel, and am I happy with this road? Do I really, really want to be here?”
You know the answer before you ask it. You know that the answer is, “Yes.” You know there is no house waiting that side, you know that you have sold everything and packed it into the container, or packed your life into the suitcases that you picked up on the conveyor belt at the airport. You know all of this, but still you ask the question, and you feel guilty for feeling this way, because is this not the lucky country? This country where you are the cook and bottle washer and the toilet scrubber, and the gardener and the cleaner and oh! do not forget about your normal day job either!
Dearest migrant to the Great South Land,
you may just experience these feelings, and you do not have to feel guilty for having them. I love being in Australia, as you would have gathered by now, from my previous letters to you. In this country I have become a different person. I have discovered things about myself that I never thought possible. I have discovered things about my countrymen that make me proud to be who I am.
But, I am still human. I still am a migrant with a history that includes another South Land. A land with the big five, the most amazing sunsets, and diverse people who touched my heart in so many ways.
And, my mother’s house is still there, and that will forever be my home as well, because a bit of my heart is there.
So, when you find yourself crying when you hear Kurt Darren’s ‘O, ek wil huis toe gaan, na mamma toe’ (is it his song? I just know that someone once really badmouthed me and said that that must be one of his songs that I sing while here in Aussieland, while I am running away – still do not know what I am supposed to be running away from – but the tidbit of info stuck), or you are out for a jog and Nadine belts out, “Maak jy jou oë toe as ons soeeeeen….?” and you do not know whether your eyes are burning from sweat or from tears, know that is it normal, and you do not have to feel guilty, and it is not that you are ungrateful for the opportunities that you came to experience here, it is just that you miss something…
Cry mate, cry as much as you want to. Walk down your memory lane, reminisce in the past, and smile, because you have made it this far. And if you could do that, you can do anything.
Migration is not for sissies. It takes a special kind of person, with a special type of resolve. It takes a person who says, ‘Come hell or high water, I will make this thing work.’
You’ll be all right mate, you are not alone.