Wednesday 15 May 2013

Helwa ya baladi

Sitting on the window sill, looking out the window, la grisaille, la pluie battante, le froid, écoutant Dalida chanter:

املي دائما كان يا بلدي
اني ارجع ليك يا بلدي
و افضل دائما جنبك على طول
My hope has always been, my country
That I come back to you, my country
And always remain by your side, forever

et les larmes coulent d'elles-mêmes. The tears roll down, I can't help it.

Spring (or lack of) in Northern England

I feel silly. I feel a fool. I left of my own accord, I was eager to discover what lay out there, my destiny.

What's stopping me from going back? Nothing and everything. What's drawing me back? What's tying me to my country? Everything, primarily my parents; they spent their lives raising us. They are now left by themselves, facing old age without the daily joys that grandchildren bring. Guilt.

I am nostalgic, I guess as much as any 30 or 40 something parent. I long to replicate what made me happy when I was a child myself. The difference is my childhood memories are inextricably linked to the sun, the heat, the noise, the smells, the conversations, the white veils, the music. And none of it is here, neither in place nor in time. Double whammy.

When will I be content with my destiny, that of an exile? Probably never, according to Dalida, Enrico Macias, and Dahmane El HarrachiIt is a slight consolation that my feelings have been sung and shared for such a long time.

The thing is because I know where I come from, I feel I know who I am. What about my children? A question I did not ask myself when I fell for a foreigner in a third country, then moved to a fourth.

Now, I am acutely aware of these identity questions. My children are not; they are busy being children. Will they have trouble later figuring out who they are, not sure where they came from?

Whether I like it or not, the identity question is catching up with me, and will certainly creep up on the girls.

In the meantime, BK3 keeps pressing replay on Salma Ya Salama. A song by an Italian by blood, Egyptian by birth and French by adoption. Still Egypt, the place of her childhood, remained her bilad, to the end. I wonder how much of her troubles in adult life were linked to any feelings of being cut from a tree, uprooted...


  1. You are going to make me tear up... I know those days... the weather has a thing of making us feel like c***.

    1. Désolée Annabelle, je sais qu'on est beaucoup à passer par des moments pareils. Le temps et la musique font une sacrée combinaison parfois...

    2. P.S. Stupid Germany will not let me watch any of your links (apart from Dahme El Harrachi)

    3. How weird... Just type helwa ya baladi by dalida in youtube, not sure if there is a french version.
      I get annoyed with unavailbalility of BBC programmes abroad!

  2. But what a gift you and Jan are giving your children--familiarity, even intimacy, with so many languages and cultures. But your post makes it clear how hard it is to do so when you're so far from your first home. Bon courage.

    1. Merci Sarah. I hope our love will always be the constant, wherever we are...

  3. My father listened to Dalida and I greatly enjoy her strong, beautiful voice. The wather is bad today, and it's good to listen to something comforting when your mood is bad.Thank you for this beautiful blog post!


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