A bit of earth

9 Apr

We got back into town late last night, after spending several days at my husband’s family farm. It is a four-hour journey, and the traffic is scary, but we braved the nighttime onslaught of passenger buses, over-loaded trucks and daredevil drivers just to sleep in our own bed.

The land has been in my husband’s family for nearly two centuries. I am glad to know a place that my husband holds so dear. There is a sense of belonging in having deep roots, in being able to say ‘this was my father’s land and his father’s before him’ and it seems natural to feel a connection to the land itself.

The history of one’s family, one’s ancestors is there, in the dust whirling in the wind, in the wheat that whispers in the sun, in the juicy red of a 30-year-old fifty-five-year-old bougainvillea bush. I now know the color of an ear of wheat, I have felt the brush of its bushy tip against my skin.

The work of the land is the hardest work of all. There is nothing romantic about sweat, about hard physical labor and never-ending toil, but few things could be more beautiful, even if, like my husband’s family, you have a hundred workers to help you do it.

There are people whose families have worked for them and lived on their land for generations. I have met a lady who cared for my husband when he was a baby, whose daughter now cares for his nephew, and last summer, the village barber who gave him his first shave came to the house to give him a haircut. Such permanence and loyalty give you a sense of who you really are, and learning their value makes you a better human being, more willing to be contented despite the vicissitudes of life.

I have been a foreigner for most of my life. I was one month short of turning 17 when I arrived in the United States to stay, and as an impassioned, earnest teenager, I refused to call our apartment ‘home’ for months. I would say, ‘let’s go back to the apartment’. My father offered to send me back and let me live with relatives, but I didn’t want that either. I can’t remember when I let my guard down, but eventually the United States became my home. I didn’t know then that one day I, like thousands of other immigrants, would come to feel unwanted.

I have thought many times that because I had left my home, ‘home’ could be anywhere. And I still think the same, because I believe home is something that you build, like a nest, with bits of this and bits of that, and really, all you need is those you love. But there is also something to be said for familiarity, for heritage, for knowing where your origins are and what they signify.

I have more to say about this, and about my own immigrant experience, but I will leave that for another post.

I will now introduce you to Brown Horse, our daughter’s mare:

She is pregnant and due in early autumn. I am looking forward to the birth, for my daughter, who is horse-mad, and for myself. We plan to be there, and I am sure it will be an extraordinarily moving event.


4 Responses to “A bit of earth”

  1. Tai April 13, 2007 at 6:39 am #

    Being somewhat horse-mad myself, I look forward to Brown Horse’s foaling. Your description of your husband’s farm and its history is so evocative. I could almost feel that ear of wheat tickling my skin.

  2. Marlon April 24, 2007 at 6:29 am #

    I love the pictures. Very well done; especially the field worker silhouette. It’s a classic.


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