As I play this guitar, I hear maama’s words:
I can’t go with you, I will only burden you, I am dying.
Go, I can’t have them take you as they took your father from us. My heart goes with you.
As I play, I recollect, looking back, till my neck ached, I couldn’t stop looking at maama.
As I play this guitar, I embrace the harsh realities I encountered,
and mourn the lost opportunity of being a child, for my journey gulped my childhood.
As I play, in these moments I go to that place where I can be the child that I am.
As I play this guitar, in these moments I regurgitate and make peace with the memories of lost children, of parents letting go of the hands of their children, choosing to die so they could live.
As I play this guitar, I engrave them on my heart, I must keep them all alive and with me. I play for them and hope my music calms their journeying souls and gives them rest.
As I play this guitar, in these moments, I am liberated from the fetters of my arduous journey, from the losses witnessed, and the cruelty experienced.
As I play, I filter through it all, clutching like my life depends on it:
things positive— survival,
things positive— resilience,
things positive— love.
These are the only good my young mind can glean from such journeys.
As I play this guitar, in this country where I hardly feel at home, I go home.
Home is where maama and papa lay.
In these moments, in the sounds of this music I choose to live, for in it,
my family is with me.