Why a refugee and an immigrant won’t sing Michael Bublé’s ‘Home’

Bethelhem T.

It was Sunday morning, but the NYC Subway was as busy and noisy as ever. I was rushing like the Flash to change trains when I missed my connecting train by a split of a second.  And then, I realized I wasn’t the Flash after all; but more like the Barry Allen before the lightning.

Then I heard this song:

“I gotta go home….

Let me go home.

It’ll all be all right

I’ll be home tonight

I’m coming back home…”

A guy with the bluest eyes ever and five o’clock shadow was singing his guts out at the train platform.  His blond man-bun was coiled with a red bandana. His hands were performing magic with the guitar he decorated in different stickers of Celtic crosses. His guitar case open on the floor with a sign that tell his story in a nutshell; that he is a struggling artist who is trying to make a living until he is discovered.

I see why he is a ‘struggling artist’. Because he is freaking insensitive.  He lacks a sixth sense and if he continues on this path he soon would be just a ‘struggling human being’. An art can’t exist without sensitivity.

Many commuters, mainly tourists, gathered around him taking pictures, Snap-Chatting and giving him money. I rolled my eyes in annoyance.

I mean who sings rendition of ‘Home’ by Michael Bublé on a Sunday morning?  That’s beyond rudeness. It’s insensitive.  I headed to the other end of the platform away from him, his voice and that terrible song.

There are so many things wrong with that song from a refugee’s and an immigrant’s point of view.  It’s utopic with streaks of hypocrisy. The lyrics don’t make any sense at all, especially for someone who was forced to immigrate and can’t go home even if he or she wishes, unlike the singer.

I don’t think any  refugee or immigrant would ever sing Michael Bublé’s song or even like it; (unless of course you don’t understand the lyrics and like to jam to its tunes) I don’t think the song was meant to include any member of this section of the community.  For me it just highlights the scope of the trial we face in life’s lot; between those who can relate to the song and those who can’t relate to it.

It reminds me of my grandmother’s famous saying, “Abo zelewos, n’abo zeyblu kebki ybeki.” Roughly translated as the one who has a father cries to make the fatherless cry even more. Listen, for the other half, it is between the rock and the hard place– we are sandwiched between two evils – we can’t go back ‘tonight’ as the singer points it out at the last part of his song.

Clearly the singer and those who can relate to his song don’t know what missing home means. It’s when a son can’t bury his father because home has turned into a death trap. It’s when you let go of a hand  for otherwise a chainsaw would have done that for you.  It’s when you cross the desert, ford the ocean and set off into the jungle to escape from home. It’s when a father is longing for his toddler’s voice and kiss but can’t hold his child because home has become a hell on earth. It is staring at the pictures of your beloved ones for hours as you say your prayers pleading with God to keep them safe and to reunite you once again, to sleep holding their picture only to wake up drenched in sweat because of a nightmare, a fiancé postponing yet his wedding day because he can’t go back home, a sister’s sorrow because she can’t attend her young brother’s wedding day for she knows going home isn’t really an option….

How could a person who isn’t chasing a dream but is chased by oppression, persecution, hunger, death and torture sing this song? In my unsolicited opinion, only a chaser can sing this song, not the chased.

I do burst into tears when I hear this song, not because I am moved but at the irony of the disparity of the reasons that drives us out from our home;  for the chaser and the chased. The overwhelming sense of hiraeth we are engulfed with but has no immediate remedy…..

I put on my earphones and turned the volume to the max, blocking the song and the world around me. Yes, I want to go home. Let me go home, not because I have had my run nor that I am done, but because the evil back home is done and the waves have subdued their rage. Let me go back home to talk about the hypocrisy I saw and heard at the NYC train station, to lampoon Michael Bublé and his green lyrics that needs to mature.

And one more thing if I may, we wouldn’t send the letters home not because they aren’t just enough as the song goes but because we really can’t. Home might not be in the same address we left it before; and our beloved ones might not be there at all to receive or read the letter. So do you see why we can’t sing along?

“And I know just why you could not come along with me, but this was not your dream,” continues the singer to my dismay.

In our case, dream has nothing to do with it. If only the world would know- you can’t possibly imagine or think why our loved ones can’t come along with us. If only you knew, it would have changed your life forever and your dead lyrics would spring to life.

The other half often has a misguided notion of refugees and immigrants that totally disregard the reason why we leave home in the first place…. We are being chased; we aren’t chasing anyone or anything in particular. We heard and obeyed the voice of survival that screamed ‘Run!’ ‘Escape!’ ‘Live!’

So we can’t go back home. At least, not tonight.


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