9. Homeland

A greasy-haired, inarticulate man shouted at his mobile phone, which relayed him to a rally of supporters. He acted as if already beyond reproof. He said nothing innovative. He shouted how he and his supporters love their country above all others. He invoked God. The words he chose were limited, inflammatory and aggressive. We’re the best, we’ll get what we deserve. Those who don’t agree can leave. Our opponents will rot in jail.  There will be a cleansing never seen. Brazil’s new leader. 

He didn’t say ‘country’ or ‘nation,’ but ‘pátria.’ Homeland – motherland, maybe. We’d avoid fatherland, surely?  He didn’t.  Said differently, ‘pátria’ could pass unobtrusively or even express affection and belonging in place, language and culture.  I think of Natalie Merchant’s song: ‘Motherland, cradle me,” gently lilting with love and sadness for homeland. A homeland in crisis, perhaps abandoning its own. Don’t leave us, those who you should love and shelter. 

There was no love in this speech. It was clear many citizens would not be at home in the future country of his mind.  I felt immeasurably sad.

I refuse to hear his ‘pátria.’ I hear it rather in the rich tones of singer Maria Bethânia, the words of poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade, the voice of musician Vinícius de Moraes.

Sei que a minha patria é a luz, o sal e a água.’  ‘Brasil que eu amo…o ritmo do meu braço aventuroso, o gosto dos meus descansos, o balanço das minhas cantigas amores e danças…o meu jeito de ganhar dinheiro, de comer e de dormir.’*

I know my homeland is  light, salt, and water.’ Vinicius de Moraes in “Pátria Minha.”  ‘The Brazil I love… the rhythm of my adventurer’s heart, the flavour of resting, the balance of my songs, loves and dances, the way I earn my money, eat and sleep.” Carlos Drummond de Andrade in “O Poeta Come Amendoim.”  (translations my own.)

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