Exile Music

Jamppa uusi - webb

Exile Music

It was a decision by both of us
that I would come and work
to this side of Bothnia
I did not go on an adventure
I do not know what to expect here
still I persists like a man
And keep spirits up
even if the heart would be filled with ice
Now it’s too long way home for me
That I realized recently when
I looked at a foreign shore again
Now it’s too long way home for me…
(translation from Finnish)

Too long way home (Liian pitkä matka kotiin) sung by Jamppa Tuominen, was popular among Finnish immigrants in Sweden during the 1970’s and for me it describes the sorrow of being in a foreign country. Even though Finland is very close to Sweden and even though most of these immigrants migrated voluntarily to find work on the other side of the Gulf of Bothnia, the way home seemed too long for many of them. In a study of Marjaliisa Lukkarinen Kvist, only two of the respondents moved to Sweden with the intention to remain and many dreamed of returning to Finland for decades, yet they stayed (Tiden har haft sin gång: hem och tillhörighet bland sverigefinnar i Mälardalen, Linköpings universitet, 2006, p. 195).

To be in exile does not always mean to be on the other side of the world of political reasons, but it can be something as simple as being unable to return to the other side of the gulf because it would mean loss of face in front of the relatives. No matter how easy it would be to return practically and no matter how close the home country is, the feeling of loss and homelessness can be severe, in my opinion. Being in exile is not a label awarded only to people who have been forced to escape to another country because of persecution, but it is a feeling of loss that cannot be replaced by anything in the new country, no matter what the reason was for the migration, as I see it. According to Edwards exile means separation and its emotional expression is loss that may manifest as sadness or nostalgia (‘Exile, Self, and Society’ in Exile in literature ed. María-Inés Lagos Pope, 1988, p. 15). I wanted to portray this sadness in The Escape to Myanmar, and Too long way home is one of the songs I have listened to in order to be able to describe this feeling while writing the story.

Another song that describes the longing for home when being in exile is the Myanmar singer Htoo Eain Thin’s Kyae Thwe Sone Te Nya. Many exiles from Myanmar/Burma likes Htoo Eain Thin’s songs about longing for a home far away.

I have also listened to I want to know what love is by Rappers Against Racism, since it describes another aspect of being in exile, namely the experience of racism: We people gotta stop all the hate and the shame that we’re bringin’. We’re all the same, we all feel pain some uf us don’t even know what we remain. This is the life, the life that we’re livin’. With a little respect, we should all be givin’.

Another song that has given me inspiration to write this story is Ehkä ensi elämässä (Maybe in next life) by the Finnish singer Johanna Kurkela. It is a song about parting in sorrow with a wish to meet in a next life, in another situation:

Maybe In Next Life

Today you avoid my gaze
you’re unreachable
you only change the topic
you’re not feeling well
something’s troubling you now
just say it bravely
I want to know your innermost

Maybe in next life
we two are here again
totally silent, just like this
close to each other
maybe in next life
in a moment so passing
we can be again like this
in each other’s arms

Don’t care about the tears
be like you don’t notice
I just can’t yet
let go of us completely
you stay in my mind
even though you leave now
maybe someday everything could be differently
Translation from Finnish

This song has helped me to understand one of the greatest sorrows of exile, the sorrow of parting, and about the wish to meet again one day. Several of the charachters in The Escape to Myanmar feel this sorrow and listening to the song has made it easier to write about it.

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