Photo by Fernanda Sousa
“What would I require for survival, except a cup, a dish, a blanket? Free then of all encumbrance, all distraction, I might be able at last to confront myself without shock or shrinking. For is this not what I am after, the pure conjunction, the union of self with sundered self? I am weary of division, of being always torn. I shut my eyes and in a sort of rapture see myself stepping backward slowly into the cloven shell, and the two halves of it, still moist with glair, closing around me…” John Banville, in Eclipse.
This quote beautifully explains my search for ways to reconcile the multiple social identities that make up who I am.
How does an Azorean-born boy, who has lived most of his life in Toronto, embrace equally the two languages and cultures that he uses to express his Self; at times in Portuguese, but mostly in English, and be at home in both?
I have taken up writing late in life primarily as a way to explore who I am as a Torontonian and an Azorean, forever facing the curse of “saudade” that haunts the immigrant Portuguese imagination.
My writing is an attempt to understand and come to terms with both the loss and the gain of what it means to be someone who has been touched by diaspora.
Your comments above take me back to an evening long ago in Lagos. We were gathered there for a wonderful dinner in that beautiful restaurant, a favourite of my dear sister. (She was well known by all the staff there, as you could quickly tell.) As we chatted before our food arrived, the conversation seemed to open up this question….. from me to you. “So Emanuel, where is your home?” You stopped mid-sentence, looked at me seriously and answered, ” I will have to think about that.” Then a silence descended. I was shaken as I realized I had touched a deep and painful place in you.
I send my best wishes for much continued success in your writing. May you find that place of total peace and integration where you can say, “This is who I am.”