O vento : a song-poem

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(Guitar & percussion : Michel Ongaro ; lyrics & vocals : Arusha Topazzini; mixed by the one and only Jacktone Okore)

on a rain-tinged evening i wrote the following song-poem, thinking of the many times when i, a young child visiting family in Bombay, watched other children walking up and down the seafront by the Gateway of India.

they were about my age or older, some barely had any clothes on, their skin was coated in traffic and sea-air dust, their hair matted, and their eyes, faraway.  i was a child watching other children, and seeing no part of life-as-i-knew-it reflected back. i knew something was very wrong, but i was too young to understand it fully in my mind. i understood it in my heart and my child-eyes instead.

some years later, on a monsoon afternoon on another Indian seafront in Pondicherry, i sat watching the solemn waves, crying- i am not sure why. first an elephant walked past with his mahout: slow, deep, swinging steps, and sad beyond words to see this majestic animal captive. and then, a little girl. she too, had matted hair, dusty skin and worn clothes. her eyes sparkled. her smile was bigger than the monsoon afternoon, bigger than my adolescent sadness, bigger than the gratitude i felt well up beneath the tears. ‘why are you so sad?’, she asked.

time passed.

and so on a rain-tinged evening in Kenya, i wrote this song-poem in Portuguese. why did i choose a language i don’t know very well ? perhaps because it is the language of saudade. Kenyan guitarist Michel Ongaro welcomed me into his home in Nairobi, and by the time we finished our first cup of tea he agreed to help me record this song. Michel was born blind, and knew what it was like growing up in a world that could be very hostile at times.

this song-poem is dedicated to the many children growing up on the streets whose paths crossed mine, and whose lives i crossed, ever so briefly.

gratefully, arusha.


 

O VENTO. THE WIND : A SONG-POEM.

the wind that sings on the seafront tells a sad story,
a young boy who lives without loving
and does not know what it means to exist.

he was born, crying, from a woman 
of amber eyes and radiant smile,
so very poor and so very happy
to watch those newborn eyes discover the world,
those blackblack eyes.

but how the wind sings, yes, how the wind sings:
the wind sweeps away all the pains and all the joys;
the wind sighs, and exhales deep into the air all the lost hopes.

one day his mother fell into the arms of the sea,
or perhaps it was the arms of the sky, or the earth;
he does not know, he cannot remember this darkened tale.

he grew up alone in the big city,
hugged at night by the flickering lights;
and every time the sun rose,
he was still too small to comprehend
life’s absence and life’s indifference.

but how the wind sings, yes, how the wind sings:
the wind sweeps away all the pains and all the joys;
the wind sighs, and exhales deep into the air all the lost hopes.

time passed and he learned to become a soul of stone and a being of air,
he knows how not to trust, and joy is sparse,
he has no one to love, he has no love to give.

but at night, his soul turns to sand,
ebbed away by waves of amber dreams
woven from the songs of a mother he never forgot,

a mother-turned-melody,
and in her eyes, a timeless smile,
in her eyes, a timeless smile
in her eyes a timeless smile.


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o vento que canta na beira mar, fala da uma storia bem triste;

de um rapaz que vive sim amar e que nao sabe porque existe.

nasceu chorando de uma mulher dos olhos dorados, do sorriso branco;
pobre do dineiro mas alegra de ver essos olhos descubriendo ao mundo,
essos olhos pretos descubriendo ao mundo.

mas o vento canta, ay o vento leva toas as penas, as alegrias
o vento suspira, o vento leva pelo ar….as esperancas perdidas…

um dia a mai deixou nos brazos do mar o tal vez nos brazos do ceu, da terra;
ele nao sabe, nao pode bem lembrar essa storia tao escura…

cresceu sozinho na grande cidade, a noite abrazado das luces centelhas
al amahecer da pequena idade, pra entender essas ausencias,
pra entender essas indiferencias…

mas o vento canta, ay o vento leva toas as penas, as alegrias
o vento suspira, o vento leva pelo ar….as esperancas perdidas…

o tempo pasou aprendiu a ser um alma da pedra um ser de ar
uma vida sim confianza da pouco plazer,
ele nao tem a quem amar
ele nao tem amor pra dar

mas a noite seu alma torna-se areia
levada pras ondas de sonhos dorados das musicas duma mai sempre lembrada
nos seus olhos um sorrisa eterna…

 


thank you, Unsplash, Eric Patnoudes and Alexandre Chambon for the photographs.
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