Songs for Hisao


My mother’s sister was caught up in the Balkan war of the 90’s and was displaced several times after her home and village were bombed. She was of an age and along with her disabled son, found herself up in Sarajevo during the siege, staying with another son of hers who was a primary school head there.

We lost contact for a long time – it seemed everywhere she went was being shelled to hell, yet she lived through it all (as well as WW2). She knew real poverty and the toughness of self-sufficiency – nothing got to her.

Eventually we spoke on the phone. I couldn’t really talk for crying. She said ‘Don’t be upset. Sing and dance for me. I can’t do it right now. If I was you, that is what I would be doing’.

Her attitude surprised me. I thought she’d be beside herself with grief and pain. But no, like my mother, it was a message… get up, you’ll do it again, so get up.

Was it simply, don’t let the b*stards get you down?

Or something deeper. Be my voice. Sing for me. So they can hear me. I aint going down yet. Dance til they feel the thunder of resistance beneath your feet – for your feet are mine and your voice is mine too.




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