Diasporic Postcards: MOTHERLAND
I’ve been dreaming a lot about my parents since Ukraine was invaded. It was nightly at first, but it’s now less frequent. But, the other night, I woke up to the voice of my mother calling me. I don’t remember the context of the dream. I just know my mother was beckoning me in the same way she did when I was a child and it was time to come home.
I’ve never been to Ukraine and that was always a bone of contention with my parents, especially with my father. I had travelled the world, yet I’d never visited the Motherland. It’s not that I didn’t want to. But travel can have certain challenges when you’re an introverted empath whose interactions with people can be energetically depleting. I can come off as stand-offish. But when I’m among boisterous folks, especially if there’s big personalities or alcohol involved, I usually end up in a corner or some distant room cowering with high anxiety. And that’s how I pictured a trip to Ukraine, where I would have felt compelled to stay with relatives at risk of insulting them if I didn’t.
And then there’s the issue of not being able to eat the native food. I had a challenging enough time explaining my vegetarianism (now veganism), and grain and dairy sensitivities to my parents, let alone to people in a country with an even more limited understanding of my health concerns and ethical choices. How do you explain to a good Ukrainian that you don’t eat meat or fish or that eating a couple of perohy could land you in bed for days?
So, the closest I’ve come to Ukraine was when I was in Turkey, on the Black Sea. I remember staring longingly at the horizon, feeling a tugging at my heart. Someday, I kept thinking. Was that my mother calling for me in my dream the other night? Or was it the haunting cry of the Motherland?