Venga la esperanza (Hope, please come)

Inga and I

Tía Inga and I

I have a brother whom I’ve struggled to have a good, healthy, adult relationship with. The reasons are complicated but the kind of ordinary give and take of siblings has eluded us for most of our adult years. Every now and then though, a way has opened to cut through the disappointment, failed efforts and baggage that that have made it so much easier for each of us to take our own path and have little contact. At some of the bleakest, most difficult moments of my adult life, it is he who has given me new hope, a bit of sunshine in the dark.

A few weeks ago, the woman who helped raise me, Ligia, who was my nanny and who, night after night took turns with my mother, turning me over every three hours so I wouldn’t loose lung capacity in my full-length cast, this beautiful woman, Ligia, died. Today, I have received word that my Tía Inga, my mother’s sister, died last night. Her relationship with my mom was difficult as well. Especially since my dad moved up here, I have had very little contact. We weren’t close; nonetheless, I grieve her death. In a time when a great deal else is in flux, and disruption seems to be the only normal all around me, the loss of the mothers in my life is particularly desolating. Earlier, I sat in my small home office with the finality of Tía Inga’s death, the absolute horror of our President’s latest assault on basic human decency, and a bunch else at the end of a hard week, feeling like it all could drown me, when the insistent, persistent melody of a song began to play in my mind.

Sylvio Rodriguez’s music is described as “tender balladry” at the same time that he is a politically active Cuban who has always supported the Cuban Revolution. I’d never heard of him until soon after my mother’s death, another time of piercing grief, when my brother sent me a YouTube link to one of his pieces. The title of the piece is “Hope, please come”. The following are the lyrics in Spanish with a very rough translation. We are all certainly in need of hope these days, it seems to me. So I am beyond grateful for my brother’s love that finds a way to give me that gift of hope.

And I think again, how strange, and harsh, and beautiful life is.

Venga la esperanza

Dice que se empina y que no alcanza,
(She says she stands on her toes and still can’t reach)
que sólo ha llegado hasta el dolor. (That she’s only gotten as far as the pain)
Dice que ha perdido la buena esperanza (She says she’s lost all good hope)
y se refugia en la piedad de la ilusión. (and seeks refuge in the piety of illusions)

Sé de las entrañas de su queja (I know about the depths of her complaints)
porque padecí la decepción: (I too suffered deception)
fue una noche larga que el tiempo despeja,  (It was a long night that time has cleared away)
mientras suena en mi memoria esta canción: (while this song plays in my memory)

Venga la esperanza, (Hope, please come)
venga sola mí. (Come by yourself to me)
Lárguese la escarcha, (Let the frost be gone)
vuele el colibrí. (May the hummingbird fly)
Hínchese la vela, (Let the sail be filled)
ruja el motor, (Let the motor roar)
que sin esperanza (Because if we have no hope)
¿dónde va el amor? (Where is love to go?)

Cuando niño yo saque la cuenta  (When I was just a boy I figured out)
de mi edad por el año dos mil (How old I’d be around the year two thousand)
(el dos mil sonaba como puerta abierta (Two thousand sounded like a door flung open)
a maravillas que silbaba el porvenir). (To marvels whistled by the future)
Pero ahora que se acerca saco en cuenta (But now that it draws near, I figured out)
que de nuevo tengo que esperar, (That once again, I’ll have to wait)
que las maravillas vendrán algo lentas ( That marvels will arrive somewhat slow)
porque el mundo tiene aún muy corta edad. (Because the world is still so very young)

Venga la esperanza, (Hope, please come)
pase por aquí. (Come by here)
Venga de cuarenta, (Come if you are forty)
venga de dos mil. (Come if you are two thousand)
Venga la esperanza (Come hope)
de cualquier color: (Come in any color)
verde, roja o negra, (Green or red or black)
pero con amor. (But come with love)

2 thoughts on “Venga la esperanza (Hope, please come)

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