I was 11 years old when my family migrated from Finland to Australia. At the time I had very little understanding of the magnitude of what it really meant. I think I was more excited about going on a plane than anything else, because I had never flown before. Yet I was acutely aware how difficult the leaving was especially for my mum.
I remember holding on to my dad’s hand. It somehow gave me the feeling of security. It was almost like dad was my rock in my rapidly changing world. We all sat quietly on the plane, looking out the window, taking in the last few glances of our birth country. I can only imagine what my parents were thinking at that moment, the unanswered questions, the multitude of emotions, the responsibility that must have weighted heavily, the fatigue that would have been their companion. Yet to me they seemed so calm and peaceful.
As the plane took off and we reached the skies, something happened that each member of my family will remember forever. Jukka Kuoppamäki, a Finnish singer-songwriter, began singing Blue and White (sininen ja valkoinen) from the loudspeakers. For those of you who are not Finnish and don’t know the song, some of the words translated to English go something like this:
“As my birth country was left behind, I quietly thought to myself, What will I tell people about it, How do I answer people’s questions……… Then I finally knew the answer!
Blue is its sky, Blue the colour of its people’s eyes, Blue are the lakes… White is the snow, White are the summer’s long nights, White are the clouds…
Blue and white, Colours are of freedom”.
I think you would guess even without me telling you, but as I looked at my mum and my dad, sitting there on that plane carrying them away from their birth country, the only country they had ever lived in, towards a great unknown, a country they had never even visited, they both had tears in their eyes. Maybe that was the point, that even I, a 11 year old child, got a glimpse into the enormity of their decision.
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