A Sea Of Longing: A Gift To All Mothers

This moving rababa song which is performed by the Sudanese artist Mohammed Jubara, was, “Initially written by the poet and musician AlSir Osman AlTayeb in a form of a letter to his mother who lived in the North of Sudan, while he lived far away in Khartoum! When his friend Mohammed Jubara read the poetic letter, he composed a song and sang it for the writer, who became emotional, his tears flowed, and he broke to tears.” This story has achieved mythical proportions among the Sudanese.

The sentimental song became a hit the moment it was aired on Sudanese television in the early seventies, and every time it’s played, the aura of a new song still surrounds it. Even those who do not understand the lyrics, but only its topic, tear up remembering their mothers. The name of the song is Bahr AlMeweda and it is fit to be a universal expression of the love of mothers. The song also expresses the longing for one’s birthplace.

You need to imagine the distance that separated the writer who lived in Khartoum, from his mother who lived in the north of Sudan (at worst a one-day travel away), to understand the torment of being away from your birthplace and be separated from your mother, either through death or insurmountable distance.

We failed to find a translation of the song in the Internet, and that is disappointing given the thousands of Sudanese who should have presented a translation of this magnificent song to the world. Therefore, we took the initiative and Saleh Johar translated it. However, since the lyrics are written in a Sudanese/Shaagiya vernacular, there might be some errors; corrections are welcome.

A colleague remarked, “If this song doesn’t wet your eyes, your heart might be encased in a concrete shell!”  We challenged him to a bet trusting the sensitive readers of love their mothers and their country; we believe they are kindhearted.

We strongly suggest you read the lyrics before listening to the song.  Enjoy.

A Sea Of Longing[i]
[Translation by Saleh “Gadi” Johar]

Oh mommy, see how Time drove me far away
I lost direction, I am alienated and humiliated
Oh mommy, show me the escape
Fate drove me far away from you
It served me a bitter cup of longing[1]

Oh mommy, the interrupted flood of tenderness
Oh mommy, the generous moonlight[2]
Oh mommy, the morning light when it shines

Oh Zeinuba[3],
Your child is suffering in the roads of longing
Neglected, deprived of love and tenderness
Oh mommy, the flooding Sea of affection
Oh mommy, the flame of hope with an added shine
Oh mommy, the cluster of words and poetic verses
Oh mommy, the sensible tune that rings with yearning
My tears overflow thinking of you.

Oh mommy, I remember you at dawn,
When the breeze of air sings
When you rise in the morning to care for me
When our rooster starts to crow
And the little birds start to sing
As you cheerfully brought the milk
Oh mommy, I remember you at daybreak
Preparing the fire and baking bread[4]
And telling me, “Eat, it’s good!”

I remember you, oh mommy,
At night wearing the smile of a child,
When I’m up alone shepherding the stars
As the people around me lie down and sleep
As longing spreads its wings and hovers over me
I shout your name in my imagination
And your shadow passes over me
I hope the moments last longer
But your shadow suddenly disappears.

I remember you, oh mommy
When people from the countryside visit
Fine dust covering their bodies
The smell of dates on their clothes
And the color of earth blended in their skin
Yet, the longing still torments me
When I thought it will subside.

I remember you, oh mommy,
When the visitors head towards home
When they carefully fold their clothes.
And they board the lorries heading north[5]
Leaving me alone with no company
How can I bear my loneliness?

They’ve carried my greetings
God willing they will reach to you

Oh mommy,
When they tell you they saw me
In a safe place, content, relaxed and secure,
Be pleased,
Oh fountain of tenderness
Time bears witness to my situation

Oh mommy,
send me your forgiveness,
It may save me from the injustice of Time.

[Now it’s time to enjoy the music…]

[i] [بحر ﺍﻟﻤﻮﺩﺓ Bahr Almeweda. [literally, A Sea of Cordiality translated as “A Sea Of Longing”].
[1] In Arabic it is “jerraaAni Kas” and it could mean, gave me a dose, made me drink, etc.
[2] ﺑﺪﺭﻯ ﺍﻟﺒﺸﻊ is the original and it contextually interpreted.
[3] An endearment of his mother’s name, Hajja Zeineb.
[4] ﺻﺎﻻﻛﻰ ﻧﺎﺭ ﺍﻟﺪﻭﻛﻰ, this could be expressing the difficulty in working close to fire, as in cooking.
[5] Gebbel means “headed North”, and the land of Shagiya tribe is north of Khartoum.


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