18 January 2008

The second song on the album is called "Tomas". I've told the story about how I wrote it a few times at gigs and stuff but I'll recount it here for the blog's sake.

In Julian Schnabel's film Before Night Falls (2000), based on the memoirs of the late Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, theres a minor character named Tomas Diego (played by Chilean actor Santiago Magill). Tomas was one of Arenas's lovers. In the film, he was forced to work in a labour camp, we assume, for being gay. (Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Cuba in 1979. During the 1960s and 70s, there was a history of persecution against gay individuals under Fidel Castro's regime.) About halfway through the film, as the character of Arenas (played by Spanish actor Javier Bardem) himself was on the run from the authorities, we find out from a scene that Tomas had died while trying to escape from the camp. This is juxtaposed with a scene of Tomas, his face illuminated by the flames rising from a burning sugar cane field, his sweaty bespectacled face flecked with soot and dirt, on the run with other detainees from the wardens.

That one image haunted me.

That one could be persecuted for one's sexuality is something that's so hard to comprehend. That the state could have that kind of power over someone's life, passion, love. It boggles the mind.

Though most countries and societies have come to tolerate gay culture and lifestyles in recent decades, there are still a few regimes around that are severely intolerant. The public execution of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in 2005 was a heartbreaking missive from that part of the world where the tyranny of dogma has overtaken reason and humanity.

I wrote "Tomas" in memory of the real life Tomas Diego, and also for anyone who has ever suffered any form of persecution for his or her sexuality.



Tomas, Tomas
Your glasses are covered by flies
Plentiful earth mother
She lights up your eyes

Can the tongue recall
What the heart does not fear
All those nights in Havana
Finally disappear

Tomas, Tomas
Your glasses are covered by flies
Plentiful earth mother
She lights up your eyes

Does the mind turn away
What the soul cannot see
When the hand harvests
Neither death nor sugar for free

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Blogger Amir said...
Jerome? Di sini rupanya kamu!