Is the homeland always lost? If you’re living in it, it’s not so much of a homeland so much as it is your land. It only takes the prefix home once you’ve visited another land––or until there comes a change to the land you’d called home. A “you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone" kind-of scenario. I think this is telling of a central aspect of the homeland in that it is always firmly rooted in the past, and the past is eternally far away––forever out of our grasp.
In Patricia Grace’s novel Potiki she tells the story of the Te Ope tribe, a community of Maori natives living in European colonized New Zealand. Grace calls this period of colonization a “contact point” because it is a crossroads between the traditional Maori lifestyle and the rapidly developing modern culture brought upon by the migrating Europeans. Among this plane of cultural exchange we are introduced to Toko, a native boy born into the the melting pot New Zealand. I empathize with Toko since his situation is so close to my own. My parents are from a homeland much like Toko’s parents and my life has been a tug-of-war between two completely different worlds. I was raised by my parents and they instilled in me the teachings of their mothers and fathers, and i was also raised by the city and all of its different pallets of people. My first language was Spanish but I speak perfect english without any hint of an accent. Personally, I appreciate the person I am because of my dualistic upbringing, it has made me into a unique individual. Rooted in the past but forever moving forward.