The passport that flew away


I have touched on this subject before and I am doing it again today! It is about the question of nationalities. People have many times asked me what I see myself as. I have to be honest and explain that I am convinced that our first years are most important in shaping one’s personal identity.

I carry today a Swedish passport and it makes sense since I have lived in Sweden for the most part of my life. But I have had the Portuguese and British passports before. What happened for me to lose the Portuguese nationality which emotionally best correspond to my own feelings and identity!

I will explain. When I was living in London my thoughts were always to go back to Portugal which I missed grandly. Apart from my nearest family that lived there and the friends I had left I missed the Atlantic coast. I often talked about it and the people that came closest to me during those London years knew and could plan on going there with me. But I couldn’t so when my father came to London in 1971 he looked up some of his old acquaintances at the Consulate, from his own time there.

We were told that if I wanted to go back I would have to lose the Portuguese nationality first or I would risk being sent to the army and subsequently to some of the fronts in colonized Africa. Of course this was said on an unofficial way as a personal favour. I was give some forms, filled them in handed in my first passport with the national symbol on the front and the word PORTUGAL.

As I left for Sweden in 1972 it wasn’t until years later that my request was granted and sadly it was already after the revolution of 1974.

This is not a picture of my passport but mine looked something like this!

1 thought on “The passport that flew away

  1. It is kind of funny how my fate is like a less conspicuously pronounced repetition of my father’s in these regards.

    Where and how was my identity shaped?
    I was born a British citizen, in Sweden, inheriting citizenship from my father as was then Swedish law.
    I was born to a British passport, but I have lived all my life in Sweden, and Swedish is my first and everyday language. I have been on English soil for a total of a few weeks of my life… and it was now more than 25 years ago…

    No-one will say other than that obviously my identity must be shaped so as I should feel myself being a Swede. To think the passport would have a say in this would be superstitious…

    But fact is after all that from as early an age as I can have any notion of it, I considered myself an Englishman. Quite fervently! When Ovett and Coe brought 4 medals for the UK in the 1980’s olympics I was in an ecstasy. The Union Jack made my heart swell. Admiral Nelson was my hero. Seeing the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Di on TV was a great impact on my 7-year old mentality. I wanted to be Prince Charles. Aye, *was* I not really him? And Lord Nelson! That was the style! That was how things were supposed to be!
    I grew up with Beatles and David Bowie as models. It was the music of my parents of course, but it was very rare among my peers to have as young and international parents as they were.
    And of course there was my English-speaking father – when I was really small I was not sure what was the role of this odd bird. He was related to the family somehow, but it was evident that he was also an alien and he was more of a *fashion icon* than a part of *us*. I think he was more than anything else connected with the Beatles and all the kind of crashing music – Rolling Stones, Queen, Thin Lizzy… it made no difference to me… – that my grandparents Olle and Aime didn’t like. (Neither did I those first years, I was on their side.)

    Though these are things that belong to my childish mind, I still must say that I feel more in my own with an English mindset than with a Swedish. It is not an opinion – it is not a standpoint I take that “English is better”. It is more like I instinctively relate to and engage with the English mind – both the splendid and the dark sides – better than the Swedish.
    Even when I come across instances of what can be recognized as idiosyncratically English arrogance or vulgarity, things that I don’t appreciate, I still feel that I can relate to it in a way I don’t to typically Swedish ways.

    Secondly how my father’s fate has been dimly repeated in me is related to the military. I got a Swedish citizenship after a few years, so I had double.
    When I was enrolled for the Swedish military, I had just begun an academic term(in Umeå as my father!) and acquired a room to live. I asked for a respite, but didn’t get it, so I renounced my Swedish citizenship to avoid the army!

    And strangely echoing his story, I belonged to the last but one age class for whom the military service was mandatory so in my case too it can be said that the army aught not have needed to bother so strictly about my participation. The national conscription system was already on its way out.

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