After The Last Ship

A Post-colonial Reconstruction of Diaspora

by Audrey Fernandes-Satar (Author)
©2014 Thesis 166 Pages


After the Last Ship illustrates the author’s own history, as well as its connection to the history of other women and children who left India and made the journey across the Kala Pani, the Indian Ocean, and lived as migrants in other countries. In this book the author brings greater understanding of how subjectivities are shaped through embodied experiences of ‘mixed race’. She bears witness to the oppressive policies of the fascist government in Portugal in the 1960’s and 1970’s and the effects of displacement and exile, by reconstructing her own passage from India to Mozambique and finally to Australia. Further, the author shows the devastation that labels such as ‘half-caste’, ‘canecos’ and ‘monhe’ can cause, when they eat at your flesh, your being, and your body. She sheds light on how identity and culture can serve as vehicles of empowerment, how experiences of belonging can germinate and take root post-diaspora.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Tamarind, Imli, Amli, Chinch Amtan
  • Nutmeg Jaifal Jaifal Jaifal
  • First Moment
  • Second Moment
  • Third Moment
  • Fourth Moment
  • Chapter One: To forget what I remember
  • Bread Roti, Bakar Rotti, Paum Undo, Paum
  • Potato Battatta, Allu Bottatta Bottatto
  • Rice Bhat, Cheaval Bhat, Chaval Xit, Tandul
  • The first wave of the journey
  • Milk Dudh Dudh Duhd
  • The second wave of the journey
  • Ani Seed, Boddixep, Boodixep, Baddixep
  • The third wave of the journey
  • The beginning of our voyage
  • Run Audrey, run, run
  • Monhe, Piri-Piri Monguso
  • Monhe Piri Piri Monguso Monhe Piri Piri Monguso
  • Saucer Sasar Basi Sasar Basi Pir
  • Becoming an artist
  • Chapter Two: To live on this border
  • Eatables Kardie, Khaneki Khan Khavonn, Khana
  • Gingeli Oil, Teel Tel, Teelcha Tel, Teelel Tel
  • Chapter Three: To remember myself
  • Fan, Panka, Panka, Aino
  • Representing the body
  • Spoon, Chemchea, Chemchea, Kuler
  • Sieve, Chalni, Chalni, Chalni
  • Ashes, Rak, Rak Gabar, Gobor
  • Belonging Space and Third Space
  • Chapter Four: To go back there again
  • On Place India Place
  • How does it feel to be able to say this is my country
  • On restoration
  • On split ends place
  • On forgetting very well
  • How can I recover, how can I re-present.
  • On not knowing
  • On Returning To The Place Where You Were Born
  • On remembering not so very well
  • On smelling like my place home
  • On walking through this garden
  • On being this or that
  • On not staying
  • On Leaving again
  • On being at home in this place Here
  • On looking for dead man’s shoes
  • She didn’t know why
  • On Survival
  • Bibliography


After the last ship embodies the critical incident that illustrates my own history, as well as its connection to the history of other women who, like myself, made the journey across the Kala Pani, the Indian Ocean, and lived as migrants in other lands. In this book I aim to bring greater understanding of how subjectivities are shaped through embodied experiences of diaspora and the diasporising of home (Brah 1996). I have explored my own passage from India to Mozambique and finally to Australia, to testify how diaspora may be lived, embodied and experienced in the flesh.

Moreover, I bear witness to the oppressive policies of the fascist government in Portugal and the effects of displacement and exile. I bear witness to the devastation that labels such as ‘half-caste’ can cause, when they eat at your flesh, your being, your body. I bear witness to how identity and culture can serve as vehicles of empowerment, how experiences of belonging can germinate and take root, post-diaspora.

Finally this project is about illuminating and making sense of the act of diaspora and the journey that is diaspora. It is also about representation, about me as a body, as a racialised and gendered body living this journey, this trajectory. My diasporic space is pulled apart and reconstructed within a feminist, postcolonial framework, with the vision that this scrutiny will shed light on how I come to visualise myself inhabiting Homi Bhabha’s Third Space (1988), a space of movement and enunciation.


Tamarind is bitter sweet; as a child the tanginess of the seeds made my toes curl, the sharpness of its flavour lingers… it is how I see my story, my journey through diaspora. ← 9 | 10 →

A few years have gone by since I began to create this book, but the subject matter has been a lifelong project for me. If I could have known as a child that one day I would be standing here, writing, speaking, drawing, drawing, always drawing about our life, the journey here would have been oh so much easier.

The title After the Last Ship marks that fatal day when my family left Goa India in search of a better future and I had to part from my grandmother and other mothers, the women who had nurtured me, told me numerous stories and helped me make sense of the world during the first five years of my life. In Chapter One I tell my story, opening with a poem to my grandmother that lends its name to this book. This poem is about leaving, about boarding the ship that took us to Mozambique with my Mum and Dad, my four brothers and sisters and my Aunty Marmee. Most importantly it’s about saying goodbye to my grandmother, my Nana, never to see her again, or touch her, embrace and smell her. The poem is also about remembering other leavings, the stories my Nana passed on to my Aunties, of other women, family members and others taken to work as indentured labourers to other places other lands and of never coming back or of returning to ‘look for dead man’s shoes’ and being displaced and forgotten.

I have used items (listed in the glossary section) from my grandmother’s cookery book as headings and subheadings in each chapter. Each item is listed in English, with translations in Hindi, Marathi and Konkani: ICE, BARAF, BARAF, BARAF the last is my tribal language. I have used the headings to reflect on the ‘taste’ I associate with each chapter or section – for example, I have named this section TAMARIND for the bitter sweet taste it leaves in me, as I reflect on my life journey. These headings adorn the pages with the sounds that the words perform, to give something of the flavour of this embodied, multi-lingual, feminist story.

As a child I was taught to read in more than one language and used this cookery book as practice, as I sat and played around the women in my family as they prepared the meals for the day. As I read out a word, the name of a fruit, a vegetable or an ingredient in a recipe, there was my grandmother’s voice teaching me the correct pronunciation, performing the words, shifting from one language to ← 10 | 11 → another. It was music to my ears. Sometimes she would laugh as I made up words that had elements of all four languages, but was none of them. Even if the reader misreads the words, as I have done, there is a certain aesthetic in the misreading or mispronunciation.

But it’s more than that: the misconstruction of words leads to a kind of slippage, that moves away from essential notions of culture. Something that runs within the vein, how I have consciously embodied the experience of diaspora, how I have tried to ground myself in the countries we have lived in, how the sound of my voice carries the accents and mispronunciations of the languages and alphabets I have learnt. These elements have become the spine for my formatting.

For the past years twenty years I have kept several diaries: I have a Bus Diary where I write my journeys and the people I come upon, going on the number 99 and 98 Bus, which is called the circle route, connecting all universities around Perth. It is supposed to be a ‘fast’ bus with limited stops, but at times it is very slow, stopping at every stop, picking up school kids on their way home. The bus is then transformed by the twittering sound of children recounting their day, laughing or at times angry. It feels as if I’m in a nest of chirping birds, some happy, some sad.

I have a Private Diary where I write my inmost concerns regarding various aspects of my many uprootings and resettlements, and I have an Art Diary where I record my responses to exhibitions I visit, to the politics of the gallery and the dynamics of other patrons, the way they act and perform within gallery spaces. At various times I have also recorded my thoughts as I have travelled, especially my recollections of growing up in Mozambique, or my visits to India. They are not travel journals, but more a kind of response, a reply to the landscape I find myself within. Sometimes they are an expression of the strong sense of sadness or more, an expression of the grief, loss and bereavement I have experienced. Other times they are an expression of what I saw within the chaos that surrounded me.

I have included sections of my diaries within this book; I have the urge to return to them over and over again. The scripting and recording of these diaries was conceived as an unsigned process, no one had ever read them or seen them or even knew that I was creating them. ← 11 | 12 →

I wrote them so I could make sense of myself to myself. It affords me a break in the process of remembering, almost as if, when I look inside, this inward gaze brings up and names a vulnerable area, previously unnamed and unmarked, but one that does not lie dormant, it creates noise in me; loud noises and riots. The mere gesture of writing in these diaries created a balanced silence, an evenhanded breathing space, if only for a few moments. Now as I examine my diaries and include them in this body of writing, I have named them. I mark them and scrape and scuff them and by doing so I have extended the stillness, the tranquility inside me.

I have endeavoured to structure this book in parallel with the creation of my visual work. Drawing and writing are similar acts –just as I have theorised a concept in writing I have explored it through drawing, using Judith Dinham’s (1995) notion of drawing as ‘ideation’. Documentation of selected artworks I have created for this project is included within the body of this writing. These have been exhibited in mainstream galleries in Perth, Western Australia.

The artworks are not an ‘illustration’ of the theories discussed, but are more an exploration of intangible feelings, like the sound of breathing that comes from speaking the word diaspora, or the sound of a grinding stone, or the memory of the ache in my calves, in my legs as I walked in and out of the city, day after day. These things fall out of the hem of theory and sometimes, to me, outside the edge of language. So, I have drawn them.

All the chapters are interwoven with narratives presented as poems. I have no prior knowledge of the semantic structure of poems. I have written these pieces at various times; when remembering some detail in my childhood or my past I was somehow compelled to structure the spoken word in this way. I consider the poems to be a kind of linguistic hybrid in Bakhtin’s sense:


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (April)
history India oppressive policies displacement empowerment
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 166 pp., num. coloured and b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Audrey Fernandes-Satar (Author)

Audrey Fernandes-Satar is an academic, researcher and visual artist in the School of Education at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. Her body of work includes the investigation of the politics of identity, transnationality and the border. Audrey has exhibited nationally and internationally. She traces her heritage to the people of Gaunco Vaddo, who left Goa during the nineteenth century.


Title: After The Last Ship
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