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After The Last Ship

A Post-colonial Reconstruction of Diaspora

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Audrey Fernandes-Satar

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.

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Chapter One To forget what I remember 29

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29 Chapter One To forget what I remember It was the month after The monsoon rains The day we left In the dark In the dark… like thieves on The back of a truck We left in the dark BREAD ROTI, BAKAR ROTTI, PAUM UNDO, PAUM We were ready to leave. Our bags were packed We stepped on the gangplank Between water and land Between water and land we’d stay Between water and land… For the rest of our lives For the rest of our lives What lives? Bodies displaced Between land and water There is no going back Sem retorno My grandmother She said it was nineteen hundred and something the day they all left to find a better place. Why did they go to nowhere beyond nowhere. 30 She said we will never know. No history was written then only in our throats in our necks in our chests She said only here could we know the deaf Footsteps drawn on the black water of The Kala Pani The ship smelt of fresh made coffee The smell blew gently outside Outside I would come to know this smell well I saw tears in her eyes Like I’ve never seen before Flowing like the ocean Never again And offering a tight embrace I nestled in her lap I promised not Not to leave Not to leave Not to leave her Never to leave her Between water and land I promised to remember her She said they all walked past...

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