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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 Four To go back there again 135

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135 Chapter Four To go back there again They gathered, and gathered and gathered every grain of rice, only the rice ears stayed… On Place India Place I can only remember the immediate surroundings of the places we have lived in. A child does not wander off too far away. Stay close, she would say and I knew she was close at hand, from the smell of caramelised onions on her clothes, on her lap, where I laid my head. I am going back to India. Are you going home, they ask. Where is home. Many places. Homelessness. It is not such a bad thing; you may find solace inside, or in many places, or even a purpose for being homeless. A purpose. How does it feel to be able to say this is my country Although I know now where I was born, where the women I am linked to in blood are from, still I am on the periphery, on the fringes. What is India to me? A myth I have carried all these years, shielding me from discrimination and shame. I could cope better with their racism be- cause I told myself – this is not your country, in your country this would not happen. 136 What would she have said to all I write and think. Did she not tell us who we were to protect us. Or did she not tell us so we would feel inferior. Did she believe we were inferior. Questions more than...

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