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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

Extract

It was the month afterThe monsoon rainsThe day we leftIn the darkIn the dark… like thieves onThe back of a truckWe left in the dark

We were ready to leave.Our bags were packedWe stepped on the gangplankBetween water and landBetween water and land we’d stayBetween water and land…For the rest of our livesFor the rest of our livesWhat lives?

Bodies displaced

Between land and waterThere is no going backSem 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. ← 29 | 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 PaniThe ship smelt of fresh made coffeeThe smell blew gently outsideOutsideI would come to know this smell wellI saw tears in her eyesLike I’ve never seen beforeFlowing like the oceanNever againAnd offering a tight embraceI nestled in her lapI promised notNot to leaveNot to leaveNot to leave herNever to leave herBetween water and landI promised to remember her

She said they all walked past her as she hid beneath the cardamom tree they walked past silently herded like cattle going to the slaughter house. She said she could smell them smell their fear smell their anguish....

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