An Ode to Things and a Farewell

So, here we are in part 2 of the ongoing repatriation saga.

Packing and moving over continents is always a stressful act. The emotions tied to watching your possessions be carefully, or not so carefully wrapped and boxed can be overwhelming. It’s easy to dismiss possessions as nothing more than trinkets, clutter that fill your living space, but for most people those are expressions of themselves. The tiny fat dodo bird made of green glass that sits on my mantle may be nothing more than a dust collector to visitors, but for me, it is the embodiment of a carefree, relaxed week with my oldest family friends in Mauritius. It’s the memories of that week, the comfort of being my
self around people who’ve known me almost my entire life, and the memories of childhood holidays with the same people that that week evoked, all encased in a squat glass bird.

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Then and Now

Gather round, grab a bean bag, get comfortable. I’ve got some things to get off my chest, so let’s start with my story of expatriation and repatriation.

 

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Fashionable and stylish on our departure from Brunei

On the 1st of February 1975, my parents and I arrived in Australia from Brunei as new migrants. My mother was 41, my father 47. I wasn’t yet 6 years old. My siblings would join us from India a few months later as we set out to reunite the family. Through a series of circumstances and choices, we found ourselves uprooted both from the home my parents had created in Brunei, and from the boarding schools my siblings had called home for so many years. We were flung together, casting about for a foothold in our new country, our new home, trying to stitch up the edges of a family.

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On 17th birthdays and glimpses of the adult

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Image by Ed Schipul/Flickr

So, here I am very early on Godzilla’s 17th birthday, resting on the corner of Testosterone Lane and Horsepower Road. Having two teen boys in the house means a lot of muscle flexing, boundary pushing, and territory marking. They wake with teasing exchanges that rapidly morph into the rat-tat-tat of suddenly flared tempers. And before long, like two elephant seals, they’re bumping and jostling each other over the most trivial of things. Left to their own devices, I’m sure they’d find a way to argue over two flies climbing up the wall.

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I’m Outraged. Now What?

So, you’ve been on Facebook and Twitter over the last two days, and maybe you’ve seen your US friends posting furiously about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. You might’ve read many articles and watched the videos (if you are not Black, then I encourage you strongly to watch the videos. They are harrowing, but necessary for an understanding of how Black people in the US are treated regularly). And now you’re enraged, heartsore, a whirlwind of emotions, but you don’t know what to do next.

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