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artAs part of my course on world literatures in English, I recently asked students to compose a piece of imaginative writing that reflected some of the issues that we had discussed in class in relation to diaspora and the diasporic experience. My hope was that this task would encourage students to think creatively rather than (just) critically about this kind of literature.

Over the next few days I will be posting some of the poems and short pieces of prose that the students presented – and I invite you to leave comments or questions for the authors. Over all, I think you will agree that the students did a wonderful job of thinking creatively about this difficult concept:


“Phone Calls”
by Lydia Chan (1 November, 2016)

“Come home mama! I miss you…”

“I miss you too, you know…I’m just… just waiting for the right time.”

“¿Cuándo?”

“Soon, ¿vale? …Yo te quiero mucho mucho…”

“Yo también te quiero, mama.”

“We will be together again soon, very soon. I promise, soon…”

I hung up the phone, again, because I didn’t want to hear my little boy cry, and because my bosses were waiting for me to feed their baby. The baby kept on crying and it made me want to cry with it. I miss my home. I miss everything there: my husband, my kids, my parents, my friends. Being away is hard, but I’ve got no choice. I can’t go back. I spent dimes to get here, just because I want a living, for me, and for them. There is no life back there, our homeland, just no life. I can’t bear to see them suffering every single day, so I came here, to get us a better life.

I was too innocent, now I know. There is no life here either, well, maybe just no life for people like us. We do get a better place to live, but people like us would never fit in. The people here and we are from two distinct worlds. We serve, they don’t. We sweep, they don’t. We wash, they don’t. Mr and Mrs Spencer are always nice to me, but they and I would never become friends. The couple hang out with their friends with expensive wine and good food in some fancy places; while I hang out with my friends, who are also away from our homeland, with soft drinks and cheap snacks at any public area available. We talk about our home and sing old folk songs. We all laugh and seem to be enjoying ourselves, which we do, but deep down we all are sad. We want to get home. We miss home.

My phone rang again. My little boy called me because he won a medal in a race at school. I could tell how thrilled he was just by hearing his voice. I wish I could be there to watch him getting the medal. I wish I could be there to hug and kiss him. I wish I could be there to tell him how proud I am of him. But I couldn’t.

“Mama is SO proud of you, you know?”

“I miss you so much mama, when will you come back?”

“Pronto, pronto. Just wait me a little longer, then I’ll be home with you, ¿vale?”

“Vale…”

“I love you very much, mi amor”

“I love you too mama, come home…”

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