Toes digging into the sandy beach, I feel the jagged edges of broken coral scratch and poke my feet. These feet which have travelled oceans to reach the safety of continents, where the place of your birth determines your status… your place… who you will be.
These feet that the sat on the boat, pressed against the metal hull of the ship, watching the horizon, hoping for land, fearing the sight of land. The ocean mist, like the magical seductions of Intiran, cast visions in the vapour of lands of free people and laughing children.
On the horizon, land – a new hope, a new tale. Forget who you are, who you were. That you walked the daggers edge between horror and love, between moments of joy and disparity and cast yourself into the oceans’ mercy.
Tell me your story… they ask, these men who protect those inside from people like us. People who are armed with stolen fragments of our lives, carried with tender care through jungles, and deserts, protected, as we could not those around us.
Tell me your story… Do I tell you my past, the one where I walked the land that my father sowed the seeds of our dreams? Do I tell you that even in moments of war; they are precious instances of love and celebration?
Do I tell you of how I worked, studied, and became a scholar, a teacher, a father, a son, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a friend? Can I show you all the sides of me and that I am more than that status that you will ascribe.
These words remain stuck, as I repeat the one you want to hear. My story, her story, history… the story of my people that the world has created and the story I must tell to have you hear me… to have the three words that would end my journey.
… Asylum claim… accepted.
© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy
***Author’s Note: This is an earlier poem that I had written and have been tweaking. It was inspired by the refugee boats that arrived in Canada and Australia and my family’s own journey. ***