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Get Back To Where You Once Belonged

by Vi Nguyen 26 days ago in social commentary

The journey of finding home and belonging in a divided and sinking world.

Get Back To Where You Once Belonged
Photo by Tran Phu on Unsplash

Beyond the fall of Saigon, my parents found refuge somewhere foreign

Their escape and their union bore me and gave me a home

Yet, where I grew up, I was told many times to go back to where I belong

How could I though, I'd been there my whole life – it was all I had known

I supposed they meant the land of my origin

I even wondered how desperate they were for my return

Were they just hoping my boat would capsize in the middle of the ocean?

How could it be where you are born and bred,

Was not enough to be accepted, let alone appreciated

Why does difference in looks or skin tone warrant such way to be treated

With a questioning of allegiance or worse threatened

It certainly was not a language problem that triggered it

I had no issue with English and spoke it perfectly, still didn't stop them from pulling back their eyelids

While around me, my kind internalized the sentiments just to fit in, leaving me wondering how this was justified?

Perhaps I should go back to where I belonged

For this was not the world I wanted to inhabit

But I went back because I wanted, not because they demanded

In fact, I was welcomed with acceptance, and people so kind-hearted

Where no slurs of Ching Chong or Gook were to be heard

I relished in such memories and of discovering the homes of my ancestors

And connecting the dots of where my story started and having my identity finally conferred

There’s a Vietnamese proverb that says our home pond is always better than anywhere else

Another saying of ours allows us to recognize our kinship which ensures mutual benevolence

No matter where I live or come from, a home is a place where I can feel belonging

Yet I occupy many worlds, Vietnamese, Western, or even Anthropocene

I’m reminded now of the portion of my ancestral homes sinking in 2050

Thinking about our lands disappearing along with our history devastates me deeply

Now, as more of our homes are at threat of sinking, perhaps we will consider it urgent

Of any displacement resulting from violence, insurgents, extreme weather events

Or rising sea levels that will leave us all at a crossroads for a place we can seek residence

Yet such movement provides solace; for hope, change and resilience

A chance for us to start again, stronger and with renewed spirit - bridging us away from indifference

Perhaps allowing us to ride the waves closer to a world of tolerance and not taking our homes for granted

For who would not hope to have a home or belong in a world where we can be accepted, regardless of our differences... and to live in a world where we can all just coexist?

social commentary

Vi Nguyen

Writer and budding filmmaker on a quest to spark ripples in the consciousness and to bridge the divide through universal understanding.

Melbourne, Australia


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