In the background of a mourning room, I can hear the chants, very slow and low at the same time, which kind of give me this feeling of nostalgia; what has remained is just poetry and very few old paintings that are hung on brown newspapers. And then there is that woman who keeps on waiting for that call of freedom near the window, she loves the smell of those remnants and believes that there is something about the old fragrance; her white old hair and the wrinkles tell me that she has witnessed so many things in just one life, hardly able to stand is a sign of bravery and faith as she keeps on looking near the window, puts her right hand on her heart and she prays to the Universe: Tomorrow morning will come again. Then, the complete silence of the room makes her become so intense with emotions which makes her turn to me, and with a kind of gesture she gets closer…she presses her lips with her teeth and holds my hands with that face of magic, she speaks “Listen to me, young child, this land is not mine, that is not where I come from, I have a very glorious land which has a dark history…You don’t need to bother about me but all that I want to tell you as a secret is that I want to be free as a bird…”
The old woman’s faith might just be the only remedy for her to survive, I am still thinking of a suitable answer that is needed to be given but she has torn me to pieces with a true story of her own. Diego Garcia is no longer portrayed as a beautiful land, but one that carries a very long and dark history. The island itself has hit its nation where people’s dreams were shattered and many have felt powerless to fight against throughout many years. It is not surprising that the Chagossians have touched many people in different parts of the world by the injustice and discrimination that many have faced. I often ask myself this question: why has the struggle been so slow while this strict system has drew on a variety of existing measures that had limited the rights, in fact I am referring to the basic human rights? Today, what Mauritius and Diego Garcia share in common is only the fact of being in the blue of the Indian Ocean. But at what cost of freedom? As a deploring figure, more than 2,000 Chagossians were forced to be displaced to Mauritius and Seychelles in the 1960s, so as to make way for the construction of a U.S military base. The poisoning and shooting of dogs or even the setting of coconut husks ablaze are no longer a fiction story today; instead are viewed as a brutal system where many people were being injured, feared the bullets and were badly forced to leave their homeland.
It is seen as a system based upon race as it was viewed negatively through discrimination and exclusion. One of our Mauritian singers Zulu has even described how the people of Diego Garcia’s rights have been baffled and had nothing except to surrender themselves to the British as they were unable to go against them “ ene bane solda ek zot fizi lor zil tine debarke, kot Sagosien ti pe reste bizin pran sime ale, prezan ti anvol dan divan larsipel vine amer, fam zanfan ti kumas tranble pa kapav rezinbe, larm ti rampli dan zot lizie fine sanz zot destine, promes ki zame fine tini fer zot trap labouzi….” Is that not a loss of cultural heritage and a myriad of consequential damages suffered by the Chagossians? The Chagossians have suffered a wide range of harms whose value is difficult to estimate, these include both non-pecuniary and economic injuries to such things as their health, their educational opportunities, and their psychological well-being.
And then the evening has ended with broken promises again, somehow it is not new for the old woman to go to bed with a false hope, and many like her know that probably the birds of Diego Garcia could probably never return back…all that they do is to recall different segments to what their lives were before, and after they migrated to another land, voices of agony and distress along with rage are still unheard to Big leaders, but where do lonely birds go? I believe that birds are liberated from their cages but to the world they can only fly through broken dreams in the light to find happiness and hope through their homeland.