My Greatgrandmother was born in Portuguese ruled Goa, moved to Dar-es-Salam where she had three children and then returned to Goa (where she had 2 more children). She was widowed at a young age and took over supervising the work on the land (yes, in many ways a Zamindar. Sorry). Her gender was not a problem, nor that she was a widow. Because in Goa it didn’t matter as much then. She saw the transfer of power of Goa to India and then lived in India owned Goa too.
She spoke English, Portuguese, Konkani, Kswahili, Spanish and Hindi – these are only the ones I know of. She probably knew more.
She saw some aspects of our so-called global world. She asked my mother often about her travels as my father works on ships.
Eventually my greatgrandmother died. I knew her for 14 years of my life. She wasn’t young, because she was strong in so many ways.
Today, we make such a big deal of being “Global citizens” and advanced peoples. Yet all I see is our limited, pathetic homogenisation of outlook on life, in terms of language use, trends followed, what we find valuable and our never-ending ego-masturbation. This is no global world. This is hegemony.
I may be fetishising the past a little, but there is so much we presume about our superiority as we exist in the world today. I doubt much of it is true. Take language for example. We take classes to learn languages. We do not learn them to speak, to communicate. We do not learn them as cultural processes, with their meaning and their practice. We learn them as tools of accumulation – to get us ahead of others. How perverse our existence continues to be. It is no wonder many try to search for a previous self, our previous selves or a less unsatisfying way of life.