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Grace Ali

Published On


Page Range

pp. 69-82

Print Length

13 pages

4. The Geography of Separation

In ‘The Geography of Separation,’ Grace Aneiza Ali writes about women and girls who have known both spectrums of the migration arc: to leave and to be left. The essay is a travelogue, composed of four vignettes, each focusing on a woman or girl Grace encountered in a precise moment in time and in a particular place—Guyana, India, and Ethiopia. Each abstract is framed as an ‘Arrival’ or ‘Departure’ to situate the author's accountability to these places and to the ways she entered into or departed the lives of the people who live there. Twenty-five years after her first departure from Guyana and many miles circling the globe since, all roads still seem to lead back to Guyana. Whether Grace is in Hyderabad or Harrar or Harlem, she finds herself weaving the stories of these places and the people she has encountered with those of Guyana. For now, this is how she psychically returns. And yet she know it is not enough. In her collection of memoir-essays, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, the Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat examines what it means to write stories about a land she no longer lives in. ‘Some of us think we are accidents of literacy,’ she says. Each time Grace boards a plane for another far-off land, she grapples with the guilt that it is not bound for Guyana. She is haunted by the what-ifs. What if I had stayed? What kind of stories should I be telling of Guyana? What do I owe this country? Am I guilty, too, of forgetting?