I was born and grew up in a place of no longer—A place that only exists in memory. None of what constitutes my homeland is anymore. Was colonialism real? Did I live it? Where is the evidence? Sometimes, I feel like I was just a dream. I am the last colonial.
European colonialism has erased my ancestors’ truths—their pride, their humanity, their love. What was left was blame, and shame, and rage—sometimes directed to our families; sometimes, to ourselves. We became afraid. Too afraid to find out the truth. Too afraid to face our feelings. Too afraid—to connect with our deepest selves. We learned to be afraid of ourselves. We bury our pain.
Chinese nationalism couldn’t allow for Western imperialism to be remembered. At the end of decades of anticipation, Chinese modernity came overnight. As a people, we couldn’t wait to rid of our shame—our mental slavery. The humiliation that imperialism has brought us. The Party forced us to forget, like a parent’s advise to his child, “Just get over it!”. We pretend.
In the exercise between forgetting and remembering oppressions and fantasies—my mental world was shattered into many fragments. Torn between two nations and the dichotomy of the colonizer and the subaltern, my soul was split into three dimensions—ones that are constructed by the colonizer’s imperial lies; the emperor’s nationalistic dreams; and my own insignificant aspirations.
My upbringing taught me to understand my world as constrained by those multiple grids of class, status, language, color, gender, sexuality, and subordination.
I couldn’t bear the tensions, ambivalences, and anxieties any longer.