It was on a sleepy Sunday during my visit to Chile when it occurred to me that all my exile woes are not mine at all. I was not an actor in the events that led us to leave chile and remain in the UK. No scars on my body, no political allegiances. Devoid of any decision making and not even part of the action, I was left to wonder whether any of my gripes are really mine, after all I have inherited this affliction.
Being a secondary exile has no perks, it has all of the pain but none of the glory: Survival syndrome is rife in a situation where you are unscathed yet the inanimate participant of a tragedy. Maybe this has been feeding into my social insecurities, that ‘imposter syndrome’ that has become a more of a way of life than a neurosis.
Confusion has permeated most of my memories. Unsure of the complexities of our arrival to the UK, I somehow felt responsible for the solitude of my father, anxious about the thumbprint that torture had impressed upon my grandfather, helpless about the destruction of family ties that exile has bestowed upon us, collectively. And yet, in the fog of untold stories, I grapple to find my place in the narrative. In the womb when Allende was overthrown, barely alive when my family went into hiding, I find myself a protagonist of a story of which I am not the narrator. Perhaps this is the cause of post traumatic anxieties that many of those of my generation struggle with. All those babies born in the political crossfire of Allende’s chile, all those toddlers fleeing Pinochet’s Chile. All helpless, all part of the rotten tapestry of one of our history’s darkest chapters. And yet as the train threatens to derail and crash, we have no answers. Because the train is not ours. And we do not have authority or command of it.