Two-timer I am, infatuated
With the country in which I love
Yearning in corners, around bends
For the one I grew up in
Shani Mootoo’s great-great-grandparents were brought to Trinidad as indentured labourers by the British. There is no record of where they were from in India or whether it was kidnapping, trickery, or false promises of wealth that took them to the Caribbean.
In Oh Witness Dey! Mootoo expands the question of origins, from ancestry percentages and journey narratives, through memory, story, and lyric fragments. These vibrant poems transcend the tropes of colonial violence through saints and spices, rebellion and joy, to reimagine tensions and solidarities among various diasporas. They circumvent traditional conventions of style to find new routes toward understanding. They invite the reader to witness history, displacements and the legacies of our inheritance.