Breaking Loose by M. G. Vassanji

Breaking Loose by M. G. Vassanji

Sometimes it is hard to answer simple questions – where is a person’s homeland? Where did he come from? What kind of culture is his native? In the modern world, all countries and nations have mixed up too much to give a definite answer. Two young people meet at the university to dance together. The man is African. The girl is Asian. Everything happens in Africa, in the girl’s hometown. The man came from far away. Which of them is a foreigner? And should we look for an answer to this question? A fashion band is playing on the stage. The vocalist is also Asian. He is singing a very fashionable foreign song. Under the stage there are few girls in bright clothes. Another group of girls is standing at the end of the hall and waiting for chairs and tables to be released. The room is very hot. The people are sweating profusely.

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Breaking Loose by M. G. Vassanji

Where do we come from, where do we belong, where is home? Easy questions, but the answers are not always so simple. Family, culture, history – all these things connect in different and mysterious ways.

Breaking Loose by M. G. Vassanji

An Asian girl and an African man meet at a university dance in an African country. It is the girl’s home town, and the man is a visitor from another country. Who is the foreigner here… and does it matter?

A band called Iblis was playing on the stage. The singer and guitarist was a young Asian with long hair, now singing another popular foreign song. Close to the stage danced a group of fashionable, brightly dressed girls. Their wild way of dancing seemed to say that they were the girlfriends of the four young men in the band.

Yasmin was at the far end of the dance floor with her girlfriends. She and two of the girls were standing, because there weren’t enough chairs. Sometimes she looked round at the dancers and the band, hoping to see an empty chair that she could bring over. The band was loud, the room was hot and airless, and everyone was sweating. A well-dressed black man in a grey suit appeared out of the crowd of dancers. He came up to her and asked her to dance. She went.

Of all the girls here, why me? I don’t want to dance. I can’t dance, she thought. From the centre of the dance floor she looked back sadly at her friends, who were talking and laughing in the distance.

‘I’m sorry,’ he smiled. ‘I took you away from your friends.’

‘It’s okay… only for a few minutes-‘ she began, and blushed, realizing that was not a polite answer. After all, I should be pleased, she thought. He’s a professor.

It was a dance that did not need any closeness or touching – and she was grateful for that.

‘Daniel Akoto. That’s my name.’

‘I know… I’m Yasmin Rajan.’

It’s all so unnecessary, she thought. I’m not the type. Why didn’t he dance with one of those girls near the stage?

She looked at him. He danced much better than she did.

She was shorter than him. Her long hair was brushed straight back from her face, and she wore a simple dress. This was the middle of her second year at the university…

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