[Blackstudies-l] Junot Díaz: The Mongoose and the Émigré

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Mon May 22 07:50:02 EDT 2017


lisaparavisini posted: " An article by Junot Díaz for the New York Times.
There were mongooses everywhere on the island, but in those years I only
ever saw them in Azua, where my mother was from. When we visited that part
of the country, which seemed to me as withered as Sant"
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New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> Junot Díaz: The
Mongoose and the Émigré
<http://repeatingislands.com/2017/05/21/junot-diaz-the-mongoose-and-the-emigre/>
by
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 5.26.59 PM.png]

An article by Junot Díaz for the *New York Times*.
<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/magazine/the-mongoose-and-the-emigre.html?emc=edit_th_20170521&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=41473240>

There were mongooses everywhere on the island, but in those years I only
ever saw them in Azua, where my mother was from. When we visited that part
of the country, which seemed to me as withered as Santo Domingo was lush,
they never failed to appear — low-slung sweeps of light, streaking across a
baseball field, vanishing into grass. Mongooses were irresistible to a kid
like me. Even in that small place, their reputations preceded them:
legendary ratters, breakers of serpents, lightning fast and smart like all
get out. Naturally I wanted one for a pet, but my abuelo, who knew
everything about every animal in Azua, just laughed. Jurones can’t be
tamed, he explained. Son guapo.

I still remember watching a mongoose pick off one of my abuela’s chicks
right in front of our eyes, and while my abuela cursed the mongoose down to
hell, I felt nothing but admiration for its speed and its audacity.

When we emigrated, mongooses were one of those things that followed me from
the home country. It’s always surprising what crosses over with you when
you emigrate, what remains. I forgot all the games I played with my little
friends, I forgot the platanero who came to our street in the morning. But
I didn’t forget the rains, and I certainly didn’t forget the mongooses.

There were no mongooses in New Jersey, but I kept my eyes peeled for them
anyway — the impossible longing of the immigrant. When they did appear — in
Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom,” in “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” in Alexander Key’s
“Flight to the Lonesome Place,” as a brand of bike — I was thrilled. And in
those moments, all the distances inside me lessened.

Later, when I was in college, I learned that, like my own people, the
mongoose had been brought over to the Caribbean in chains to work the
plantations — and yet they, too, had managed to slip empire’s bonds and
become free, and flourish. In that fierce little feliform, a parable of my
own people’s epic struggles.

When I finally made it back home to the Dominican Republic after 20 years’
absence, one of the first things I did was look for them. I traveled to
Azua, and for three days I waited. I just about burst into tears when a
mongoose finally darted out in front of the car I was in. Didn’t even
bother to stop and look at me.

My girlfriend craned her long neck. What in the world was that?

That was a mongoose, I said. Son guapo.
*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* | May
21, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-vti

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