The novel “Welcome Home: Lessons in Saying Goodbye” written by Julia Yeow regales the stories of several Malaysians migrating to foreign lands. In every chapter, she also focuses on the different lessons that she herself has learned about emigration as she moved to Australia.
Yeow has perfectly portrayed the ups and downs of migration, and did not sugarcoat the bitterness involved in making the tough decision to move away. From the dreary sense of loneliness to the humbling lowering of one’s expectations about emigration, Julia captures the true essence of the emotional battle one faces while restarting their life elsewhere.
With over a million Malaysians living overseas, according to the World Bank’s “Malaysia Economic Monitor” in 2010, Yeow ensured that people from different backgrounds and with differing opinions were heard. The novel includes migration stories from Malaysians who’ve moved to Australia, Singapore, the US, and New Zealand, giving the readers a full, complete view on the emotional, financial, and political struggles people face while moving away.
Yeow didn’t shy away from criticising her homeland’s shortcomings, from racial discrimination to corruption within the political realm. She frankly portrayed how political leaders such as former prime minister Najib Razak and former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi have showcased their disdain towards emigration, and how that contributed to the disparaged reputation of migration as a whole.
She also reiterates how she grappled with the sense of guilt and doubt of leaving Malaysia, and “giving up on her home”. However, Yeow was able to counter this notion by telling her readers that you can still be patriotic from afar, and that everyone’s journey is different.
Yeow didn’t forget to include the privilege which locals enjoy in their own country, and how one of the biggest struggles migrants face is having that privilege stripped away from them. Such was the case for Allan, who was a former investment banker in Malaysia, and how he became a school janitor in New Zealand. This whole experience was humbling for Allan, as it opened his eyes to the harsh reality of migration, and how it isn’t all that glamorous for expatriates.
Welcome Home clearly depicts what it’s like to find a new home while still keeping your patriotism intact for your old home. How your old life acts as the building blocks to your new one. It depicts the reality of migration, and the sacrifices that have to be made in order to start anew. This concise novel acts as a guiding light to those who plan on migrating, and an ode to those who have migrated already. In less than a hundred pages, Welcome Home exposes its readers to the raw and sensitive side of moving away from your home, and how to deal with the sense of loss, while still remaining hopeful for a brighter future.
Interested readers can purchase the novel on this site: https://www.gerakbudaya.com/welcome-home-lessons-in-saying-goodbye
By Nabilah Hassan