Sunday 14 March 2010

The Visa to a Better Life

This week, Critical Literature Review presents Ayodele Morocco-Clarke's review of Thansanqa N. Ncube's StoryTime published short story titled "The Visa". Enjoy!

Almost everywhere one looks, the phrase ‘The world is a global village’ is bandied  about as if all barriers and borders which separate the countries that comprise the earth’s surface have withered away, leaving people with the freedom to roam freely in a boundary-less world. While this might be true in the cyber world, I need not point out that the same does not apply in the physical world. The restrictions placed by different sovereign countries upon entry into their national territory by aliens has had the effect of often barricading most of the planet’s underprivileged and/or not so privileged from exercising the right of free movement from one place to another. Citizens of most of the countries of the world have to apply for and be granted some form of visa or entry permit in order to travel to or through the territory of a country other than their own.

The story “The Visa” by Thansanqa N. Ncube follows a man who has fled from Zimbabwe as a result of an ever increasing economic crisis evidenced by hyper-inflation and instability in the country. Leaving behind a fiancée at home, he travels to the United Kingdom on a visitor’s visa with the intention of working illegally and saving enough money to bring his fiancée Sarudzo over to Britain. However, their plans have to be modified when the British government tightens immigration laws which result in fewer people successfully scaling the rigorous visa screening and entry clearance processes. Thus, the protagonist’s new goal is to save enough money from his wages to eventually return home to conduct the marriage of his dreams, extend their house back home and sustain the new family he and his bride will eventually raise.

After converting the visitor’s visa (he had initially entered the UK with) into a two year student’s visa, the protagonist continues to carry out the plan agreed with his fiancée back home. He phones her regularly and often sends money back home with the intention of returning to settle down with her. Unfortunately for Sarudzo, it is well known that even the best laid plans of men sometimes go awry, and the entry of the sophisticated Skhu into our protagonist’s life exposes him to a side of life to which he had hitherto been unaware of. This leads him to a crossroads in which he has to decide on who he will choose to carry on his future with.

The Visa is the type of story anyone who is even remotely aware of the nature of immigrant living in the UK would have encountered in some form of the other or at least heard about. The subterfuge employed by many economic migrants in a bid to set their foot on British soil is one that is well documented in the media and other literary treatise.

I found that the author let the story down with his poor editing of the work. Also, the author appears overly fond of the use of ellipses, whether or not they are appropriate in the telling of the story (another instance in which a good edit would have cleaned up the work suitably).

I further observed that the description of the conversion of the protagonist’s visa from that of a visitor to that of a student does not fall within the protocol adopted by the British Home Office which requires applicants to return to their home country to make that particular type of visa change.  Moreover, visitor-to-student visa conversions are not awarded within the UK to individuals whose visitor’s visas have expired. One may however excuse this on the ground of authorial, artistic or narrative license. There is also some confusion in the story regarding the expiration of the student visa. For example, in a narrative sentence immediately preceding that of Skhu, there is a contradiction of whether or not the protagonist has overstayed his welcome in the UK –

“…I cannot stay in this country and live like a fugitive. My visa is expiring, and I have to go, maybe I can try and apply for another one from home”

“Of course you know you will not get another visa, you have overstayed your student visa

However, the foregoing nevertheless, should you allow yourself not to be deterred by these shortcomings, this is quite an enjoyable story you are likely to appreciate as it relates to real issues relevant in today’s world.

[Ayodele Morocco-Clarke is a Nigerian lawyer and writer of mixed heritage who has a passion for literature. She is the editor of Critical Literature Review and her written works have appeared in Author Africa 2009, Hackwriters (a University of Portsmouth magazine), Sphere Literary MagazineStoryTimeAuthor-Me and on The Clarity of Night blog. She also has work forthcoming in  Mimi MagazineThe Anthology of Immigrant Writing (2010) and  African Roar [2010 short story anthology, co-published by Lion Press and StoryTime]. Ayodele hopes to publish an anthology of short fiction soon and is currently working on her first novel.]

No comments:

Post a Comment