Diasporic Feelings and Longing For Home

Topics: Homesickness

Human civilization has been witnessing different forms of migration in the different phases of its history. People migrate from one place to another within a country as well as move out of the country for various reasons like, economic opportunities, escaping the political turbulence, natural calamities, etc. Migration is most cases cannot be stopped. Among all the reasons, seeking better opportunities in the new land has been the prime reason for the migration of people. The recent estimates of various reports state that at the world level, both internal migrations within a country and international migration, especially from the developing and underdeveloped countries to the developed countries have risen in the recent decades.

It is also predicted that in the coming decades internal and international migration will rise.

The migration does not come alone. In the process of migration, people are displaced from their homes, homeland, and near, and dear ones. They lose the protection of their home and they struggle to retain the carried cultural traits of their homeland.

Especially in the case of international migration where people cross the border of a nation-state, land in an alien country, and form the diaspora community, the loss of homeland, near and dear ones, and the struggles to negotiate with the new land become more severe. Longing, belonging, the negotiation of space, nostalgia, and alone pervade the life of these diasporic people. These notions of the diasporic people have been portrayed beautifully by the diasporic writer, sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and other social scientists.

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Jaishree Misra is one such Indian diasporic literary writer who has very subtly presented these diasporic sensibilities in her literary writings.

This year we have decided to award scholarships to three people. I will read out their names and would request the three of them to stay back naturally,.. so that we can collect some more of their details…….. Anasuya Dutta… BhaskarLamba..and Janaki Maraar. (Misra 2000: 197).

Naturally, Janu feels elated about going to England and joiningfaraway the vast diaspora network. At the same time, she longs to be with her family in Kerala, Could I live a happy life in faraway England, knowing that my mother and grandmother had locked themselves up in their house of sorrow forevermore,? (Misra 2000: 203).

Those people who are in India after seeing other people from India working in various foreign countries desire to go abroad in search of a good job. They leave their homeland to which they belonged and long to go to a foreign country. Radhakrishnan (1996) speaks of diasporic location and space. The diasporic location is the space of the hyphen that tries to coordinate, within an evolving relationship, the Identity politics of one’s place of origin with that of one’s present home. (Radhakrishnan 1996: 14).

Longing is an intense desire, anticipating how to spend days, months, and years after which one can go to his homeland. It is an emotional aspect of a person that comes out with nostalgic feelings. There is a longing for dear ones when one is in a foreign country. There is the desire to be with family members, friends, and society. The members of the diaspora after leaving their homeland for various reasons bring out nostalgic feelings that make them long for their homeland. Jaishree Misra, the London-based Indian author writes in English about Indian society, traditions, and cultures. She lives in London and says, I like the mix of cultures, the mix of Languages, I like London because you don’t feel like a foreigner”. This multi-cultural background drives her not to belong anywhere rootless. She where says, “ruthlessness is not to be pitied, but an advantage, for a writer (Misra 2004).

It may be at home, but it may not exist as a physical domain. The dilemma for the diaspora is the exhibition of loyalty. A person belongs to his motherland at the same time he belongs to his adopted country. Expatriates fondly remember the place to which once they belonged. The expatriates who are in the diaspora need someplace where they can identify that they belongwhere. In the novel, Afterwards, Maya was in a dilemma, she was confused in her married life to experience the nature of her husband who had possessive behavior and suspected her chastity.

At this right time, Jaishree Misra scripts the arrival of Rahul Tiwari from England and makes him his neighbor in Kerala. A rich Non-Resident Indian (NRI), who is out from the diaspora community, had come to explore the musical instrument and Kerala, happens to meet Maya and smitten by her charming nature, was quietly acquainted with her. She uses this opportunity to tell him about her miserable condition. The latter event shows us that Maya and Rahul run away from Kerala along with Anjali to New Delhi and a few months later to England. She is longing to go out of her house, though she belongs to Kerala, her parents, and her husband. When she goes to England, she tries to make her own space among the other Indian diaspora. During her stay in England for about two and half years, she was longing to go to her parents’ place where once she belonged. After her death, Rahul becomes the voice of Maya for Anjali. He wants to see the space created by Maya would remember forever through Anjali. tops

Space is the time duration that expatriates stayed in foreign countries. It also means the time gap, position, and the years one spent outside of the native country. Space is physical, psychological, social, and cultural. The migratory population leaves their homeland with a lot of expectations. When they go to a foreign land, they have to struggle to make their own space. Here, it means making their property through hard work and prospering in the business activities that the diaspora people have chosen in the adopted land. Once they create their space, they want to secure that space with imaginative boundaries that would help them to bequeath to the coming generation. The members of diaspora communities want to return to their homeland, but the space that they have created in the adopted land does not allow them to fully repatriate themselves forever. This is the dilemma every diaspora person experiences during his stay in the Indian diaspora.

Identifying ‘Space’ is necessary for the members of various diaspora communities. The myth of immigrants’ desire to “return home” is a dream that he or she necessarily clings to, often as a way of coping in an alien world. Indian expatriate writers who reside in various foreign countries are in tune with the happenings in their homeland. This makes them write about India and the diaspora community in the adopted lands. They write about imaginary homelands that the population of diaspora always shows in their behavior while in foreign lands. These members have their own space in their adopted lands. That space should be fortified and preserved for coming generations. Diaspora always has a soft heart towards its homeland as well as towards the adopted land. The expatriate writers exploit these emotional feelings of diaspora communities and show them the miserable emotional status of minds in their novels.

Longing, belonging and space is quite central to the study of diaspora. In this chapter, an attempt has been made to conceptualize these three significant concepts. The chapter has been divided into various sections and subsections.

It is a natural tendency of human beings to shift from one place to another for many reasons. Moving or shifting of animals is probably restricted to in search of food and water. In the case of humans, the reasons are multifaceted due to unstated desires that they have. Human beings desire food, cloth, and shelter in the initial stages of their settlement in one place. They try to build a house in which they make homes for themselves that has love and affection for other members. Some members might travel to other countries in search of better jobs and higher education. These people miss the love and care very often that they used to get in their own houses. While giving his commentaries on ‘home’ Roberta Rubenstein speaks, “Not merely a physical structure or a geographical location, but always an emotional space…” (Rubenstein 2001: 1)

Many in the diaspora have not experienced the emotional space due to civil war or the policies of the adopted countries that do not welcome certain nationalities to share the space. Some countries are hostile toward the migrant population due to their origin, race, and religion. Modern democratic countries, though do not openly persecute the diaspora population, but indirectly they deprive certain benefits to diaspora communities due to various reasons (Rubenstein 2001: 24-25). Reading the literature on the homeland in the adopted countries makes people in diaspora more vulnerable to homesickness and this may lead to depression.

Many in diaspora shed silent tears while in the adopted country thinking about their near and dear ones in the homeland, ‘Home’ can never be visited because it exists as a fantasy, as the image’s place marker for a vision of personal (and cultural) re/union, encompassing both that which actually may have been experienced in the vanished past and that which never could have been. (Rubenstein 2001 164-165).

This explains that the diaspora members have their ‘homes’ which is a temporary shelter in their adopted land and the real ‘home’ is the homeland that they had left for various reasons. The diaspora members long for their ‘home’ and homeland. Rubenstein identifies that people in the diaspora feel the absence of their homeland and the feeling is more psychological than physical “With collective or communal associations, it generates a ‘cultural mourning’ that nostalgia attempts to repair….” (Rubenstein 2001: 5).

The natural tendency of human beings is to crave for their loved ones when they are away from their native lands. Thus, among the diaspora communities, there is a connection between the segregated people and their native land. Avtar Brah recognizes the bond that exists between diaspora communities and the adopted countries. He values the bond that the diaspora communities have built over the years when he refers to the diaspora and the homeland, “The concept of diaspora embodies a subtext of ‘home” (Brah 1996: 190).

Brah emphasizes that the “Home and belonging may be integral to the diasporic condition, but how, when, and in what form questions are apparent, or how they are addressed, is specific to the history of a particular diaspora” (Brah 1996: 193).

The psychological feeling of longing and belonging that human beings displayed in their early life have been made easier with the invention of electronic gadgets that bring people closer to their homeland, no matter how far they are placed. Nostalgic feeling as Malcolm Chase and Christopher Shaw observed among the diaspora population, Nostalgia involved a special way of being involved in the past: one had to be connected to the object of scrutiny, perhaps through kinship or through a broader feeling of identity. These were in some way my people and my present, therefore were bound up in their past. (Malcolm& Christopher 1989: 2).

Thus, feelings of longing and belonging as well as a craving to return to their homeland are always dear to various diaspora communities. When the nostalgic feeling surpasses that makes the migrant population think of their native land and wait patiently for that day when they can return to their homeland. This helps the diaspora communities to form various associations and keep their cultural activities alive for many years. The feeling of longing and belonging is further smoothened when the local population accepts the diaspora communities as their people.

The diaspora communities refer to ‘home’ that is not found in physical form, it is a mental feeling, that they have created in their imagination while in the adopted countries. Their ideas of belonging and longing for the adopted land and homeland make them for the time complacent which helps them to contribute to the growth of the adopted land. People normally relate themselves to a place where they have been staying for a long time. The diaspora communities keep working in different countries. Wherever they move and settle, they have a special attachment to that place and this emotional attachment makes them loyal to the local people. Though they belong to the adopted land they always long to see the native land that had given them all they wanted during their formative stages.

The word “space” has different connotations in different contexts. In its lexical meaning “space” refers to “The interval between two times, place at intervals, the unlimited expanse in which everything is located, etc.” (Collins dictionary 2002).

The above lexical definitions should remind the people in the long where he diaspora that they too have passed these ‘two times’’, the time of their departure from their native land and the time of their arrival at their adopted land. This can also mean, that after many years when the diaspora had made enough ‘space’ for itself and its community decides to visit its homeland.

In diaspora space means, it is the location where the diaspora community is put up. It may also mean the exact social position of the diaspora communities that they have worked to earn the goodwill of the local population and the government entities in the adopted lands. For instance, there are few serving and erstwhile presidents, prime ministers, cabinet ministers, was topwas-ranking civil servants, industrialists, etc. in the diaspora in different countries. They were no one in their homeland, but after migrating they have achieved something, which is worth mentioning. Space in the diaspora may also mean the mobility of a particular community, family, or individual. In the first place, a person leaves his home country and migrates to a foreign country. He may stay there for a few years and from there he may again migrate to another country. We have many examples in the diaspora, people who have left their homeland, migrated to England and from there they went to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and so on.

The novels of Jaishree Misra, Ancient Promises, and Afterwards revolve around two different women. The feminist views that are shown in creating space for themselves and their family in the land of their nativity and the adopted land could not escape the scrutiny of critics. Elizabeth Kalbfleisch speaks of the dual marginalization and underlines the importance of how the local population in an adopted land treats the gender bias, especially women who are equally responsible to create space along with their male counterparts. A stable association of diaspora communities in the adopted land will help to rebuff any move to dislodge members of a diaspora settlement in a particular region. She opines.

While home and homeland correlate in inviting ways, I wish to avoid – and dislodge- overly simplified binaries between the two concepts, such as public and private space, masculine and feminine, and Native and (white) non-native identities. (Kalbfleisch 2009).

Diaspora is blessed with talented girls and women. Some artists and writers write about the space, feminity, and identity among these diaspora women. In this sense, Elizabeth is justified when she refers to ‘public and private space’. Diaspora always with the help of women creates space in the home and space in its working environment. Women have an equal share while creating the space in adopted lands with contributions from their male counterparts.

Maya wasn’t able to explore her feminity in the space that she had created while in Kerala along with her husband. How could she be able to narrate her feelings to Rahul and run away from her native land to England along with Rahul only to make a new space for herself, Anjali,  and Rahul with her feminine characters that were were appreciated even by her neighbneighborsours?

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Diasporic Feelings and Longing For Home. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/diasporic-feelings-and-longing-for-home/

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