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 from 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 pervadingpervade 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.
Jaishree Misra is one such Indian diasporic literary writer who has very subtly presented these diasporic sensibilities in her literary writings. In her novel, Ancient Promises, one finds that the protagonist Janu was eager to migrate to England for a university course. Another important reason for the migration of people is going for higher studies. Janu wins a scholarship,
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 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 joining 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 says, “ruthlessness is not to be pitied, but an advantage, for a writer (Misra 2004).
Belonging could be emotional, psychological, and socio-cultural Naturally, hershe to a place, the place to which one belongs. It may be at home, but it may not exist as a physical domain. The dilemma for the diaspora here 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 belong. 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 another 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.
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 expectation 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 diasporthe a community. 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 the unsatiated 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 the 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).
Diaspora culturally belongs to its homeland, but due to unavoidable conditions reaches foreign countries and makes the land an adopted land. It longs to see its homeland.
The people in the diaspora feel the brunt of infrequent violence that is unleashed by a few ethnic nationalities who gain attention from the governments of adopted countries. This makes the diaspora communities vulnerable, but they are helpless due to the lack of help and support from their homeland as well as the local population. This phase is temporary, with the assimilation and acculturation in the long run the diaspora people have the opportunity to be integrated init into the adopted land. Rubenstein calls this “the presence of absence” (Rubenstein 2001: 5) which can be seen by those diaspora communities who are far away from their homeland. Moral support from the home country would have hastened the assimilation process in the adopted countries.
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 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 mental trauma that these diaspora communities undergo in their exile has shown in the degeneration of their ability to work for many years. They silently suffer and long to see their family members. Brah further elucidates that the people in diaspora may long for the homeland while in the adopted land, “Experience of social exclusions may prevent public proclamations of the place as home” (Brah 1996: 193).
However, of late, in history that we have evidence to show that diaspora communities make attempts to reach out to their dear ones in the homeland. Various communities in the diaspora have started negotiations with their homeland t secure their children’s future and make to be able to reach their homeland.
Many research institutions are increasingly showing interest in the diaspor studies. These research institutions deal with a diaspora that is spread across the globe and try to ascertain people’s opinions on longing for their homeland, though they belong to their adopted countries and t their native land. The dilemma among these diaspora communities is displayed in their hesitation to invest more in the adopted land and send the remittances to their native land to which they belong.
The psychological feeling of longing and belonging that human beings displayed in their early life makesmakemcravingske cravings have broader been made easier with the invention of electronic gadgets that bring people closer to their homeland, no matter how far they are placed. The nostalgic feeling broaderMalcolm 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 a makes craving 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 makescraving to return to their homeland are always dear to various diaspora communities. When the nostalgic feeling surpasses that makes the migrant population thinks of their native land and waits 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 t be 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 their diasporathediaspora that they too have passed these ‘two times’’, the time of their departure from their native land, and tithe me of their arrival at adopted land. This can also mean that after, 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, the top-ranking the civirankingl 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 diaspora may also mean the mobility of a particular community, family, or individualsindividual. 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 members of the diaspora that have created a space for themselves always engage in the nostalgic feeling. These diaspora members try to solidify the space by erecting imaginative boundaries and at the same time, they try to preserve nostalgic feelings as long as they are in the adopted lands. Rubenstein further notes “The presence of absence: an absence that continues to occupy a palpable emotional space” (Rubenstein 2001: 5).
This emotional ‘space’ is deprived for some diaspora communities in their adopted land. How does the labordiasporalabor diaspora react to the atrocities committed by the native people against tlaboardaboard labordiasporalaborindividuals individual diaspora labor, earning and making a ‘space’ for themselves in the form of buying a house, orchard, plantations, resorts, an and other immovable property?
Diaspora communities are very much prone to identify crises the migrant in their land of adoption. The space that they had in their native land haunts them very often. The space that they have created in their adopted land may not be permanent, it is in the transitory period, once they leave their adopted lands for good, they would show the symptoms of nostalgia for the space that they had created in their adopted lads with great difficulty even withstanding hostility from the native dwellers. Akhil Gupta, while dealing with diaspora and migration, writes, “Remembered places have often served as symbolic anchors of community for dispersed people’ (Gupta & James 1997: 30)
Every expatriate in the diaspora thinks of the place where he lived and worked in a foreign land. The home that he had made, the friends that he had, and, the support and encouragement that he had got from the community were always becoming points of cherishing and not necessarily nightmares. He never speaks ill about the adopted land that once helped him to earn well, save and send the remittances to his homeland. Over the years, the diaspora communities have experienced territorial belonging that gave them an identity of their generation. It is a fact that in the adopted lands, very often, one finds that, the migrant population may not be in a position to display their caste, religion or ethnicity because they have to work and send space remittancesgoal every month. When earning and creating a space becomes the main goal, then petty issues will not surmount the diaspora identity.