Diaspora (By Soumya R)

The word diaspora was first largely used to show the “displacement” of Jews from Israel into exile into various countries and continents across the word. The word, diaspora is also used to indicate “spreading about” or to “scatter about.” It can also be used in the psychological sense of being “in between.”

A little after 1876, Diaspora studies is a field of academic studies by itself. Whether academic or otherwise the word today has become to largely depict displacement in a huge range of cultural colloquial application. A group of people who have largely settled down into a specific geographical location, homeland, move about to a host land. In the hostland, they yearn for the familiarity of the homeland. While they survive, struggle and adapt to the ways of the hostland, they learn new things to assimilate in order to belong to the hostland. When they return to the homeland, although there is a familiarity of the homeland, somewhere in them comes in a feeling of returning to hostland.
Some of the various fields of studies are Asian Diaspora, African Diaspora, European Diaspora.

USA is often referred to as a cultural melting point as people from all over the world try their chances at living there, thereby bringing in vibrant cultural intermingling. In a similar sense, the host of this session proposes that Bengaluru be called the melting pot city of India.

Some excerpts of writing that belong to the genre of Diasporic Literature

“Going home at night! It wasn’t often that I was on the river at night. I never liked it. I never felt in control. In the darkness of river and forest you could be sure only of what you could see — and even on a moonlight night you couldn’t see much. When you made a noise — dipped a paddle in the water — you heard yourself as though you were another person. The river and the forest were like presences, and much more powerful than you. You felt unprotected, an intruder … You felt the land taking you back to something that was familiar, something you had known at some time but had forgotten or ignored, but which was always there. You felt the land taking you back to what was there a hundred years ago, to what had been there always.”
― V.S. NaipaulA Bend in the River

“ wisdom is like a bottomless pond. You throw stones in and they sink into darkness and dissolve. Her eyes looking back do not reflect anything.
I think this to myself even though I love my daughter. She and I have shared the same body. There is a part of her mind that is a part of mine. But when she was born she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since. All her life, I have watched her as though from another shore.”
― Amy TanThe Joy Luck Club

“Memory’s truth, because memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else’s version more than his own.”
― Salman RushdieMidnight’s Children

“Do you love me, that’s all,” he said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”
It was the language again, I couldn’t use it because it wasn’t mine. He must have known what he meant but it was an imprecise word; the Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them, there ought to be as many for love.”
― Margaret AtwoodSurfacing

“You lived intensely with others, only to have them disappear overnight, since the shadow class was condemned to movement. The men left for other jobs, towns, got deported, returned home, changed names. Sometimes someone came popping around a corner again, or on the subway then they vanished again. Addresses, phone numbers did not hold. The emptiness Biju felt returned to him over and over, until eventually he made sure not to let friendships sink deep anymore.”
― Kiran DesaiThe Inheritance of Loss

Writing Exercise

Rules

1 To be written in first person.

2 Character and Dialogue -The character must belong nowhere and yet everywhere.

3 Vocabulary Use colloquial words and phrases in your dialogues

4 Application of Imagery is a must.

Break free. Because you can!

If you feel you are better off without a first person narrative in your writing, feel free to break all the rules and write whatever the hell you really want to write about. Although the topic is Diaspora, un-belonging and all that jazz, at WCB, you will belong because you write.

Post Writing: Kindly listen to the writers’ pieces and give them feedback with edit suggestions. Feedback mechanism is the backbone of WCB.

About Myself: I am Soumya Ramasamy. I was born and raised in Bengaluru. I speak Tamil at home. I lived with my dad and brother, and a dobermann called Sundu until marriage happened. I currently live with my husband, Karthik in Singapore.Academically I have a Masters Degree in English. Professionally I have been into teaching, editing at a newspaper house, did some public relations and had some intern time with a radio station. I used to blog at rasatimaani.wordpress.com I used to run my own Poetry event called Zero Budget Poetry. I currently blog at dragondraupadi.wordpress.com
Other than writing, I try my hand at cooking, washing dishes, doing the laundry, mehendi, painting, photography, reading. I love going on long drives on my activa. I did a solo trip once. As I keep swinging in several directions, I do pranayama, walking and Yoga to keep myself calm. Off late, I do a whole range of new activities with my husband. We go grocery shopping at midnight, attend bhajans and kacheris, watch Tamil movies and follow cricket together. Catch my smile when we meet at Write Club Bangalore.
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