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Bundles of nostalgia

Diaspora or diasporic literature has become a popular topic among Sri Lankans within different contexts. A diaspora is a scattered population with a common origin in a smaller geographic area. The word can also refer to the movement of the population from its original homeland. There is always a crucial reason to such a group of people to migrate: an ethnic or religious conflict could be often a likely reason.

Diaspora Literature involves an idea of a homeland, a place from where the displacement occurs and narratives of harsh journeys undertaken on account of economic compulsions. Basically Diaspora is a minority community living in exile. Diaspora is the God's intentions for the people of Israel to be dispersed across the world. The Oxford English Dictionary here commences with Jewish History, mentioning only two types of dispersal: The "Jews living dispersed among the gentiles after the captivity" and The Jewish Christians residing outside the Palestine. The dispersal (initially) signifies the location of a fluid human autonomous space involving a complex set of negotiation and exchange between the nostalgia and desire for the Homeland and the making of a new home, adapting to the power, relationships between the minority and majority, being spokes persons for minority rights and their people back home and significantly transacting the Contact Zone - a space changed with the possibility of multiple challenges.

Diasporic literature catch attention often among readership as calling itself ‘diasporic’ adds an extra weight to a text. On the other hand, diasporic literature have stirred controversy many times including Salman Rushdie’s novels and readers seem to have a presumption that this text would be a smashing hit with something always new in it.

However, in the 1993 Edition Oxford's Dictionary we find a shorter definition of Diaspora. While still insisting on capitalization of the first letter, 'Diaspora' now also refers to 'anybody of people living outside their traditional homeland.

In the tradition of indo-Christian the fall of Satan from the heaven and humankind's separation from the Garden of Eden, metaphorically the separation from God constitute diasporic situations. Etymologically, 'Diaspora' with its connotative political weight is drawn from Greek meaning to disperse and signifies a voluntary or forcible movement of the people from the homeland into new regions.

Though in the age of technological advancement which has made the traveling easier and the distance shorter so the term Diaspora has lost its original connotation, yet simultaneously it has also emerged in another form healthier than the former. At first, it is concerned with human beings attached to the homelands. Their sense of yearning for the homeland, a curious attachment to its traditions, religions and languages give birth to diasporic literature which is primarily concerned with the individual's or community's attachment to the homeland.

As Rushdie once penned the migrant arrives 'unstuck from more than land he runs from pillar to post crossing the boundaries of time, memory and the history carrying 'bundles and boxes' always with them with the vision and dreams of returning homeland as and when likes and finds fit to return. Although, it is an axiomatic truth that his dreams are futile and it would not be possible to return to the homeland is 'metaphorical'. The longing for the homeland is countered by the desire to belong to the new home, so the migrant remains a creature of the edge, 'the peripheral man'. According to Naipaul the Indians are well aware that their journey to Trinidad 'had been final' but these tensions and throes remain a recurring theme in the Diasporic Literature. And, for me, migrant or diasporic literature has always been a window to see an outer world.