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Themes of displacement, dislocation in contemporary Indian literature

Contemporary Indian writing in English upholds the themes of diaspora, dislocation, alienation, loneliness, caste and identity crisis. Written in the post colonialism scenario, it revolves around situations, problems of identity and dislocation of migrants. Sometimes it is written against the backdrop of partition, how generations later move on, the political scenario which threaten their existence, their reactions and actions as a result of it and their journey of emotional upheavals, old wounds which become a part of their memories and the choices they make and the personality they exhibit as a result of it. The books do not necessarily depict a journey of their psychological healing but it just presents a journey, physical, mental or emotional of such a character in the practical world.

JhumpaLahiri’s ‘Lowland’ deals with a similar context. There is an atmosphere of political unrest with Naxalism threatening the peace and security of Kolkata. The story begins with the life of two intelligent brothers, one of who gets attracted to the Naxalite movement and as a result, loses his life for the same.The other brother, who migrates to US, takes his brother’s pregnant widow with him to give her a new life. However, he feels a sense of loneliness and displacement. He still cannot forget the’ Lowland’, his brother or his parents. His wife Bela gives birth to a girl but her presence reminds her of her dead husband, her painful past, the memory of which she is trying to erase and her marriage to his brother, which was her only escape route from the clutches of her in laws and the society. Thus these themes have been brought out well in her book.

Her previous book ’Namesake’ also deals with the theme of identity crisis. Gogol, a kid born to Indian parents settled abroad struggles to survive with his name. While his parents struggle to retain their ‘Indianness,’ he feels a sense of dislocation.

Indianness is a cultural construct. It creates in a being a sense of rootedness, it becomes a part of their identity. To go to another country an embrace their culture creates a sense of uprootedness, a sense of displacement which creates loneliness. Such cultural diversities are frequently experienced by people due to the large population of migrants comprising students and workers to the West. These find way in literature and films as this is today’s reality. Thus contemporary Indian writing In English gives a sneak peek into the lives of modern Indians.

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