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Mourning for the (M)otherland: “The Virtual Space of Spectrality” in Ginu Kamani’s “Just Between Indians”

Bahareh Bahmanpour1 & Amir Ali Nojumian2

1PhD in English Literature, Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch (IAUCTB), Tehran, Iran, b_bahmanpour@iau-tnb.ac.ir, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4971-6486

2Associate Professor of English Literature, Shahid Beheshti University (SBU), Tehran, Iran, amiran35@hotmail.com

  Volume 10, Number 3, 2018 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v10n3.06

Received August 15, 2018; Revised August 28, 2018: Accepted October 27, 2018; Published October 27, 2018.

 

Abstract

The present article is based on the major premise that the loss of a homeland (in the present case, Mother India) gives rise to such a long complicated mourning process that not only the first-generation diasporic subjects but also their second-generation offspring are afflicted by the infection of the original wound of departure. Synthesizing the trope of departure-as-death (a trope used here to compare the original departure from the motherland to a psychological death of a kind) and the trope of the dead mother (a trope used here to compare the dead-yet-living motherland and its cultural markers to the haunting phantom of a dead-yet-living biological mother), the paper argues that the diasporic subjectivity (in the present case, the Indian diasporic subjectivity) is a site at which a dialectic struggle between the two contending forces of the metaphoric death of the motherland and the constant desire for her is re-enacted. It is this same struggle, the present article claims, that is best illustrated in Ginu Kamani’s “Just Between Indians,” the penultimate story of her 1995 debut collection of short fiction Junglee Girl. As a story written by a second-generation Indian diasporic woman writer, “Just Between Indians” highlights the haunting quality of the absence/presence of Mother India in the lives of the second-generation diasporic subjects. Exploiting Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok’s notion of “the exquisite corpse” within a diasporic context, this article then not only throws into sharp relief the representational possibilities that “the virtual space of spectrality” has to offer for the literary signification of the trauma of displacement (or the diasporic trauma), but also brings to the fore the therapeutic and liberating force of the trope of the return of the dead mother. Creating an ethical space which can facilitate embracing the dead-yet-living (m)otherland on its own terms, such a trope helps both in re-constructing the desire for the homeland and in fulfilling a rather belated process of grieving for an apparently irremediable loss.

Keywords: Diaspora, Trauma of Displacement, Spectrality, Exquisite Corpse, Abraham and Torok, Ginu Kamani.