Revisions, reroutings and return: Reversing the teleology of diaspora in Sunetra Gupta’s Memories of Rain

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Abstract

There is significant agreement amongst theorists of diaspora and migration that the teleology of diaspora and a search for home is necessarily linear. Vijay Mishra writes about 'the hybrid experience of diaspora people for whom an engineered return to a purist condition is a contradiction in terms' (Mishra, 421) and Avtar Brah argues that home for diasporic people is 'a mythic place of desire' and therefore it is 'a place of no return.' (Brah, 192) William Safran describes the "return' of most diasporas as 'a largely eschatological concept' that is used 'to make life more tolerable by holding out a utopia - or eutopia - that stands in contrast to the perceived dystopia in which actual life is lived.' (Safran, 194) Despite such agreement against the myth of return, in Sunetra Gupta's novel, Memories of Rain, we see the protagonist returning to the city she had left ten years ago. For Moni a spiritual return to her originary home is not enough. She must return in body to Calcutta, thus making her journey a circular rather than a linear one. In this article I will examine the reasons for and implications of Moni's return to the homeland after her rejection of the space of diaspora. I consider this return and reversal of diaspora teleology as a move that unsettles and seriously disturbs dichotomies of colonialist and heterosexual desire that are firmly established earlier in the novel. Gupta's novel sets up a series of binary oppositions, the incompatibility of which ultimately lead to Moni's fragmentation and inability to form a diasporic identity for herself. Copyright © 2009 The Open Humanities Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalPostcolonial Text
Volume5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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Teleology
Diaspora
Dystopia
Binary Opposition
Utopia
Dichotomy
Colonialist
Fragmentation
Eschatology
Theorists
Purist
Journey
Rejection
Protagonist
Homeland

Citation

Banerjee, B. (2009). Revisions, reroutings and return: Reversing the teleology of diaspora in Sunetra Gupta’s Memories of Rain. Postcolonial Text, 5(2), 1-15.

Keywords

  • Diaspora
  • Return
  • Reversal
  • Identity
  • Fragmentation