A Home in Motion: Chronicling the History of Migration through the Lens of a Novel and a Life
Humans, since the dawn of civilization, have always longed for an address- a place called ‘Home’. It has been recognized as a basic human necessity. Thus, the place we belong to gives us a sense of belonging and identity. Everyone attempts to gain an identity card which reflects the information of a person’s belonging which is seen as an essential psychological element providing a sense of attainment to an individual. Everybody in the world belongs somewhere. Although people are usually assumed to belong to a particular place or region through their physical appearance or based on ethno-linguistic affinity. For example, people with yellow skin and black hair would be judged as Asian. However, the present world is a world in motion where people are in constant movement owing to a host of social, political as well as economic reasons. Therefore, we may realize that man or woman is not simply a physical creature but mostly shaped by relationships, be they social, cultural, environmental, or others. The process by which people judge others on appearance is an expression of social and cultural relationships, as they are defining ‘other’ as different from themselves. The influence that a place imposes on an individual’s identity is one of those relationships, and it constitutes part of the individual’s selfhood.
The present work chronicles the life and history of a community which has seen perpetual displacement for a long time- both due to natural as well as man man-made reasons. The work tries to understand the sense of possession and dispossession by deciphering fictional along with the nonfictional real-life story. For the purpose of study, the authors have taken the Sahitya Academy Award-winning novel ‘Brahmaputra or Akhe Pakhe’ (Brahmaputra ko Chaeu Chau in Nepali) by Padmashree Lil Bahadur Chetri, which chronicles the struggle of early migrants into the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam. Along with it, the authors have also looked into the story of Ms. Indramaya Basnet (name changed) and her journey across three nations and transformation to Mrs. Janmoni Devi (name changed)- a tale of quest for permanent identity and address. The work is also significant from the point of impact of migration on women who are mostly absent from studies related to migration in general and Nepali migration into Assam in particular. The study takes into account the changing socio-political landscape of the region with the imposition of National Registrar of Citizenship (NRC) and its impact on the settler population.
Keywords: home, identity, movement, displacement, Brahmaputra, NRC.