Analyze the novel Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? by Anita Badami in relation to the Indian diaspora.

In Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? Badami writes about several events that are key to the narrative of the Indian diaspora, like the Komogata Maru incident and Air India Flight 182. She also writes about complex female characters whose internal struggles reflect the long-term impacts of the diaspora on people’s identities and relationships.

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Anita Badami’s book Can You Hear the Nightbird Call ? explores many events and ideas related to the Indian diaspora. It is centered on the stories of three Indian women: Bibi-ji, Leela, and Nimmo. Their internal struggles and often tragic experiences all demonstrate the impacts of the diaspora on people's...

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Anita Badami’s book Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? explores many events and ideas related to the Indian diaspora. It is centered on the stories of three Indian women: Bibi-ji, Leela, and Nimmo. Their internal struggles and often tragic experiences all demonstrate the impacts of the diaspora on people's relationships with themselves and others.

Badami features real events that were key moments in the lives of people from India, and especially people who have emigrated from India. For instance, she writes about a ship called Komagata Maru, which hundreds of people from British India tried to use to immigrate to Canada. They were not allowed into Canada and forced to return in what is considered a blatant act of discrimination. When they returned, British police killed nineteen passengers. Vijay Mishra, a notable scholar on diasporas, called the Komagata Maru incident a “traumatic sign in the diasporic imaginary of the Canadian (East) Indian.” He also called it a “metaphorical trope that acts as the glue to diasporic narratives.” The event became a defining part of the cultural memory of Indians who have moved to other places. The fact that Badami opens with the story of Harjot Singh on this ship thus immediately centers her text on the complex, traumatic history of the Indian diasporic imaginary. Badami also writes about Leela taking Air India Flight 182, which was deliberately bombed and exploded off the coast of Ireland in 1985. As Leela gets on the flight she is beginning to come to terms with feeling at home in Vancouver. The timing of this realization emphasizes how while the experience of the Indian diaspora includes internal conflicts over assimilation, it also includes violence and trauma.

While Badami writes about crucial events that relate her text to the Indian diaspora, she uses characterization to explore the complexities of the diasporic experience. For instance, consider how all three of the women struggle to find a place they feel truly settled. Bibi-ji for example feels guilty that her sister was left behind and is frustrated that she cannot have a child. However, when she ends up creating the restaurant Dehli Junction, it becomes a key hub of the Indo-Canadian community in Vancouver. In a way, it is a home for the community that serves to preserve their cultural memory and maintain a sense of connection among community members. These sort of places gradually develop as a result of many diasporas, but they are especially important after diasporas as large as the Indian one. By including the restaurant in the text Badami explores the importance of solidarity among those who are separated from their homeland.

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