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The Anxiety of Alienation: Observing ‘Trauma’ and ‘Exile Blues’ of Indian Diaspora in Select Poems of Agha Shahid Ali

Agha Shahid Ali is one of the most celebrated modern poets of Indian diaspora whose poetry echoes the sense of trauma, loss of ‘home’ and identity and deals with major concerns of dislocation, fragmentation from ancestry, nostalgia, and rootlessness.The sense of alienation is more evident in the works of diaspora writers who are constantly caught up between the cultural spaces of the ‘host’ land and creating a hyphenated identity. The diasporic self finds comfort only in memory rather than the existing contemporary realities hurtful to the ‘exiled’ individual and find themselves possessing a fueling desire to go back to their homeland. Trauma is a response of a distressing event that affects an individual’s ability to cope with life situations and triggers certain traumatic markers.The ‘trauma’ of exile is a psychological phenomenon while the geographical dislocation is more of a physical one. The paper is an attempt to observe the trauma question and exilic state of the diasporic subject in Ali’s poetry and their attempt to live in the ‘host’ landthrough disintegration from the familiarity of the ‘native’ homeland.The paper seeks to observe how Ali’s poetry is charged with his multicultural hyphenated identity- rendering him a nameless entity. His separation from nativity and ancestral roots showcases the anguish, dilemma triggered in the immigrant in varying degrees and progression of trauma in three select poems- “Postcard from Kashmir”, “Snowmen”and “Cracked Portraits”.

Keywords: cultural alienation, nostalgia

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