Memory as Looking Glass: Reading Culture in Anita Rau Badami's Tamarind Mem
Anita Rau Badami is an Indo-Canadian Diaspora writer. She has written four novels which deal with intricacies of family dynamics, collision of cultures, search for individuality and the aftermath of immigration. Her novel Tamarind Mem depicts the bond between a sharp-tongued mother and tender-hearted daughter who have two different perspectives of the past due to cultural restriction.It shows how the characters are hanging in the trope of nostalgia. Kamini is a first generation Indian immigrant woman who migrates to Canada. Her mother, Saroja is nicknamed "Tamarind Mem" because of her caustic tongue, like sour fruit of Tamarind tree. The novel explores the multidimensional kaleidoscopic contrast between women belonging to three generations - Putti Ajji, Saroja, and Kamini while navigating through their dreams and disappointments. The cultural clash and problems of immigration is highlighted through different incidents. The paper focuses on how the characters struggle in the casket of a rule-bound life with time bound traditions and cultures while journeying through the maze of their selves with the tropes of memory, personal impressions and nostalgia. Highlighting how the characters feel about their motherland, the paper further explicates the strong feeling of rootlessness and the perennial struggle to accept a hyphenated identity that in turn leaves the entire immigration experience a traumatic one.
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