This paper explores on the literature of the exile and diaspora, their imagination within the alienation from their native culture, their struggles, perceptions, and their confrontations with an another culture etc. Tamilians had migrated into several parts of the world; but major migrations occurred towards Srilanka and Malaysia. The people from these places in fact had immensely contributed to the Tamil literary hemisphere despite of the political, economic and social distinctions from the mother culture. The quest for self- identity(suya adayalam) and Tamil identity (tamizh adayalam) is in jeopardy. Perhaps this juxtaposition of identities help in creating distinguished identity, one that is intrigued by the mixed cultural experience and heritage. The paper also explores on the life of the people in those migrated areas of Srilanka and the reflection of their lives in the culture.
KEYWORDS: Diaspora, Tamil, identity, displacement, migration, multiculturalism.
The collective self-identification of a diaspora as a distinct community in a triadic relationship with host society and home society also has political implications. Collectively, the diaspora community is strategically positioned to engage in both immigrant politics (say, to better its situation within the host society) and homeland politics (say, to better the situation in the land left behind). The latter, a form of “translocal” political involvement, has come to be labeled as ‘long-distance nationalism’ (Anderson, 1998) or ‘diaspora nationalism. (ibid. p.496)
These themes are perhaps more relevant today than ever as there is a growing relevance in the study of diaspora and especially of that of Tamil literary oeuvre. The writings of this genre are rising to the point that it explores the scope and exponents of one’s true identity that is being questioned. One of the eminent writers, V.N. Giridharan showcases the lives of Srilankan people through his short stories. His exploration into the effects of asylum-seeking as well as immigration in Canada and the most vital and cherished components of traditional Tamil culture and Tamil homeland of Sri Lanka had received international attributions. His books discusses on the consciousness of linkages within the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora so that, despite being numerically small and geographically dispersed, it has emerged as a vocal and influential force in shaping political developments in Sri Lanka. The diaspora’s economic, cultural, and political importance in relation to the Tamil community in Sri Lanka has also increased. (p. 496)
V.N. Giridharan reveals the altered fibre of a community that has tried to adhere rigidly to the traditional ideals of an idealized Tamil culture in a North American nation that physically serves as home, yet remains insistently alien. Recognizing the ambiguity of the boundaries of diaspora, he presents the plight of the diaspora which cannot still feel a homeland as a place that has to be imagined by nurturing a sense of communal distinctiveness, socially though not geographically. Under these circumstances, the imagination of “home”, however, does not have to take the shape of a particular community rooted in a particular sort of place, whereas modernist theories of nation conceptualize nations as a particular community rooted in a specific place, geography, or physical setting (Billig 1995).
Whenever the homeland people who have their relatives and friends in the immigrated countries contact them over the phone or letter, the immigrants never fail to express emptiness, a sense of boredom resulting from the mechanized life style and a reservation to mingle with the host community resisting assimilation into their socio-cultural framework. Though they express a yearning to be in their mother land within their familiar social and physical setting, their priority for personal, political and economic security lures them to settle in these new lands.
The long-hour monotonous odd jobs and labours do not satisfy their fundamental longings for socio-cultural identity. They are not able to find themselves a political identity in their host countries. These are the identities which can give fulfilment and complete meaning to their personal and social life. As a result, their social conscience pushes them to see a wide gap Under these circumstances, the imagination of “home” and “identity”, however, does not have to take the shape of a particular community rooted in a particular sort of place, whereas modernist theories of nation conceptualize nations as a particular community rooted in a specific place, geography, or physical setting; transcending to the conflict between what they feel as a ‘freedom’ in their land and what their kith and kin feel as a “freedom” in the homeland. This gap creates a vacuum in life in the west and instils a thrust to practice a long distance nationalism and culture in their host land. It also persuades them to support the political struggle financially and instils in them a moral commitment to the political resistance in their homeland.
Given its size and strategic location, Sri Lanka has been more open to the world and international flows of goods, people and ideas than some of its larger and more land-locked neighbours. While from ancient times to the present, Theravada Buddhism was carried by monks from Sri Lanka along the “Sea Silk Route”, travellers, visitors and colonisers were to leave behind an island of hybrid histories and ambivalent legacies. The island’s people and cultures were romanticised in colonial anthropological literature that dwelt extensively on the cultural diversity of its inhabitants and their harmonious coexistence − until the program of July 1983, which sharply divided the island’s two dominant communities and precipitated an unprecedented outflow of refugees. The post-1983 mass migration gave rise to the most clearly articulated Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora identity. Recent studies of the Sri Lankan diaspora have focused primarily on migration during the past 30 years of conflict between the state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which resulted in a large flow of refugees to all parts of the world. Some families have been divided and live in multiple continents. However, prior to this conflict-induced displacement and migration, there were earlier waves of migration from the island during the colonial and early post-colonial period. During the conflict between the government and the Marxist-Maoist Janatha Vimukthi Peremuna in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a refugee exodus from southern Sri Lanka, particularly to London. More recently, a large number of women and men have found employment in the Middle East and constitute transnational communities. The notion of “diaspora” may be broadly defined to signify not only the “scattering of people” due to political persecution (as in the original use of the term in the Jewish tradition), but also the emergence of transnational communities and the economic and socio-cultural dynamics of migration. Conflict-induced migration and economic migration has often merged and blurred the distinction between economic migrants and refugees. In recent times, the Sri Lankan diaspora has grown and been engaged with post-colonial conflicts and, increasingly, reconstruction and development in the homeland. Reclaiming a Multicultural Diaspora for Peace and Reconciliation In the aftermath of almost 30 years of armed conflict between the state and the LTTE, which has generated and accelerated waves of migration from Sri Lanka and fractured a multicultural social fabric that was once famed for the peaceful coexistence of diverse faiths and cultures, the diaspora metaphor may be ‘good to think with’. Diaspora also connotes the mixing and mingling of cultures, peoples, histories and the pluralityof identity. It signals multiculturalism and hybridity while connoting cultural, religious and historical ties to Sri Lanka, Ceylon, Taprobane and Serendip (from which the English word serendipity originates), as the island has been known at different times to different trading communities that settled there. The study and understanding of the Sri Lankan diaspora may serve to pluralise history and identity and, indeed, the history of identity in Sri Lanka beyond the confrontational ethno-nationalist identity politics that was consolidated in the recent armed conflict. It may provide a conceptual frame for the accommodation of cultural diversity and pluralism and reclaiming Sri Lanka’s multicultural past.
Romesh Gunesekara a Sri Lankan born British author keeps revisiting his home country through his poems, novels and short stories. In an interview to the Gaurdian he says, I have always written out of an urgency… because, any minute, everything can fall apart – including life.‖  When asked as to why his stories were always set in Sri Lanka he replies, ―One reason the stories have tended to go back to that setting is my desire to understand violence… It could as easily be Nazi Germany or Rwanda, But Sri Lanka is the one.‖ Further down in the interview when talking of his novel, ‘The Match’ he says that Sri Lankan ethnic divides are ‗all manufactured‘ he also says that when goes down the history they are not deep rooted and are infact intermingled. He aimed to create a fictional and imaginative Sri Lanka through his words and adds that, ―It doesn‘t matter to me if it corresponds with reality.‖ 
In an interview with Ka Bradley in Granta to the Magazine of New Writing Gunesekara speaks of the protagonist of his novel Noontide Toll. Vasantha a taxi driver finds himself in a ―world where people are fundamentally talkative but sometimes too frightened to speak, or prone to forgetfulness. The scenario being post war it is easy to comprehend as to why people were afraid. The uncertainty ‘lulls over them and their hesitation to participate in the reconciliation are only obvious. Gunesekara recollects the words of a famous Sri Lankan journalist in the 1950s, long before the recent war began but at a time when trouble was brewing, called Ceylon (as it was then) the land of amnesia‘.
Jean Arasanayagam has a rich contribution to the Anglophone Sri Lankan literature. Born of Dutch Burgher parents and married to a Tamil, she offers insights as to what it is to be the other in a race conscious hyper pseudo society. Through her poems and short stories she keeps reassuring the fact that she shares a common heritage in the Island Nation. She brings in the complexities that are involved in feminine identity in a conflict zone. The domestic alienation by her in-laws who did not appreciate their son marrying a lady of a different ethnic background, the larger picture of the conflict zone and the ‗displacement faced by a minority citizen‘ are the overpowering themes one can find in her works.
We have to record the history of our times. Our personal histories are related to the cataclysmic events that have swept away our dislocated lives. Memory must not be effaced. What we have learnt, what we have experienced in these camps are the lessons of humanity, a shared humanity.‖ 
She says talking of the refugee camps and the displacement of people during the war. Speaking of the polarisation of the relationships between the Sinhalese and Tamils she notes Suspicion, Alienation and Hostility. All these things became a part of society here. Sge thought of those who died in holocaust here, while nature, undisturbed, proliferated. It was happening that should never be erased from living memory. It was the moment of the loss of humanity. Bestiality was rampant. This was seen in the looting, burning, rape, killing. We were all de-humanized Answering to a question on search of her identity, she says, ‘Hybridity’ of her ancestral roots and its transplantation in the indigenous roots of Sri Lanka gives her a strong feeling of belonging here and yet being part of there.‘ This is the collective voice of a number of people in Sri Lanka. While the country is busy demarking the boundaries and divides between Tamils and Sinhalese, what happens to those who were engaged in inter-ethnic relationships and marriages are they being ‘assimilated’ or are they being ‘alienated’. Sections of literature tell us of how families have disowned their children who chose to marry the ‘other’. And most of them sought refugee off shores as they were sceptical of their future in the Island Nation.
Vasugi. V. Ganeshananthan the Sri Lankan American fiction writer and journalist in her famous novel Love Marriage (2008) gives voice to the hundreds of Diasporic couples and individuals who despite the geographical distance from the war zones of Sri Lanka face the turbulence in their domestic lives when married to the opponent ethnic group. In a review of her novel Salil Tripathi remarks that the story, ―mixes up the sequence, tossing before the reader shards of memories which look like pieces of broken bangles. But when we look at those broken bangles through her kaleidoscope, her twisting of the lens reveals patterns that make it possible to understand aspects of the conflict, even if the horrors cannot be excused.
Nothing is simple about the Sri Lankan conflict, in which (as the writer Suketu Mehta pointed out to me) nobody accuses Muslims of fanaticism, Hindus are suicide bombers, and Buddhists can be brutal. A global terrorism study found that Muslims did not lead the league table of suicide bombers; the Tamil Tigers did. 
There has been the temptation in some quarters to dismiss the seminal work as some sort of an apology for the Tamils. To fall for this easy line of thinking would in quite unsophisticed for Subramanian also records the fashion in which the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam went about its business in the name of achieving the stated objectives. Ten years, I calculate to myself. That was long it had taken for the Tigers to go from killing out of perceived necessity to killing for sport‘ he has said in his well researched book going to talk about the rise and fall of the LTTE chieftain Velupillai Prabhakaran, his massive operation, audacity to run a government within a government, large scale destruction, lack of compassion leaves us speechless.The author has made the argument that even as the Tamils were tormented enough in being denied their identity and sense of belonging, they were also traumatised by the tactics of an organisation that they looked up to.
And this would naturally bring forth the debate on whether the LTTE lost the ―war‖ even before its final conclusion in 2009. And scholars like Subramaniam will make the point that the LTTE lost the war much before 2009 when they lost the faith of the Tamils themselves. By the time the Tamils, the author makes the point, had realized that their struggle for an identity was misrepresentated a decade had passed by and enough damage was done. They were sandwiched between the Tigers and the Lions. Inter-twined with the concept for the searching identity is that of the Displacement of the Tamils–people constantly running for their lives, either by themselves or being chased by both parties. To live in this bedlam, where nothing was constant, one had no clue of the whereabouts of the rest of the family, or safety of the kith and kin.
Subramanian‘s work is not just an addition to the Literature on immigration, identity and social change for This Divided Island has also been seen as another brilliant contribution to media and the ethnic conflict as it throws light on the tremendous pressures faced by Sri Lankan media outlets to survive in the course of the conflict journalists were intimidated, violated, abducted and at times killed. Press offices were set on fire and the whole world was watching this unable to do anything. In End Games he records the reconstruction of the entire nation, where the Rajapaksa government is trying its best to scrub clean of all evidences, challenging the cries and screams of humanitarian voices, rewriting history and archaeology. The contribution of authors like Subramanian brings about mixed emotions. Stories enthral, entertain, and educate. Questions of Identity‘that became critical during war were seen through the literature sections and the Social Change that constituted the post – war Sri Lanka highlighting the Triumphantalism‘, Majoritarianism’ and ‘National Reconciliation‘ from the works of these authors. In fact an argument can be made that even during the post conflict phase, these very themes have been loudly debated both within Sri Lanka and outside, the argument being that even if the ethnic conflict has been largely won by the government in Sri Lanka by wiping out the LTTE, the contributing factors that led to the unfortunate scheme of things continue to be largely unaddressed and only complicated by tizzy notions of triumphantalism, majoritarianism and a so-called national reconciliation that refuses to address issues of Tamil identity and assimilation two core issues that are at the heart of the problem. The pain of living away from the homeland is reflected in a different perspective, which includes the blacks, and the Indians in addition to Sri Lankan Tamils. The empathy shown mutually among them is really heartening. What binds them together is the identity crisis of living as refugees doing odd jobs. They were well off in their country with social respect and they found some meaning in life over there.