Kochi: Keralites have passed through several phases of migration to places across the world but the diaspora has failed to find the space it deserved in Malayalam literature, according to speakers at a session on migrants and literature, held as part of Krithi international literary festival here on Thursday. Migration from Kerala has passed through several phases, according to Joseph Koyippalli, migrant and writer. It started in the second half of nineteenth century when people went out of the state for food.
"It was later upgraded when people went to plantation farms in return for remuneration, meager though," he said, adding that the poem 'Assam Panikkaar' by Vyloppilly Sreedhara Menon presents the picture of the migrant labour who went to the tea estates of Assam. "It was then followed by educated people who migrated to places outside Kerala and even India as supervisors. The migration of the late seventies to the gulf also followed a similar pattern. At present, Malayalis who can command a premium due to their education and skills migrate to the first world." S.K. Pottekkad's Vishakanyaka and Binoy Thomas' Karikkottakkari depict the internal migration, he said.
The Malayali migrant, especially the labour, are a voiceless lot and nobody has bothered to record their voice except for a couple of books such as Aadujeevitham according to short-story writer Shihabuyddhen Poythumkadav. "The minds of most migrants are similar to those of the dead people, which no one has explored," he said. Suresh Nellikkode, a migrant writer in Canada, said migration offers Malayali a new experience of dignity of labour, which makes it a cultural experience, too.