09/10/15 Arts & Culture , Australia , Diaspora & Travel , Society & Politics # , , , , , , , ,

Reflections on the awkwardly knotted hyphen

Reflections on the awkwardly knotted hyphen

By Meeta Chatterjee-Padmanabhan


While rearranging book shelves at home, I came across old notebooks with Hindi and Tamil alphabets in my children’s handwriting. Each carefully formed letter triggered memories. I remember the smug satisfaction that my husband and I felt as we helped our girls connect with their heritage languages. The girls, on the other hand, barely suppressed their annoyance at not being able to join their friends leaping around with water guns in their hands and screaming with delight just outside our door. Many years later, reading Sticks and stones and such like, Sunil Badami’s phrase ‘the awkwardly knotted hyphen’ that inscribes the uneasy yoking of two distinct national cultures: ‘Indian-Australian, Australian-Indian depending on the day’ intrigued me. I have wondered, how awkwardly knotted can a hyphen be before it stops being a hyphen?
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