Liberating Age: Images of Ag(e)ing in Contemporary Film and Fiction
English & American Studies University of Potsdam Germany, http://www.uni-potsdam.de
"Old age is a gift from God when spent in dignity, as in this country. I prefer independent life. I like to live on my own instead of living with relatives"
(Gopal Singh, age 72, Punjabi Sikh, Fremont, California; in Lamb 2007). "Are you teasing me or what, Manmohan? You know I do not like to follow these Western customs. But what else can one do when one is a foreigner in America and one´s daughter has insisted on marrying a local fellow?"
(70-year-old male protagonist in Boston, in Rishi Reddi´s -Justice Shiva Ram Murthy, 2007). The above quotations illustrate some of the complexities inherent in the process of aging in transnational conjunctures as it applies to contemporary South Asian elderly migrants in the United States. These aging migrants primarily immigrate late in life for purposes of family reunification and thus have to reconcile conflicting ideologies about traditional notions of aging in India and "American-style" modes of aging in the "West". This process of re-negotiating aging in the South Asian diaspora is a matter of public reflection both in the United States and in India and the twin phenomena of aging and migration are increasingly explored in contemporary film and fiction.
This paper examines how literary and cinematic narratives have represented issues such as acculturative experiences and intergenerational relationships of transnational aging migrants, thus facilitating an understanding of how the intense meanings accruing to aging and migration have engendered alternative, even liberating approaches to aging in the South Asian American diaspora.