For, in terms of being a writer, my creativity comes not from “Sri Lankan” or “Canadian” but precisely from the space between, that marvelous open space represented by the hyphen, in which the two parts of my identity jostle and rub against each other like tectonic plates, pushing upwards the eruption that is my work.
These introductory sentences by the editor Shyam Selvadurai to the collection of short fiction stories from South Asian writers embody not only the essence of this collected volume, but also the essence of what/who many of us are. We (I) often struggle so much defining and identifying ourselves through single terms and single ideas, because we think that’s what identity should mean, that we forget that what defines us best and most is that ‘hyphen’, that ‘open space’. When the two (or more) worlds of identities we have carelessly been assigned to, either by birth or by upbringing, clash and open a whole new world of discoveries, novelties, and differences, we are overwhelmed by the falling of barriers and walls we had set for ourselves. But the fact is, it is through these ‘open spaces’, often mistaken to be conflicts, that we embark upon a truer and more in-depth journey of self-discovery. Our identities are made richer by the connections and the conflicts we carefully delve into, trying, not to separate ourselves exclusively in this world or the other, but to belong to both worlds.
This volume of short stories is a compilation of these journeys, where conflicts are inevitable, but not necessarily in the negative sense. They are conflicts between different genders, different generations, different cultures, or different perspectives. Yet, as straining and complex they may be, these ‘conflicts’ provide doors and windows to beautiful and sad interactions that tell us clashes are not locks to what we are and what we represent, but keys to what we can be and want to be.