Trauma, Memory and Testimony: Badami’s Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? And the Air India Inquiry
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“Trauma, Memory and Testimony: Badami’s Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?and the Air India Inquiry.” On June 22, 1985 Air India Flight 182 exploded off the coast of Ireland, in what has been called by many “the worst act of terrorism in Canadian history” (Dorais 214). On June 21, 2007 witnesses declined to testify at the Air India Inquiry because they feared for their safety. Almost twenty-two years to the day, those affected by the Air India bombing, Canada and members of Canada’s diasporic Indian community, are not free from the terror of that event. Canada’s Conservative government, led by Stephen Harper, called an inquiry into the Air India bombing in May 2006. Anita Rau Badami’s novel Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? stages another kind of inquiry into this historical moment. Badami’s novel culminates in the bombing incident, bringing her novel and the lives of the three female protagonists together in this tragic moment. Although the novel is organized around the narratives of three women, all of whom have personal connections and investments in Canada, this paper will examine the minor, male character, Jasbeer, on whom Badami first intended to centre her novel, and how his personal experiences and choices affect and are affected by political decisions. Badami’s novel contextualizes the Air India tragedy in Canadian and Indian history, and, when read against the ongoing Air India Inquiry, raises important questions about trauma, memory and testimony. Works Cited Badami, Anita Rau. Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? Toronto: Knopf, 2006. Dorais, Veronique. Rev. of Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? Canadian Ethnic Studies 38.2 (2006): 214-15.