I believe there is only documented and undocumented migration: Juan Pablo Villalobos
Thiruvananthapuram: Mexican born Spanish writer Juan Pablo Villalobos said that in his personal opinion, there are only documented and undocumented migrants.
He was interacting with Ukrainian writer Andrei Kurkov and Greek-Englihs writer Panos Karnezis on the topic ‘The Other Side’ at the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters 2020 (MBIFL20).
The session was an attempt shed light on migration, refugees, their life and problems and the impact of moving from one country to another in writing.
The authors agreed that they all have the identity crisis of “Am I a writer of my mother tongue or the language of the country in which I am residing?”
Juan Pablo said that often times he likes being inside the problem rather than solving it. “In Spain and in Mexico, the language is Spanish, but it’s entirely different,” he added. Panos Karnezis agreed with Juan Pablo and said he feels himself to be in a position where his one foot is in Greece while the other is in England but he is somewhere in the middle.
Both agreed that they avoid any geographical references in their works because they themselves are not sure if they should be considered a writer from their country of birth or their country of residence.
Andrei Kurkov, who took up the role of mediator because he was the one sitting in the middle, said that there are several kinds of migration and three among them were the most important. He identified them as Educational, Economical and War related.
Kurkov pointed out that all three were fortunate to have been migrants and not refugees. He said that the situation of a refugee was much different and more difficult than that of a migrant.
Kurkov spoke about why he wanted to give voice to the people who were in the crossfire between two opposing interests - be it two countries or two factions within a country - not because of their fault.
Kurkov also noted Tibetan writer, poet and activist Tenzin Tsundue among the audience and asked him to share his thoughts and experience.
Tsundue narrated how he is stateless because he was born in India to refugees from Tibet. He explained the pain and suffering he and his family faced while moving from one country to the other.
Tsundue explained how he and his family lost touch with many of their relatives because of the geographical distance between them. He also explained his experiences in a Tibetan and Indian prison where he was beaten up and tortured.
Answering a question, Juan Pablo, Andrei Kurkov and Panos Karnezis said that it will be good if a person moving from one country to another can create a new identity in the new country. It is easy for the migrants but very difficult for refugees, they said.