Monday, December 10, 2007
A LASTING IMPRESSION
At least until college, her life was made, remade and remade again by events beyond her control. Born in Hounslow, London, M.I.A. (an acronym that stands for both "Missing in Action" and "Missing in Acton," the rough west London neighborhood where she lived as a teen) is the middle child of Kala and Arul Pragasam. Arul moved the family to his native Sri Lanka when M.I.A. was an infant, where he helped found a Tamil revolutionary group. Wanted by the Sri Lankan government, Arul went into hiding, and, as the conflict intensified, Kala moved the family to India. But because of their poverty and scant resources, M.I.A.'s mother was forced to move the family back again to Sri Lanka. Then, fearing for her children's safety, she eventually fled the country and settled in London. M.I.A. was eight years old. The only English words she knew were "Michael Jackson."