by Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar
Caring for a sick parent or relative takes a whole new dimension when you cannot be physically close to the person, especially if you are an immigrant and the distance between you and your loved one is thousands of miles. You are separated from them by oceans and continents. You cannot stroke their forehead, feed them spoonfuls of warm soup, or disentangle their hair. The only thing you can do is call, try to bring them some comfort through conversation. Before the internet and smartphones, it used to be only voice calls and you had to be mindful of the calling time because the rates per minute were steep. Now, you can video call endlessly and see your loved one on a screen, try to make them smile by making a witty remark or a familiar joke, but it’s not the same as sitting by their hospital bed. After every video call, you feel shallow and incapable, guilty even.
Writing about caring for loved ones can provide catharsis, a vent to all that you are holding inside. It’s a relief to put in words the thoughts that flood your mind at such times, thoughts you can’t share with anyone. But, if the writing is meant to be published, the challenge about caring or grief is to convey the emotion without spelling it out clearly for the reader. Passage of time helps with that. Even if you have written the piece or snippets of it right at the moment when you were caring or struggling to care for a loved one, it helps to revise and edit it at a later time. Through the transparent barrier of time, you can see yourself in the situation from a distance, and that enables you to narrate the events like a story where the main character is you, but not really. When remembering yourself at a time, days or weeks or months ago, you examine your thoughts more objectively, reflect on them, and maybe even relate them to tangible objects or day-to-day actions. When layered with such elements, your personal diary entry garners a universal appeal. It then belongs to anyone who reads it.
Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar is an Indian American writer. Born and raised in India, she later migrated to the USA. A technologist by profession and a writer by passion, she is the author of Morsels of Purple, a flash fiction collection, and Skin Over Milk, a prose chapbook. She is a Prose Editor at Janus Literary and a Submissions Editor at SmokeLong Quarterly. More at https://saraspunyfingers.com. Reach her @PunyFingers on Twitter.