“What a year it’s been. Emotionally, it’s often made me think of my own family’s diasporic journey. When my parents immigrated from India to the US all those years ago with my then-Bombay-baby now-Mainer brother — arriving to a place where no one looked like them — it was six epic years before they saw their own parents again, or even spoke to them (this was the 60s; our family in India didn’t have phones till iPhones, let alone social media). 

Growing up, I’d run to the little red mailbox every day, eagerly awaiting my grandfather’s letters, his sitar-stamped pale blue airmail stationary turning our mailbox azure with a faraway sky. Within those triple folds, detailed news of our Bombay beloveds lifted our hearts from the page like origami, and I’d reply with all of our own day-to-days, play by play. Letters: a lifeline. And one that could take a month to arrive either side of the Atlantic.

Back then it felt like a part of us was always…waiting. Oceans away from loved ones like this, our lives thrummed with a constant pulse of longing. A fervent wishing; an endless wondering: When will I see you again? Will I see you again? In many ways, this last pandemic year has reminded me of that ache of the empty mailbox. This wait for word; a lifeline, a sign. And the feverish fuel of hoping and dreaming of one day reuniting with loved ones.”