The wistful weight of distance

For those of us with families far away, the best gifts are not perfumes and shirts but presence

My father is unwell in India but I can't hold his hand. I see him on the phone, beard slightly untidy, under his blanket, thin smile trying to kindle worn face, and I get that familiar ache of the migrant. The wistful weight of distance.

To live away from home - or what was once home - is mostly a choice and to journey is often a privilege, and yet, distance has its own tyranny and, in effect, we live two lives. One here, the other in another time zone, divided by seas which we mentally sail every day. Every migrant knows the fastest way home.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 24, 2019, with the headline 'The wistful weight of distance'. Print Edition | Subscribe