the diaspora’s role in India’s covid crisis

Image Credit: Karthik Chandran

Mornings in my household are serene things. My dad makes fresh-brewed chai on the stove while coddling our two-year-old Goldendoodle. My mother sets up her Zoom camera to teach her daily Pilates classes from the living room. Mornings are easy, unmemorable, quiet. But lately, mornings in my household are suffused with a different kind of silence––the kind that is toothy, suffocating. My mother and father sit in the kitchen, my mother’s phone sitting on the granite countertop, its blue face bright in the gray shadows of the kitchen. Today, like yesterday, and the day before, someone is sick. Someone is dying, or already dead. 

Understanding the trauma and pain of India in this moment is nearly impossible. How could one possibly fathom the thousands dead, the millions still unable to breathe? For the Indian diaspora, the crisis in India is unreachable, leaving us with smothering helplessness. Images of corpses in the Ganges and of close friends and family in hospital beds pass through the community like tidal waves. My dad stands in the doorway of my room and tells me that my aunt has tested positive. Whatsapp messages glow green in my hands. But in the end, we are removed––we cannot attend the funerals, or sit in hospital waiting rooms. We cannot make dinner and leave it at doors.  We cannot do anything except worry and wait until the phone rings.  

And yet the diaspora has found other ways to help. Indian diaspora communities across the world have mobilized their strong ties to one another and to their homeland to create networks that raise money for drugs and oxygen, advocate for global governmental aid for the crisis, and get the necessary care for as many Indians as possible.
The pain of being so far away from a homeland mired in disaster will not subside. But at least our communities can do what they can to help India and support each other. 

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