Kirsten Fogg is an essayist and wanderer who is currently working on a collection of essays, interviews, and book reviews on belonging at www.thebelongingblog.com. She is the writer in residence at Milpera State School for refugee and migrant children. Her articles have been published in The Chicago Tribune, The Globe and Mail, The International Herald Tribune and many other world newspapers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.
Congratulations to everyone on the shortlist!
Nana Technology (excerpt)
A faded picture of me and my little brother pops up whenever I turn on my phone. Here, encased magically in modern technology that my brother never knew, is the past that we were. It’s his third birthday, we’re sitting on top of the picnic table in striped bathing suits. I’m holding a patterned punching ball in my lap and his arms are reaching out, as if towards the future, but I know what he really wants is that chocolate cake mum’s carrying towards us.
Even today, I stare at the smart phone in my hand and marvel at its ability to link the past with the present, to take bits and pieces of me, my body and my voice, tear them apart, send them hurtling through the air and reconstruct them all perfectly on the other side of the world. In Skype milliseconds, I jump from Australia to Canada, from midnight to Manitoba morning, from today to yesterday, from my home ofﬁce to Nana’s funeral. If only I could reconstruct my brother in the same way.
In the darkness of my study, my sister’s long blond hair and blue eyes pop up on my screen. “You OK?” she asks. I nod. “You wanna say hi to some of the relatives?”
Natasha works the reception room of the funeral home holding me out like a microphone. Lips wiggle through self-conscious smiles. Hands ﬁddle and clasp. No one mentions the reason we’re here. Aunts and uncles and cousins—mum’s chatty borscht-making side—now seem to have more in common with the black commercial chairs that line the beige walls than the people I remember.
Dad had sent the ﬁrst email about Nana a week earlier. Nana has gone into hospital, he said. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. Even though she was 96, I expected her to keep living until my next trip home. Her death took us all by surprise. So did the price of last-minute ﬂights to Winnipeg. “What? 6000 dollars for economy? You can’t pay that,” dad says. “You know, you only need a ﬂight to be delayed by a couple of hours and you’ll miss the funeral,” mum says.
You can read the rest of the winning essay in the next issue of carte blanche. Stay tuned!