Creative Enquiry: A tribute to “Familiar Strangers” in Life, Love and Loss
Men, Countries and Gods, published under the pseudonym Homa Zaklaki, is a fiction written by me, Roghieh Dehghan and my sister Leila. I am a practicing General Practitioner and an NIHR-In-Practice Fellow and Leila is a former doctor. This story is based on true events in our own lives without being autobiographical. The plot revolves around an Iranian doctor’s exploration of personal identity and her search for a ‘sense of home’ after migration from Iran to Austria and then the U.K. The book is written in diary form in order to reveal the humanness behind the stereotypes of an émigré that one often encounters in contemporary media and literature.
The excerpt from the book (in video form) is the diary entries of our protagonist that dwell on the impending death of her father. This section of our novel is very personal to us as it is a candid narration of the loss of our father in a ‘foreign’ country. On the one hand, our narrator’s observations, deep thoughts and raw emotions tap into the universal issues of loss and grief; and on the other hand, they demonstrate the social and cultural particularities of bereavement and the whispered joys and tears of those who live, love and die amongst ‘familiar strangers’. What is more, elements of palliative care are interwoven into the plot as our protagonist escapes into her physician persona when she finds herself at the bedside of her father in his final hours.