“the glint in her eyes sparked a great deal of fear within me”
Talk To Strangers
June 24th, 2017,
‘Twas a superbly average Saturday on the transit home from a wonderful afternoon out on the town. Having just missed the bus, I was met by a quaint little woman who kindly inquired if I knew when the bus was arriving, to which I responded I didn’t. Now, usually this would be the end of any other Canadian conversation, due to the fear of seeming overbearing, but she chose to pursue it further.
The discussion progressed and naturally schooling was brought up as she could tell that I was quite a bit younger than her, most likely due to my youthful, effervescent glow. I admitted I went to the wonderful institution of Foundations For The Future Charter Academy (FFCA) and her eyes lit up – uh-oh. Hopefully it is understandable that the glint in her eyes sparked a great deal of fear within me as the next question to follow is usually about my ability, or lack there of, to get their child into said school. Excitedly, questions about FFCA were asked and she told me that her children were on the waiting list – gulp. We talked for a bit longer and I learned that she, like my mother, was also a student studying to be a nurse.
When discussion of FFCA had died down she talked about her family and her heritage and quickly I learned that she was an immigrant from Bahrain who had to leave due to the fact that her children would have been deported when they turned eighteen – an understandably undesirable prospect. Though, Bahrain is where the money is and she wanted to go back there in order to live a comfortable life, unlike what she was struggling for in Canada, her family was more important. She told me about all five of her children, her husband but very little about herself speaking volumes to her caring nature. She was willing to give up everything she had grown comfortable knowing, start her education over again, and risk failure in order for her children to attain success in a new country without fear of deportation. I suddenly felt pretty terrible for fearing the spark in her eyes as it was ambition, who was I to deny her that?
Then the bus arrived.
We both got on, I waddled to the back to partake in some people watching and she sat in the front to ask questions about her destination.
After a bumpy twenty minute ride I saw her hobble off and look at me through the window distressingly so I hopped off and stood with her in hopes of finding her destination three stops away. The sun was hot, she was lost but I knew my way around the neighborhood; thus, we started walking toward her friend’s house. Who could turn down such an evident opportunity for adventure?
Along the journey I learned she was going to a friend’s house to get some pampering done in preparation for an Eid party the next day. She didn’t seem like the sort to do this often and after our brief interaction I already felt that she had worked hard enough to deserve it. We chatted some more and the trauma of first immigrating was reintroduced as she began to discuss the lack of hospitality apparent in Canadian culture, as compared to Bahrain. She spoke of the manipulative nature of people, how they’d fein wanting to help when in reality they had no intention to. She’d been in Canada for less than three months and this was sadly her first impression. She felt unsafe and unwelcome when asking for assistance in what was to become her new home; which, in my mind, is absoloutley no way to live.
The walk was proving extremely difficult as it was nearly thirty degrees out, she was fasting, and covered from head to toe. What was going to be a twenty minute walk – three stops – turned into more of a thirty minute walk but we both got to learn about different perspectives through the experience. I got to talk with a perfect stranger about her experiences and wisdom in this whole life thing and she, hopefully, was able to gain a little bit of hope about immigration not being all bad. No bias, no expectations, nothing. It was amazing!
We exchanged names but I forgot hers and I feel she may have forgotten mine also; both far too exotic for the other, I presume. Nevertheless, from this I was able to learn the joys of a good conversation. Untainted by the desire to impress – intellectually, comedically or otherwise – but just conversation with no intention other than the art of it. I hope to be able to experience a moment as such again soon as they seem to be becoming more and more rare.
I stood on the corner as she rang the doorbell of the house she thought was her friend’s and waited for the door to open; when it did her friend welcomed her with open arms. She turned back to me with a grin from ear to ear and waved frantically with joy in her eyes.
Then the door shut.
That was it. We each continued with our individual lives and our thirty minute walk was a wonderful little blip on our time lines. Thus, the intersection of our lives came to a close. The ending was not tragic, nor beautiful, it was not anything because it did not have to be. It was the end of an interaction, simple as that.