It’s Thursday evening and I’m trying to recap Monday’s walk. What always stands out are the people I meet along the way. As I headed out, I ran into Meher Pavri in the long hallway of my building. I first met her years ago at the very first We Are Your Sisters yogathon that my friend Retu organized. We Are Your Sisters is an initiative to show support with the women of India and around the world who are victims of sexual violence. Retu was inspired to start it after she heard about the gang-rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey. At the time, I was deeply affected by it, but it wasn’t until I watched the play Nirbhaya that it became seared in my heart and psyche. Seeing Meher brought up all those emotions, and it was difficult trying to explain the walk to her and why I do it. She was dog-sitting for the weekend, so we went up to her friend Rahim’s place to pick up his dog Rumi (named after the Persian poet/mystic, also “roomie” like a roommate). She was telling me about a play she was in recently called “Arranged Marriage” written by author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Here is a pic of her and one of the lead actors:
The same author wrote one of my favourite books of all time, The Palace of Illusions. I’ve read it multiple times, and it is just as fascinating every time. It is the story of the great epic the Mahabharata, told from the perspective of Draupadi. The other day I was lending a book to my sister and she was debating between that one and Days of Abandonment. She chose the latter and is loving it, but I really think she will love the Palace of Illusions too!!
Meher joined me on my walk for a little bit, but poor Rumi couldn’t keep up so we decided to meet up the next day instead to finish our conversation. I continued on for what seemed like a very long walk. I walked up University and stopped at the Starbucks at 525 to take a break. Then went to Mercatto near University/College where I had some yummy fried asparagus and tea, and read from the Underground Girls of Kabul.
Azita is at her lowest, having been accused of adultery by her husband and for the first time being physically abused by him.
“Shut your mouth or I will make it silent,” he warns her. He will not hear of any more. He reminds her of how simple it would be for him to shame her, ending any of her political ambitions for good: “I will go to people and say that you are not a good wife and that you have relations with other men.”
Jenny asks her if she’s ever tried to kill herself, and she admits that she has, many years ago when she first got married. Her body told her that it wasn’t right, that he was wrong for her, but she didn’t have a choice. Her body went into shock. She had panic attacks, seizures, chest pains, and shortness of breath. Her body would go cold and numb. It reminded me of how my body reacted so violently years ago, when I was misdiagnosed with dystonia. What I thought was a neurological condition was actually a severe reaction to stress. It’s crazy how your body can react like that.
I made it to Balzac’s and I tried to work on my writing assignment but it was really difficult. I am taking Life Stories I at U of T, taught by Beth Kaplan. This assignment was to write a letter to someone, dead or alive, that will never be mailed. I decided to write one to Tsege, a lady that I had tutored through the refugee centre, who committed suicide this past January. There was so much left unsaid. I couldn’t remember our last session together. I told her that I admired her so much because of her ability to go on no matter what, which seems a little odd now considering how it ended. Suicide is a funny thing I guess. There is a stigma because people think that it is a weakness, but it just indicates extremely intense pain, where the person has finally had enough.
Then I stopped by the reference library and read a bit of Naked Imperfection, a memoir by Gillian Deacon who is struggling with cancer, and through her journey realizes her obsession with perfection. It is beautiful and raw. One of the lines that struck me was how she says that one day today will look perfect in a photograph. Oh how true that is. If only we could experience it as perfect while we are living it, rather than after. That is my goal right now, to experience the perfection of this very moment, this breath, this life.
On the way home I walked through Nathan Philips Square and was mesmerized by the reflection of the Toronto sign on the water.