Crazy Yet Blissful

Week 33! Only 19 more to go. It was a very rainy day on Monday. I started out in the morning tutoring a teenage girl who is a refugee from Syria. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had some time to help her out with preparing for grade 9. She wants to attend a local high school instead of one further away that has an ESL program. I’m rooting for her all the way!! We are reading a book called Butterfly Park by Elly MacKay – the author also did the illustrations which are magical and out of this world. It reminds me of how I want to help my Mom to complete her children’s book. We were just talking about it in fact. She (my Mom) is pretty busy at the moment with work, but we shall work on it in the next few months, after we return from England.

Tutoring Session, Reading Butterfly Park by Elly MacKay

After the session I felt a little dejected because it was a rainy day and I had no plans and I almost felt like just going home instead of carrying on. But on I went. I made it to the local library (Beaverbrook Library), where I sat down on a round table near the back and read from Veiled Threat. The section I read hit close to home because it was about mental health issues and how many women in Afghanistan suffer from anxiety, depression, and are often on the verge of suicide. The numbers are actually staggering. Mind you, this book was written over 10 years ago, so it would be interesting to know what the numbers are now. One of the girls interviewed (age 16) from Kabul said: “Sometimes I think suicide may be a way out of this horrible life, but I feel sympathy for my mother since I am all she has in this world.” Some of the edicts set by the Taliban are so outrageous that they actually make me laugh. They have specified that the stones used to kill a woman must not be so large as to kill her quickly, but small enough that the death is prolonged and she gets due justice. Women continue to be stoned to death in countries like Syria and Afghanistan and Pakistan, although not legally but by communities for reasons like adultery or the husband finding out that his bride is not a virgin. Imagine how many stonings there would be in Canada if these were justifiable reasons?!

At the library, I ran into an old family friend, Surinder Auntie, who is a librarian there. We chatted a little about how I was in Ottawa for awhile, and how two of her kids live in Toronto, but her daughter misses Ottawa a lot and is planning to move back home. I can relate, because I find Ottawa so beautiful!! Nothing compares to the simple beauty of the Beaver Pond, late-night walks with my parents, and watching Hot in Cleveland in the evening, or Modern Family, The Mentalist, or Making  A Murderer (which I have yet to watch). Makes me not want to leave.

Oh, before running into Surinder Auntie, I logged into one of the library computers and drafted my email for Walk In Her Shoes, which is coming up this Monday. I am happy that there are quite a few people joining me, and that other people find this cause to be as important as I do. Or maybe they don’t, but are just there to support me. My Mom will be making us a big lasagna brunch to celebrate the completion of the walk. Here is a little excerpt from the email that I sent out:

I’ve included some photos of the walk over the past 5 years, full of joy and dedication, while keeping in mind why we walk – to walk in solidarity with women and girls who are not able to take human rights for granted, who deserve a chance not just to survive, but to thrive, to realize their dreams and potential. There are tremendous things happening all over the world, from grassroots to local to national and worldwide, and there is a planetary shift happening far beyond what we can imagine. In this time of so much negativity and violence, there is a lot to be hopeful for. As the CARE Canada slogan says, and what I truly believe, Together We Can Make A Difference. I’m grateful to be surrounded by powerful men and women who are taking action and making a difference.

And here are some of those pictures, gathered over the years:

After the library I sauntered into the Kanata Art Gallery, adjoining to the library and met a local artist and fell in love with one her paintings, which was made from fabric and was kind of like a framed quilt. Art Galleries are a place of such stillness for me.

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I continued on home in the rain, and when I arrived home I was absolutely soaked. My Mom said something like “You crazy girl, walking in the rain!! You will catch a cold.”  It’s true, I did look a little crazy, and also amidst that craziness was a little bit of bliss.

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Walking home in the rain, crazy yet blissful

The next walk is a big one; it’s the group walk with my Mom, Rima, Silin, my cousins, and others. Looking forward to it!

When I Dance, I Forget Everything

Today was pretty great, although I’m feeling tired and a little broken right now. It was a long day.

I walked along University Avenue and went to my creative writing class. It’s the second last class – I’m sad that it’s almost over! We talked about techniques for writing stories, such as writing lists, doing research, and drawing upon personal experience and observation. Kelli said to trust your instinct and your fascination with a certain topic or subject – that thing that gnaws at you, that you can’t seem to stop thinking about, or that you can spend hours on end researching. There are so many things that I want to write about, but most of all I just want to see where my imagination takes me. I tend to get stuck on certain ideas and limit myself, so it’s nice to write about something completely out of my comfort zone.

We broke into groups to review each other’s work. I had written a story about a young girl Kamini who is from a village in India and is forced by her parents to marry a local village boy. She can’t accept that this is her fate, and runs away on her wedding day. This of course is something that many little girls face on a daily basis, and it is an atrocity. I got some great feedback on how to revise the story, and everyone in the group loved it and wanted to hear more. It was amazing because I had actually started it in a previous class not thinking it was very good, but as usual I was being overly self-critical and hard on myself.

Following the class, I stopped by the ROM gift store (image above) and discovered a fascinating book about Hindu temples in India and the stories they tell. After that I walked to Balzac’s and saw that it was closed! So I went to Aroma instead to do some work and catch up on my reading. I read an editorial on the CARE Canada website about women and girls that are vulnerable in emergencies. One of the girls whose entire family was killed in the Central African Republic, said that dancing helps her to forget the pain. “When I dance,” she says, “I forget everything.” I’m similar that way – dancing makes me forget the pain. I think that’s why One Billion Rising is such a great movement, because dancing is a liberation of the spirit, and is healing and freeing.

The editorial also described the story of a young girl named Muzoon from Syria, who flees to a refugee camp in Jordan, and witnesses the marriages of many of her friends. She herself wants to fight against child marriage and become a journalist one day.


On the way home I ran into my homeless friend Marc. He recognized me and said that he’d been thinking of me – LOL – all good things I hope! It was his first week sleeping on the street (at Nathan Philips square) and he was actually enjoying it better than the shelter. He said that he slept better outside and wasn’t bothered by other people. I’m sure I’ll see him again soon!