At 6-years-old, my parents told me we were moving to Canada. I didn’t really understand what that meant, or even how to pronounce the country. I couldn’t point out North America on a map. I knew that I’d be leaving all my cousins and friends, and that made me sad.
We spent that year packing our belongings, and selling what ever we didn’t need. Our living room looked like a thrift shop, with price tags on pieces of furniture we couldn’t take with us. Every few weeks we would look at our inventory and do further mark downs, with hopes of selling everything before our last day.
I can remember crying in the car ride to the airport, and even more once when we said our goodbyes. I was getting excited about starting a new life in another country, but the thought of not seeing my aunts or hugging my grandparents everyday was hard to swallow.
Once we arrived, though the first couple of years were a big culture and life adjustment, we had finally started to settle in. My brothers and I found a path to follow, and successfully went through school and are doing well in our careers. My parents continuously worked hard and are supportive through everything.
All through school and early years of my career, I was pretty content with my life, how I was raised, and have been grateful and humbled by the opportunities that have come my way. However, it wasn’t until recently when my grandmother passed away, a true gem in our family, that I realized what my parents gave up when they chose to move to Canada.
My mom, an educator, was the head vice principal of a leading elementary school in Lahore, and my dad had just started to soar in his career as a pediatric cardiologist. They were surrounded by family, culture and lived in a country they will always feel comfortable calling home. The only reason why they left their home was so that their four children could have a better life, here in Canada. My dad left his siblings and incredible career behind, and my mom left her parents and had to start over from scratch. While I may have been ignorant about the depth of this before, I am now seeing all of it in new light and am truly taking the time to appreciate my parents and the life they built for me.
This year, CBC's Canada Reads has some great contenders and the common theme behind each book is “Starting Over.” As I reviewed these novels, it made me think about my past from a different perspective and if you enjoyed my story, I encourage you to read the following books, and hope that they help you through periods of change in your life too:
- “Birdie” by Tracey Lindberg
- “Bone and Bread” by Saleema Nawaz
- “The Hero’s Walk” by Anita Rau Badami
- “The Illegal” by Lawrence Hill
- “Minister Without Portfolio” by Michael Winter
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