Growing up in a tropical country, Monsoon rains hailing down accompanied by heavy lightning and thunder was a regular event I witnessed from time to time ..
As a child, I looked forward to sending paper boats on the flooded water paths around my house after the rain was long gone. It was exciting to see how far those tiny boats went and how long it used to stay afloat. Some trudged far, some sank quick.
I imagined to take flight on those boats and landing in a far off land, away from the people I know and away from home. There was a certain thrill in setting out to pursue the unknown and explore the possibilities life presented in the other side of the world. A part of the world I haven’t quite seen yet…
Fast forward about twenty more years, I found myself married to a man who calls a country that is not my own, home. And it happened to be a far off land that I dreamed of and imagined to travel to as a child in a silly paper boat. As luck would have it (or may be not), in a few short months after my wedding, I found myself to be on a plane traveling to the land of possibilities where I get to start over life yet again. What do you call it? Yes, clean slate. Was I excited about beginning life in a strange country away from my family and friends? Not quite..but at the same time, following my heart and dreams to a new place sounded irresistible enough to take the plunge. So I did.
Don’t get me wrong. Leaving my Dad behind was one of the hardest decisions I made in my entire life. He was always there, you see, as a protector when things go wrong and shielding me from the harsh realities of life. Raised by a single parent, I have learned to turn to him when I needed to talk to someone and discuss the questions and concerns that I would need answers to. The urge of running back to my Dad was so strong as I waited in line at the airport to board the plane. I knew he would console me saying everything is going to be alright.
But obviously, that is out of question. The only way for me, is forward. I recognized the point of no return as I boarded my flight that would take me to my husband. Ah yes! A new chapter, a fresh start. I remember almost raising my imaginary glass in air and cheering away..Yay me! You go girl!
I felt the ground beneath me giving away as the flight gently drifted onward and up in the air taking me along with it. I left the country I spent twenty six years of my life behind.
This was ten years ago. Looking back, I know I wouldn’t change a thing that happened to me ever since. I got my fresh start, a new beginning. Ten years of marriage and 2 kids under my belt, I realize I am one of the lucky few who got the opportunity to follow my heart to where it took me. Yes, there were set backs, a ton of them. But hey, even “happily ever after” stories go through drama. A lot of it, actually. And admit it, if life is always happy, you could even lose your interest in living it. Hardships and twists and turns it present are the spice of life, my personal opinion.
But why do I write about life as I knew it ten years ago now all of a sudden? Well, the other day I happened to read about Canada Reads event. Canada Reads is the CBC’s annual battle of the books.
Recorded live in front of a studio audience and broadcasted on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, and at cbcbooks.ca, Canada Reads features five prominent Canadians each defending a book. At the end of each show, one book is eliminated, with the final book being declared the winner. The books are selected based on a theme. This year’s theme is Starting Over.
Hello there Starting Over! Who else can tell a better story than me about starting over, right? I could go on and on hours on end about how I started over mine. You already got a taste of that, didn’t you? Anyways, the theme piqued my interest and I quickly checked out the books that were featured. Sure enough, I found few of my favorites in the list like Lawrence Hill and Tracey Lindberg.
Hill’s The Illegal resonates with me in more ways than one. The Illegal is the story of Keita Ali, a runner desperate to flee his homeland, Zantoroland. He agrees to run the Boston marathon in the hopes that the winnings that come from placing will help him start a new life. But when he fails to place, he decides to go on the run – and goes into hiding in a place known as Freedom State, where his presence is illegal and he must keep moving in order to survive.
I could relate well with Ali’s yearning to leave the place he hail from to go in search of the unknown. The possibility of living life in your own terms and doing whatever it takes to make it happen is at the heart of every immigrant’s experience I guess. The roads each one of us take to reach the destination is different, each, a story in itself. What keeps Ali going is the need to survive. And for me, it is the thrill of exploring the unknown.
Lindberg in Birdie writes about Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman who leaves her home in northern Alberta to gain a better understanding of the messages on the television show The Frugal Gourmet and hoping to meet Jesse from The Beachcombers. Her adventure doesn’t quite turn out as she hopes it will. Birdie is about finding out who you are and where you’re from. In essence, that’ what our life is all about right? To find out who we are and define our identity.
So as you can see, these are the type of books you would want to cherish and hold close like Bible. Refer back to it time to time and ponder over the meaning of it all when goings get tough. Yes, you may think of it as just stories but these books does hide in them pathways to supreme truths about life-yours and mine.
Even though only one book will come out victorious in Canada Reads battle of books, let me tell you folks. For me, all of them are already a winner! Oh, did I mention the panelists yet? Well, there are some heavy weights on the list like Vinay Virmani and Clara Hughes. Yup!
Did I pique your interest enough? Want to know how you can get involved in this year’s CBC Canada Read event? Glad you asked. Well, I know you didn’t. But you WERE going to ask, right?
Here are the deets:
- Canada Reads takes place March 21-24, 2016
- You can live-stream the action on CBCbooks.ca at 10:00AM EST
- On-demand video will be available each afternoon at http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads/index.html You can follow along on CBC Radio One at 11:00AM local time (1:30PM NFLD), 8:00PM local time (8:30PM NFLD)
- A podcast will be available to download each afternoon
- You can also watch the action on CBC Television at 4:00PM EST (3:00PM EST on Tuesday March 22)
As you can see, this is such a fun event. Don’t miss it. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter to keep tabs on how your favorite authors and their books are doing any time. I am sure, immigrant or not, we all have a story of starting over to share. Its personal to each one of us. But the undercurrent that flows through each of our stories are all the same. So let’s come together and cheer our favorite authors as their books race to the finishing line..Go Canada!