The Shoe Project

 

Shoe Story 103: Reunited

by Meena Khadka

Reunited by Meena Khadka

 

Summary: From my small, conservative society in India, I had to come to Canada to join my husband. I was nervous, because I’d never travelled alone, and I would have my little son with me. On top of that, I spoke no English. My husband found a woman I could follow for the trip to Canada. It was a strange adventure for me—some of the things that happened I still can’t believe.

 

I was born in India, but my heritage is Nepalese. I grew up in a small, conservative society. I never expected anything big, like the same rights as boys, or freedom to choose my partner, or to express my desires. But always in my heart I longed to go where I wouldn’t have to worry about people interfering and judging me, from the smallest mundane things to life-changing decisions—that routine interference that says “speak quietly, don’t laugh openly, don’t leave the house alone, do this, don’t do that!”

At home I was the equal of my brothers. My Buaa (Daddy) was a liberal person who never discriminated based on gender. He arranged my marriage—after I agreed to the match! —and I moved from our small community to the big city of Surat. I was excited, but nervous about my new family’s expectations, and about learning the Gujarati language, but soon I had a sweet baby boy, Meehir, to lift my spirits.

Then my husband got a job in Canada; I stayed with my in-laws. My husband called every day, and always talked about the friendly people and opportunities in Canada. Finally, after three years of separation, my visa came through. I was thrilled—but at the same time I was hit with so much nervousness that I lost faith in myself, and shockingly said “NO!”

I had never travelled alone before. I would have my small son Meehir with me—and I didn’t speak a word of English! Thank goodness my husband did not take no for an answer. He arranged for me to meet Radha-didi, a woman who was making the same trip, and he convinced me all I had to do was follow her. So I started packing.

I picked a western dress to travel in, but which shoes should I wear? That was the big decision. Everybody started to give advice, as they always do. I chose the pair my Dad gave me for my MA graduation—the first wedge-heeled sandals I ever owned, with a shiny bronze strap and black soles, comfortable and easy to slide onto my feet. I knew those shoes would provide the comfort and courage that my Daddy gave me. 

It took two days by train to get to Delhi. There I met Radha, the woman I was to follow, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The flight to London was next morning, and all the time I followed her without questioning.

In London, after four hours on the tarmac, our flight was cancelled. I had my sleeping son in one hand, carry-on bag in the other, and I couldn’t find Radha—oh there she was! At Immigration I was frightened they might send me back. But at last I got through. We reached the hotel in London after midnight. I was exhausted and hungry, and so was Meehir, but there was nothing to eat in the room. I slid my feet into my sandals, but when I stepped into the corridor, I was bewildered by the maze of hallways. Once again, my fears got the best of me and I went back to my room, not daring to fall asleep.

Then I heard a knock on the door. It was a woman I’d seen Radha talking to in the airport. She said, “I cannot sleep alone, can I come in with you?” She was Radha’s friend, so I let her in. That night seemed endless.

In the morning Radha-didi came to my room, and when I told her about her friend she said, “What? I don’t know her. I just gave her directions! Good thing she didn’t take your passport!” That woman was not her friend at all!

We finally got to Calgary that day. When I finally saw the smiling face of my husband, I forgot the misadventures of my trip and I was filled with joy. It was pitch-black on the highway to Banff. I debated whether I liked this place that got dark much too soon, where there were almost no people, unlike the streets of India. Getting off the bus, I sank to my knees in snow. I thought I had fallen into a hole! I shook out my sandals and took careful steps into my new home. It has taken me a few years to understand and adapt to this new world, but here I am now, a fearless Canadian girl.

MEENA KHADKA is from Nepal but was born in India. She joined her husband, who moved to Banff for a job opportunity, in 2011.

 

Other Shoe Stories from Session 11, Canmore:

95: Life in Flip-Flops

96: Heels to DIE for

97: My Angel

98: An Interrupted Flight

99: Kitten Heels

100: A Perfect Fit

101: My Super-Hero Boots

102: My Sister’s Gift

103: Reunited

104: Sky Blue Silk

105: On My Own Feet

106: My Heart Wants What It Wants!


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