I wonder what motivates people to move: to restart their life in a country with a cold and hostile terrain. Despite being the child of immigrants, this is a kind of strength I can't fathom.
I left Pakistan when I was 7 years old. My parents had a life back home with stable jobs, parents, and siblings. They say they moved for us, but I think they did it for themselves too. Uncertainty of the future brings a kind of suffocation, and life demands freedom. It demands the liberty to exist without fear for your children's futures.
Their beginning in Canada was difficult. Our life was a kaleidoscope of challenges. I think it is because when you are new, there is no start or end to a problem. Everything becomes a cyclic demand. The day begins in the basement of a house and ends with overnight shifts. You work during the night and study during the day. You scramble for your kids' education while attending to your own. As an adult, I contemplate the source of my parents' strength. I wonder how they deconstructed a life with a solid foundation to build a new one from scratch.
I remember my mom would hug us all at night and tell us stories of how the stars carried our ancestors. How the moon waxed to look over us. How the sun appeared to give us the warmth that the night took away. I look back at it and think the stories gave us life. We were too young to understand the chaos, just old enough to feel it. We found comfort in the idea of being looked after - even if we were all alone. Perhaps those stories were not meant to be true; it was enough that they provided comfort.
Ten years have passed since our first day in Canada. A lot has changed since then. My parents' days are no longer torn between work and school. The darkness of a cold basement has been replaced by the light of a warmer house. We no longer have to fabricate stories because life has become kinder. When you ask them, they will join you in your quest to understand the source of their strength: their answer oscillates between divinity and their children. However, I think the true source of their strength was them. They had ambitious intentions, and like two travellers, they embarked on a long journey, and like all good travellers, they now spend their days narrating old tales. These ones are real, though. They remind us of a past we can't remember. When our days become difficult, and we embark on journeys, a similar comfort comes to fruition. Their strength is our relic. Although we cannot fathom it, we get to carry it.
Please note that certain facts have been altered for anonymity
This story is a collaborative effort between Vipasna Nangal and Aryan Badhan