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Walking on a Ledge: Ajay's Story

I moved here for a better life. I think that's how most immigrant stories begin. We hope our old lives will conclude and our new lives will begin. Indians paint Canada as a paradise - a place you go to fulfill the dreams your country cannot house. However, life does not work in straight lines, and success is not always an upward trajectory.

I was both ecstatic and nervous when my old life in India ended. I had spent years trying to finish the Chartered Accountants exam. In the end, it felt like the system had been against me; I watched as the jobs in my field became sparse, the passing rate dropped, and thousands filled the streets claiming that the administration had rigged the exams. It felt like the hours I had spent studying in my room, isolated from the world, had all been for nothing. It is an odd feeling to experience a system against you. Even the simplest tasks become an uphill climb. The world feels a lot lonelier.

Five months ago, I moved to Canada at the suggestion of my uncle and aunt. They invited me to live with them and complete a business program at the University of Calgary. They convinced me that Canada could reward my hard work, that I could start from scratch, and I could make something of myself. Perhaps that is why I left India. Sometimes we leave because we want our old lives to end, other times, we want a new start. However, I’ve found that most often - it's both.

My old life in India has concluded. I study, and the educational institutions in Canada reward me for it. I have professors who welcome my curiosity. I do well in school. I have a job. For the first time in my life, I am making money. I am traveling, learning new things, and meeting new people. My old life wouldn't have afforded such endeavours.

All this in mind, I don't know if my new life has truly begun; Canada has been strange. Here, life does not work in straight lines: it works in spirals. People are inviting and yet remind me of my foreignness. My friends and family in Canada welcome me, but I also face hostility from airport staff. My professors encourage me to pursue accountancy, but employers also exploit me.

I feel that I am walking on a ledge. I don't belong to either side, but eventually, I will reach the end. Even if Canada is not the paradise I had imagined, it still feels like a haven. For the first time, I am thinking beyond the bare minimum. For the first time, I can envision a better future. For the first time, I can dream.

Please note that certain facts have been altered for anonymity

This story is a collaborative effort between Vipasna Nangal and Ajay Vish

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