Told by a Pair of Shoes
Serap Tezgel (+Video)
Serap Tezgel tells her story from the perspective of her trendy orange shoes from Spain. Their wearer has left the dangers a Kurdish woman in Turkey faces. They help her explore her new home. And they are a source of comfort when she thinks about the women who are still struggling in Turkey.
I cannot say which of my qualities grabbed her attention. My reddish-orange colour or my trendy design? My childlike simplicity or my comfortable flat soles? Maybe all of the above.
She bought me, and then suddenly her feet were in me, and we were walking happily. Sometimes she stopped and stared down at me. She was in love with me—in love with her shoes.
I am a pair of ankle boots. My size is just European 36. I came to Canada from Spain. The hands that crafted me remain in Spain. I am now thousands of miles away from my homeland. The huge Atlantic Ocean lies between us. In this modern age, globalization is the fate of the world. Export and import! Immigration. Mobile life. Things and people are like balls swinging from country to country.
It was obvious to me that she was a newcomer in Canada. I am her first pair of shoes that she bought here. With the shoe store salesman, she spoke in her distinctive Turkish English.
At the end of a long road, Canada brought us together. I understood it was a kind of destiny. Both of us were removed from the land where we were born. We were literally groundless.
She was a journalist back in Turkey. Life was not easy for her over there as a Kurdish woman. Being Kurdish, being a journalist, being against the political system was enough to make a woman face isolation and difficulties. She was tired of witnessing social injustices she couldn’t change.
Finally, she left Turkey. She loves living here, but she is dealing with different problems now. She doesn’t know English well or the dominant culture. Since her arrival, she feels that she is in Canada but not from Canada. She thinks she’ll always feel like one of the ‘others.’ Her accent will always be a wall between her and Canada. People pronounce her name with different sounds. Sirop, Sirup, Seerap…I cannot do anything to help her.
But l grab her feet warmly, lovingly. It is happiness to love and be loved. All day she never even feels me. The two of us are like birds—carefree and feathery on the sidewalks. I know my stitches are giving her a stylish look. They start from the big toe and stop at the ankle. I have conquered her heart with these details.
She loves to sit alone on park benches. We have been to many places together: street fairs, museums, cafés, and theatres. I’ll never forget once when we went to the Bloor Cinema. We saw a documentary about an immigrant woman who struggles to bring her husband to Canada. Serap cried a lot. She felt guilty about friends that she had left behind. She had a chance to come to Canada and change her life, but they did not have that chance. She reads in the news that every day at least one woman in Turkey is dying because of the violence. I am always trying to cheer her up by taking her out for long walks.
Now we’ve been together for almost four years. l am old and worn-out, but she still wears me on her days off from the dental office. Although she is not in her former profession, at least she is no longer working in her first Canadian survival job in the bakery.
One day she joined the Shoe Project. She is a member of a writing workshop for immigrant women. She decided to tell our story, the story of the love between a perfect pair of ankle boots all the way from Spain on the feet of a Kurdish woman struggling to find her new path.
I know that from now on, she will never give up. And she will keep me. I will always be with her wherever she goes. l am officially a part of her history. I am one of the footsteps of migration.
SERAP was born in Istanbul, Turkey. She studied public relations and worked as a journalist for six years. She writes short stories, with an award for one of her stories by Ankara Library. Now, she is studying social worker program at college to build up a new life in Canada.