A Fresh Start
Tiyam Kardan said goodbye to all her family and friends in Iran and started a long journey to build a new life as an immigrant in Canada. Besides all the difficulties she experienced in her life back home, she also had wonderful things that she missed a lot, such as childhood friends. Once, when she was very young, Tiyam and her friend Goli decided to go somewhere to follow their dreams. They both left the city where they were born and grew up together, but where and when could they meet again?
It was 2 a.m. on September 6th, 2016, a month after we arrived in Calgary. I could not sleep. The upcoming day would be important for our family, especially for my five-year-old son. It was the first day of school. I was excited and worried at the same time. I tried not to show it to my son, but kids are good mind readers, and he was a bit worried too.
Unlike the traditional style schools with tall concrete walls and gigantic gates with big locks that I attended in Iran, the school my son was registered in had a huge playground with a see-through fence and no gate or lock! Instead, near the entrance, there was a big word “love” made with ropes tied to the fence.
In the middle east, I learned that to be protected; you need to be enclosed. I thought, what if students run away from this school or a stranger gets in during recess and kidnaps them? To stop thinking negatively, I made myself busy checking my son’s school gear one more time: his backpack, lunchbox, clothes and his shoes. Everything was ready for a fresh start. I took his brand-new Velcro shoes in my hand. When did his feet grow so big? Six years had passed from the time I bought his very first shoes when I was pregnant. They were denim baby shoes with white toes and soft soles. I bought them in Iran, where he was born. And it was around the time we started thinking about immigration.
When I was a kid, my grandma made me a big wooden dancer doll. The doll had a string in its back to pull and make the doll dance. Grandma said destiny works like that; it makes us dance and takes us everywhere it wants, and you should obey whatever it chooses for you. As I got to know more about myself and the world we live in, I realized that I could influence my destiny. Part of my destiny that I cannot change is that I was to be born in 1985 in the southwest of Iran during the war. My life started with fear of the war and noises of fighting jets and emergency alarms. At school, instead of enjoying a childhood of laughter and play, all my energy was spent on the stress of satisfying teachers and parents with endless school tasks, getting good marks, and later when I grew older, struggling not to be left behind as there were always many more people than opportunities. But as a 26-year-old woman, I decided to negotiate with destiny over the things I could change in my life.
My husband and I chose to leave all we had and make a fresh start in a peaceful city, Calgary. But this city, with its beautiful rivers, friendly people, and oil and gas industry, also reminds me of good things in my childhood city in Iran, Ahvaz.
On my son’s first day of school in Canada, it was as if I was starting school again. I read and studied with him. I learned how to communicate and find friends. I found that working hard and consistently results in treasures. And I learned that security cannot be guaranteed with gigantic locked gates and that love can be much more protective than concrete walls. Sometime I will tell my son the story of our immigration from the beginning, from the day I bought him the denim soft sole shoes until we called kind and gentle Calgary home!
TIYAM KARDAN is a teacher from Iran. In 2016, she moved with her husband and son to Calgary, where her second child was born. An avid bookworm and a university graduate with a degree in social sciences and the humanities, she has always wanted to become a writer. She plans to return to school so she can qualify to be a teacher in Canada.