Kindness Goes a Long Way
Seran Celik was born in Aksaray, Turkey and grew up in Manisa, Turkey. When she arrives in Calgary in 2009, she doesn’t know much about Canada, and she doesn’t know her husband very well. She is afraid and lives a cold and lonely life. Can friendship and warmth from unexpected places, along with a pair of heavy winter boots, turn her situation around?
I came from Turkey, where I lived in a middle-class family with two brothers and my mom and dad. In August 2007, my future husband came to our home with his parents. I only chatted with him for 30 minutes, and his parents asked, “What do you think?” I said, “Maybe.” I didn’t ask him what his occupation was or how far away his home was. I never wanted to leave my mom, but I decided he would be a good person for me to marry. My parents were shocked. Even I wondered how I got married in two days. I came to Calgary on January 30, 2009. It was a cold and snowy night. My home was a cold and old mobile home.
I didn’t have any English, so I used body language. My husband worked at the restaurant from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. I was afraid and alone, and I missed my mom. I didn’t know anything about Canada, and I didn’t really know my husband. How could I live in the cold where it was hard to walk on the slippery road? My mom always said, keep your head cool and your feet warm, so I bought heavy winter boots from Walmart. I wore them everywhere. My steps were heavy.
There was a house like a castle next door to us. One sunny day in May, I made Turkish tea and cheese bread, and I asked my husband if we could invite the castle neighbours over. He said, “We don’t have a table.” I said, “Well, how about that fruit box?” The neighbours came over, and we had a good time. After that day, they always asked me what I needed. I didn’t ask for anything. But when I was pregnant, they brought me baby clothes that their grandkids had outgrown.
At that time, I cried every day. I had a lonely life. I missed my parents. I baked flatbread, and I ate it with dandelions. The taste was bitter, but dandelions are healthy. Dandelions were the only vegetables in my house since we were low income and, at that time, I didn’t know of the support services in Calgary. When I went into labour with my baby, the neighbours drove me to the hospital. I love those neighbours.
After a few years, we moved to our current house. I had a new neighbour, but I thought she might not like us. She never said hi. In 2012, my mom visited because I had another baby. She asked, “How is your neighbour?” I said, “I don’t know.” My mom was mad. She said, “Why not? You should give them some food.” I said, “Mom, their culture is different.” She said, “No, it is not an excuse.”
So my mom made sarma grape leaves, and I took them next door. My neighbour was surprised. She brought us baby gifts. One day a week she came to my house and gave me free English lessons. We became friends.
My boots performed well. But by 2016, I was wearing lighter, faster shoes. I volunteered at Buchanan School, where I baked fresh food for my daughter’s Grade 2 class. One day my daughter told me the school breakfast program needed help. I went to school early in the morning, and I served breakfast and cleaned the kitchen. Later on, the principal asked, “Would you like to work with us?” I was amazed. Now I work as a lunch supervisor at Rosemont School. I wear my light running shoes and take light steps. And I believe that unexpected kindness, such as I received and try to offer, can change the world.
SERAN CELIK was born in Aksaray, Turkey and grew up in the city of Manisa. She moved to Calgary in 2009 and works for the Calgary Board of Education as a lunch Supervisor and classroom assistant. Seran loves to help people.
Read Other Stories from this Author
My Educated Head Scarf
Seran Celik left school at the age of 11 in Turkey. The silk head scarf her mother gives her is too lovely to wear while she cleans...