Jyotsna was used to moving: her whole life seemed to be one of change. It was strange that a small town in Nova Scotia would be so appealing to her.
I was at work in Delhi, but my mind was somewhere else waiting for the news. “We are moving,” I heard my husband say, and my state of excitement was clear on my face. My mind criss crossed over so many things that needed to be done. How does one organize a move? What does one take and leave behind? I had grown up in India and had friends and family there, so a question arose: what did I want to take with me? I calmed down and made a list of things—clothes, household stuff, music, spices, shoes, everything.
We were moving to Zambia. It was 1999. Lusaka, where we stayed for three years, is a beautiful place but different, untouched by people, or should I say visitors. We saw Victoria Falls in all its glory: Zambians call it Musi-o-tunya, or “the smoke that thunders.” It’s difficult to describe; you need to see it for yourself. We visited some beautiful places, and for the first time, saw a Cheetah that was sitting, panting, exhausted with tearing and eating its prey, blood drooling from its mouth. The vultures were circling and settling down to finish the leftovers. I’m not sure whether to describe it as majestic or breathtaking—to see nature in its raw power. Three years went by, and we travelled through parts of Africa with family and friends. I had a lovely pair of breathable, soft sneakers to keep me comfortable, so my feet snuggled in, and I did not complain.
We were enjoying our stay, and then opportunity knocked. “We are moving,” I heard my husband say. We were going to Atlanta, Georgia, in the USA, straight from the rustic and wild nature to the land where everyone dreams of going. Hmm, not anymore. My mind went over it again, “What can I take away from Zambia?” I packed some things. Our friends came to the airport. It’s emotional, leaving friends. I had memories that I was taking away. And the shoes that I had bought in India and had worn to so many places were now packed.
I was excited as I would again make new friends and see another world. Mind you, it was different from all that I had imagined—a huge airport, broad roads, enormous buildings and shopping malls. Everywhere I looked, it was big, all manicured and pedicured. It was nice while we were there, not to say we did not have fun, but it fell short when comparing it to Africa. My shoes took a break. Three years went by, and this time we both decided: “We are moving.”
Bangkok was our next move. The place has a vibrancy and excitement that is hard to describe. We were there for five years. Life was fun with friends, the margarita evenings, the nonsensical talks, the show of emotion, the togetherness. Then there was Ruby, who worked as a maid for us. She was 17 years old, and I realized the emotional connection of having a daughter at home then. We miss her a lot, not for the work; she would “Mom” me into doing most of it anyway.
Come on, shoes. We are going on another journey. This time Antigonish, a small town on the Atlantic side of Canada. It is in Nova Scotia, the most beautiful province I’ve ever seen, a place where you could see heavenly sunrises and sunsets, but I can’t forget the snow during winter. Our neighbour Gary would shovel snow at midnight sometimes, and if I saw him while wandering around the house due to sleeplessness, I’d wake Anuj, saying, “Gary is shovelling; we have to shovel.” When we became friends, I asked him why he shovelled at midnight. Was it because it was going to snow again? He laughed and laughed, telling us, “I hadn’t exercised—hence the shovelling.” We have been here for eight years, enjoying the quiet. I have seen my son all grown up and a wonderful human being. I did pick up a good pair of shoes, which have taken me places in Nova Scotia, and I hope for more. Is this home? Am I there? I don’t know, but it sure looks like it. I am ready to hang up my shoes again…or maybe go on another journey.
JYOTSNA JAIN grew up in Gujarat, India. After living in many places, she moved to Canada from Bangkok, Thailand, in 2010. She got involved with the YMCA and Antigonish County Adult Literacy Association as a language instructor for newcomers. She found her niche in Antigonish.