Just Go With the Flow

Sadiya Farzeen


There have been many shoes in Sadiya Farzeen’s life: the knit booties her grandmother made for her, the Converse sneakers she cleaned weekly, the stylish shoes that she enjoyed in university. The black and white sneakers she wears when she leaves India for a new home in Canada don’t quite fit her, but like the shoes in her past, they teach her about growth and change.


To mark the beginning of my journey from India to Canada, I bought a pair of black and white heeled sneakers. My husband, my daughter and I wore matching outfits. As the cab for the airport arrived, I took the shoes out of the packaging and slid into them, but they slipped off my feet as the lacing was unusual, and my feet had no grip in them. I rushed downstairs, cursing myself for not having tried on my shoes beforehand. 

Yet, in the next 33 hours of flying, waiting, walking and running, I felt no discomfort. I knew that every step I took brought me closer to fulfilling my Canadian dream. After settling into the final leg of our flight, I tucked my sore feet and looked down at my shoes while telling myself, “Didn’t really live up to your expectations, did you?” I smiled at them and rested my eyes, but my mind kept wandering off to the many other shoes in my life.

My first shoes were a pair of warm, red, woollen booties my Naani knitted. She sewed, stitched, quilted and crocheted countless pieces of clothing for us. She passed away before I turned four, but the stories narrated by my mother and aunts have etched an image of her in my mind. My Naani was prolific—anytime, anywhere. Even in her last days in hospital, she taught the nurses the art of marking and cutting a pattern for a blouse from discarded newspapers. 

Decades later, when the red booties found new feet in my daughter, I realized a better tomorrow could be built only when we share our knowledge with those around us.

When I was in school, the chore of soaking, washing, drying and polishing my white Converse shoes for gym class squeezed out every drop of interest I might have had in sports. Nevertheless, I learned a lesson about discipline. Life will have tasks we don’t enjoy, but we still do them in order to maintain equilibrium.

My Pappa helped ease the burden of this routine. Every Saturday, I sat on the verandah to clean my shoes and turned to find Pappa stretched out on the deewaan, a newspaper and pen in his hand. “A feeling of expectation: four letters?” he’d ask, with a raised eyebrow and a smile. Thus began my love for crosswords. 

In college, I revamped my clothing and footwear often, as shopping options in India are plentiful and affordable. The footwear I owned then were either comfortable or stylish but mostly both. Since shoes were easy on my wallet, I wasn’t attached to them. Easy come, easy go! Shoes remind me of the transient nature of life. Some shoes I had in college were gifts from friends and family. Others I bought on shopping dates with my BFF. When I moved to Canada, I left them all behind—the shoes, the people—yet I carry a splendid memory of each of them.

In the wee hours of April 14, 2019, when I looked out the window, the glimmering lights of Halifax beamed a new horizon of opportunities and possibilities awaiting me. As the plane headed towards its landing, my excitement soared higher with the realization that my dream had finally stepped into its reality. The warmth of so many smiles at the airport made me immune to the frosty chill outside. 

As I finally took my shoes off at the apartment, I looked down at my sneakers and realized that no matter how much we plan and prepare, some things will remain beyond our control, but we can still relish them if we choose to. To believe in the grandeur of the Almighty and to just go with the flow!

SADIYA FARZEEN, a mother of one and many more to come, Inshallah, is ecstatic about achieving her Canadian Dream. A book and a cup of coffee is her definition of solitude. When not at work, she can be found perpetually planning, sorting and organizing things around her.

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