Vathsala Aswathaman (+Video)
After getting married in Colombo, Sri Lanka, my husband and I did some shopping for our journey to Canada. I spotted the most wonderful pair of light-weight, black boots. In my homeland, such boots are mainly for tourists and people going to the colder tea-growing areas. I would need these boots in Canada. They were a size 5: a perfect fit.
About a month after arriving in Canada, I wore my black boots on a special day; the first snowfall called White Christmas. Although they didn’t have any grip, they were very comfortable and kept me warm. It was my very first time wearing boots!
But we didn’t stay long in Canada. A month later, I wore those very same boots to travel from Toronto to Sydney, Australia. My husband was doing graduate studies at the university there. When I arrived in Sydney, it seemed strange; it wasn’t winter. It was the warm season. My feet were getting hot in my boots.
So, as the days went on, I started wearing sandals as I would have in Sri Lanka. But one day, I was walking on the sidewalk, heading to the university library, when suddenly I saw thousands of lizards. Lizard! It was like a horror movie. I stood frozen. I thought I had stepped on one. They were running away from me, disappearing fast into tiny holes. I had seen lizards in other places, but this was the first time I realized that they lived in the ground, in holes, underneath our feet. I decided then on that I would wear my boots all the time, and I did. People looked at me strangely, especially at my feet. I was wearing boots in a very hot summer. It was uncomfortable, but I wanted to keep my feet safe from lizards!
One day, we went to a town called Helensburgh to visit the Animal Sanctuary. After many hours, we decided to head home. But we got off the bus at the wrong stop, and we got very lost. It was a hot day. We were walking and walking, hoping to find a railway station. As we passed big bushes and trees, a car slowed down, and the driver shouted, “Don’t walk here. A bush fire happened two days ago.” Then he drove off.
We took a closer look; we could see hundreds of trees blackened by the bush fire. Suddenly, we could feel the heat. We walked faster. There was no one on the road. It was like a ghost town, a bit scary. Finally, we saw a girl standing at a bus stop. She told us the bus would take us to Stanwell Park station. I will never forget Stanwell Park station in my life. Once again, my boots kept me safe.
So, we were living in a house that was only 15 minutes away from the Pacific Ocean. Every weekend we would go to the beach. This one Saturday morning, the beach was so beautiful, with a wonderful breeze. As we walked along happily, we noticed there were no seagulls; also, there were no people. Then suddenly, we noticed a strong wind came up, and sand was flying all over us. We were in the middle of a sandstorm. We could barely keep our eyes open. As the sandstorm got worse, we wanted to hurry home. The boots were not so helpful. They made me sink deep into the sand. I got slower and slower, and my husband was holding and pulling me forward. It was very hard, but we finally made it home.
My husband got a permanent job offer in Australia, but I said no way. In just one year, I had too many bad experiences: lizards, sand storm and bushfire. It was too dangerous and, at the same time, it was boring and lonely. I didn’t have many friends there. We moved back to Canada, and I feel safer, and it is better for me. Once again, I still have that pair of boots—even though they are not good in snow and too hot in summer. They are kind of lucky boots and keep me safe! They are my adventure boots!
VATHSALA ASWATHAMAN was a trained Classical Bharatanatyam dancer in Sri Lanka. She holds a diploma in Computer Studies from IDM. Vasthsala got married and immigrated to Canada in 2001.