Ali has been here in Canada for several years now, having arrived as a refugee along with his lovely family from Syria. As I have mentioned before he was a botany professor in Damascus University prior to the war there, and is now my gardener. His knowledge of fauna and flora really is most extensive.
Arriving from a country such as Syria one does have to check some of the experiences and baggage that we bring, at the door – as it were. Jeff, who looks after immigration at our local airport, says that most immigrants are all too ready to let go of the past and look forward to their new life in Canada. And many, like Ali, bring some wonderful talents to our communities, regardless of what they may have done in the past. Like many of us, Ali does not talk much about his former life. I imagine it could be quite dark but have had few glimpses of what it may have entailed. It’s really none of my business.
Jeff takes great pride in telling me that he checks the passports of all immigrants arriving at the airport (other than when he’s on his lunch break or picking up his kids from school). He says that Canada accepts the poor, the disadvantaged and the impotent. He then rather sheepishly adds that unfortunately, while the poor and disadvantaged regularly show up, unfortunately the impotent couldn’t come.
Ali’s language skills, however, appear to still require some polish. As I sat drinking my morning tea in my kitchen Ali joined me and flicked through the local paper that had just been delivered. I had just finished my daily yoga workout and was still in my pink leggings and powder blue sports bra, that’s so good for working out.
He took his tea black and was quite absorbed in the paper.
“It says here,” he said at length, ”that the city is going to have a ‘pilot racoon cull’.”
“It’s about time,” I said, knowing how mischievous the racoon population of Huckleberry Close can be. “They’re too clever by half.”
Ali frowned as he read the article.
“It’s just that you wouldn’t think they could do that,” he replied.
“What do you mean?” I said sensing something amiss.
Sipping his tea Ali continued reading without looking up and turned the page. “You’d think they’d fail the eye test. I did.”
I sometimes wonder about Ali and his command of English. It is, however, better than my command of his obscure dialect of Arabic. I’d given up my attempts to learn his language after failing to master such a simple phrase as “Is it safe to drink the water in this hospital?”
We all of us have our own particular perspective that brings a bit of ourselves to all we observe. As a crossdressing non-binary person, when I see a Zebra I do not take offence at the black and white nature of the creature. Ali, on the other hand, sees a majestic beast of the African plains while Sebastian sees a walking barcode. He then goes on to pretend to scan it in much the same way as the checkout girl in the corner store, and adds, “At least it’s easy to keep track of them.”
We all of us have our divergent ways of looking at things and each is equally correct. As trans people I think we have to learn acceptance of others with views that don’t align with our own. They, like us, are travelling their own journey. As people who are often misunderstood, it is up to us to try to understand others – the good, the bad and the ugly – with kindness and without judgement.
But that is not the main reason I’ve written to you this morning. I’ve been adding new content to some of my programs. They are now even better value than ever. Be sure to join if you’ve not done so already. I always do my very best for my lovely members.