When crossing back from Toronto, I found myself at a random bus stop for 2hrs, with a stranger from Afganistan. An older man I would guess in his 40’s.
I was stressed and not in a great mood, I had and wanted to cry after feeling stranded at the border, waiting for a bus back to Toronto. He was kind to tell me not to think too much, and he talked to help keep each other distracted as we sat underneath a tree waiting for the 5pm bus. There was nothing but a service station and houses around us. There was no where to be but this tree.
He told me of leaving his country for a better life, his struggles in a new country especially around English. He reminded me of my parents refugee story, and as well as things I heard when working for the BCC Multicultural Team. I felt foolish, as he asked why I was in Canada, it too was a ‘better life’ of chasing things – but that was mostly around a guy. Things were never that bad at home to really leave for a ‘better life’ and in a way compared to him I felt like a spoilt brat who had passed opportunities or complaining about a charmed life.
In broken English he described how thinking too much does us no good, he said “no sleep”, and no one to hear you cry. I didn’t dare to ask what was experiences or distant people torturing him but my heart went out to him.
He said to me something completely striking (paraphased) “No one in this country has to be nice to you”. He clearly picked up on my depressed mood. He said people here are not like him, no one here would ask how I was doing. No one asks you how you are, or cares for you when you are sick or sad as your family does at home he described. It seems to reflect his own times of seeking out the same.
How many people in our communities feel this isolated?
How many people don’t have someone to converse with?
How many people feel invisible?
How many people crave to be sincerely asked “are you ok?”
How many people need some kindness, tolerance, acceptance and love?
How many people just need friendliness?
I was one of those people that day, and his conversation helped me.
Our cities are full of these people, and I bet you likely encounter them daily. Likely are even one of them.