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Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 05:59 AM
But I'd like to tell you the story behind it first.

My parents left Sri Lanka when I was six, and we moved to the Middle East where my father had been offered a job. For the next twelve years, I considered Dubai my home, even though we all knew we wouldn't be allowed to stay there. Expatriates couldn't get citizenship - that only happened if you had Arab blood or were rich enough, and none of us qualified on either count.

In other words, when my father reached his sixties, he would have to retire, which meant his employer wouldn't sponsor him and he wouldn't have a residence visa. Which meant the rest of us would be sent packing as well. Many of my parents' fellow-expat friends, aware that this applied to them as well, treated Dubai as a stepping-stone to the States or Canada. They eventually emigrated.

My parents didn't (though I've wished many times that they did). Instead, their plan was that either I or my younger brother would study in the States, get a job there, get citizenship and then sponsor them in their old age. My brother and I knew about the plan from day one.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

At first it all went like clockwork, and I was accepted by the University of Georgia for my bachelor's degree. I was alternately terrified (because that was the first time I'd been completely on my own) and exhilarated (because that was the first time I'd been completely on my own). Different though life in the States was to my sheltered upbringing in Dubai, I loved every moment of it and wanted to live there forever.

I went to the University of Texas for my graduate degree, because it was understood by everyone that I had to get a PhD. But soon I had the first sign that perhaps plans, even those we've cherished for a lifetime, don't always work out. I didn't pass my qualifying exams for a PhD and had to settle for the consolation prize of a Master's.

My mentor was disappointed. My parents were disappointed. I was quietly mortified, because if I hadn't spent so much time writing a novel in my spare time maybe I'd have passed. Still, I would have a Master's degree. I looked forward to graduating, getting a job, getting citizenship and all that.

It was August 2001.

To be continued...

Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 06:23 AM
By 2002, it was becoming obvious that I couldn't accept a job.

I didn't have too much difficulty getting jobs. The problem came when the employers realized how much red tape they'd have to get through to hire me (the INS had clamped down after September 11). At that point they generally gave up and moved on to the next applicant. It was exhausting and frustrating, and I was rapidly running out of money. Probably the only thing I could still do was write, but that wasn't exactly paying the bills.

The people I knew, both those online and in real life, were sympathetic. One of them even offered to marry me, but given that he was old enough to be my grandfather, I didn't think the INS would buy it. I sold my car and took a cheaper apartment, hoping something would happen to change the situation.

Something certainly did. My mother was diagnosed with Stage IV liver cancer.

That changed things, all right. My parents and I discussed the situation and decided that I would move back to Dubai both to be with her and to regroup while I worked out what to do next. My brother was leaving to go to college in the States (he was clearly Plan B), so they had a vacant room.

I said goodbye to the States, packed my books and left for Dubai. My parents picked me up at the airport and we drove past a McDonalds, a Starbucks, a Kenny Rogers Roasters and a Cinnabon. I felt homesick at once, something I'd never experienced when I'd traveled in the opposite direction.

Things had to get better from there. Didn't they?

To be continued...

Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 06:40 AM
Degrees from the States count for a lot in the Middle East - many of the jobs advertised specify that they want people who are "UK/US educated".

What I hadn't taken into account was that there simply isn't much scope for science there. Architecture, engineering, computers, yes... but not science. The few jobs available in that sector are fought over, and have requirements that I never expected. Sample conversation :

"Hello, I saw your advertisement for a lab technician."
"Yes. Are you South Indian?"
"Uh... no. But I have a master's degree in--"
"We only want South Indians."
"Why?"
"Because the people who work here are South Indians."
"I'm sorry, I don't understand. Why do I need to be South Indian? What difference does it make?"
"So employees get along with the people working here and can speak their language."

I tried offering articles to local magazines, but that was even more of a dead end. Though perhaps I shouldn't have started with a letter to the editor about why a recent article on HIV transmission was inaccurate (the article, predictably, made it sound like a disease related to blood transfusion, because the alternative would be mentioning sex).

Still, it wasn't as though I had nothing to do. I spent time with my mother and accompanied her on hospital visits. We also looked into where I could go in the future, since obviously Dubai wasn't going to be a long-term solution.

Australia was out, because I didn't meet the immigration requirements. I did manage to make it past New Zealand's paperwork, but I was so homesick for North America at that point that I just couldn't bear to give up on that continent just yet. I tried Canada, and ended up five points short of their federal immigration qualifications.

But then someone told me that there was another option - provincial migration. Apparently there was a province - Quebec - which had different requirements for immigrants. I did the math to see if I would qualify. And I did.

We were cautiously hopeful, but we knew so little of the application process that we knew we needed help. A friend recommended an immigration agent who wasn't cheap but who was supposed to be good. The agent made it clear that this wouldn't be a quick or an easy process, but she thought I stood a chance of getting in.

Well, she was right about the process not being quick or easy.

To be continued...

honeysock
02-01-2011, 06:56 AM
*waiting*

(sorry, but this is a page-turner . . . )

fireluxlou
02-01-2011, 07:03 AM
I'm waiting tooo

Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 07:03 AM
My mom and I had always been close. Even though there were things we disagreed on (like the fact that I'd deconverted in the States, while she had become more religious during the same time), we generally got along well together. And she helped me as much as she could during the application process, including giving me the ten thousand dollars that the Canadian High Commission needed as evidence that I wouldn't be playing a violin in the subway.

(One reason my first novel is dedicated to her, but that comes later.)

Anyway, the money and certificates and so on were the easy part. The difficult parts were the interview, which would have to be done in French - je veux etre une Quebecoise, vous comprenez - and the medical test. But I'd studied French in high school, and I was confident I would pass the medical test, because I'd always been in good health.

The same couldn't be said for my mother. One day the doctors at Dubai Hospital told me they wanted to speak to me privately. I thought for a moment that I had gone too far in asking them questions. I'd always been fascinated by disease, and with a background in science, I could understand more about my mom's health, but I knew that some of the doctors didn't like being questioned by a little Asian girl. So I thought they were going to tell me off.

I wish they had. Instead, they informed me that my mother was going to die. "She has six months to live," one of them said. "The chemotherapy is not working."

I don't recall much of that conversation. I think I shook my head. I know I must have said something they didn't like hearing, because another doctor told me, "Everyone dies." I remember thinking that that sounded like an REM song. It all felt very unreal.

I went home in a sort of daze, and told my mother what the doctors had said. She was very indignant and told me not to worry - she was far from dead. She wasn't in poor health, exactly, but she was getting tired easily and starting to lose her appetite, though she still kept her job and tried to do everything that she had done before. The problem, though, was that the doctors weren't willing to give her any more chemotherapy.

Then a friend suggested that we go to Vellore Hospital in India, because her son had had leukemia but went into remission almost at once when he was in Vellore. My parents were ready to grasp at any straw, so they made travel plans and we all left for India within days.

That was the beginning of the end.

To be continued...

Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 07:17 AM
We were in Vellore for forty days and nights.

Given that it was a Christian hospital, that was most apropos, but I don't think we passed that particular test. On the one hand, the doctors and nurses were very kind, which was a relief after dealing with the "she's going to die, get used to it" bedside manner of the oncologists in Dubai. On the other, they adopted the approach of giving the patients whatever they paid for.

And since my parents were willing to pay for more chemotherapy, that was precisely what my mother got. She walked into that hospital, but she didn't walk out. The drugs ruined what was left of her health and at the end of the forty days all she wanted was to go back home.

We all did, at that point. It was a horrifying experience - not just the culture shock of being in such a different place, but the rapid deterioration of my mother's health. And the environment didn't help. We were all staying in two rooms on the hospital grounds, which were terribly overcrowded. Poor family members would sleep on the bare cement floors outside wards, which always made me feel guilty for disliking the place (at least I had a bed with a pillow). And there were ants and flies everywhere, unlike the sterility of Dubai.

There were some memorable moments, such as when my mother described how she had a portion of her colon removed, and I said that now she had a semi-colon. I also managed to get taken on a tour of the microbiology lab there. But for the rest of the time, we were just counting the days until my mother's platelet count recovered from the chemo overdose and we could go home.

They took blood from her every day to monitor this, and as her veins grew more and more scarred, the daily ritual became a nightmare. She would cry each time the technologists came into the room. I think that's one reason I have such a fear of venipuncture even today.

Once the doctors told her that there wasn't much more they could do for her in India, though, her platelet count jumped exponentially. So we got her into a wheelchair and took her back to Dubai.

To be continued...

Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 07:40 AM
The doctors in Dubai gave us their six-month deadline (no pun intended) on August 1st, 2004. In September, we left India and came back to Dubai. One of the first things my mother did was to call her boss (from her wheelchair) and ask if he could keep her job open for her until she got better.

I remember that so well. I was volunteering at a high-end thrift store at the time, and I'd bring home any pretty name-brand clothes I could find that would fit her. And she would say, "I'm going to wear that next summer" or "I'm going to wear that when I get better."

If sheer determination was all it took, she would have beaten that cancer like a rug.

But that wasn't working and chemotherapy hadn't worked, so the faith healers closed in. Things grew increasingly bizarre at home. Once I arrived to find a shrine set up in our living-room, and another time some of my mother's friends tried to make her drink holy water (when she could barely swallow). We kept having to take her back to the hospital for blood transfusions, tapping fluid and so on, while the doctors never lost an opportunity to make things a little more difficult.

One of them even refused to give her pain medication, on the grounds that if she suffered on earth, she would be rewarded in heaven. I had to leave the room at that point, because I was so furious I thought I would hit him. The funny part was, my parents were upset with me for my disrespect towards the doctor. After all, he was a religious person with strong faith, whereas I only had secular grounds for my objections. But we did agree that it would be nice if she wasn't in constant pain, so the doctor eventually stopped being an imam long enough to give her some pain meds.

One of the other doctors then asked me to sign a paper. I took a look at the first line - "Patient's family refuses to accept prognosis" - and walked out. Whether I wanted to accept it or not was irrelevant. My mother wanted to live, and that was what mattered.

But she was exhausted and I didn't know what to do or say to make it better. Other than bringing home more and more pretty clothes, all of which were too big for her by then. Even emaciated as she was, though, she was heavier than I was (I weighed about 75 pounds at the time). So one day, when I tried to help her up to go to the bathroom, she slipped out of my arms and ended up sitting on the floor.

Fortunately she wasn't hurt, but we decided not to repeat the experience. So I sat on the floor beside her and we waited for my father to come back home from work. Another time I had to ask a neighbor to help me lift her. No such thing as home care in Dubai, I suppose.

In November of 2004, she was so weak that my father (who was even more intensely religious) arranged for an exorcism. In the adjoining room, I covered my ears but could still hear the yells and screams at the demons of cancer to leave her. The demons seemed to be around even after that, though, so we had to take her to hospital for the last time.

My father stayed with her after work and I would be there during the morning and afternoon, but I don't think she knew we were there. She was on oxygen by then, and comatose, so both my father than I came home at night. That's where we got the call from the hospital to say my mother had died.

I was too burned-out by then to cry.

And it didn't really come as a shock. What happened after that... did.

To be continued...

Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 08:05 AM
The Sri Lankan embassy gave us written permission to take my mother's remains back to Sri Lanka "to be cremated or berried (sic)". My father asked me to come with him to the crematorium, which remains one of the most horrific experiences of my life. I'd always imagined that a crematorium reduced bodies to ash, so it never occurred to me that an industrial-strength grinder was also required. I had to leave the place before I fainted.

But it was done and we took the remains to Sri Lanka, where my mother's family was in shock (she had told them all that she was going to get better, and they hadn't seen everything we'd witnessed first-hand). Then we went back to Dubai.

There was a void in the apartment. As though a continent had vanished off the map overnight. I did what I could to cook and clean, as well as emptying my mom's closets and giving away most of her clothes, but it was about a month before I felt strong enough to attend to something she wanted done. Before she died she had written a letter to the hospital administrator, and she had wanted it typed up and mailed. I went to the computer, which was on, and glanced at the screen.

There was an email on the screen. It was a love letter from my father to another woman.

I read through it, and soon realized that my father had started dating again. He seemed to have skipped over all the Kubler-Ross stages of grieving and gone straight to acceptance. Still in shock, I confided this to an aunt of mine in Sri Lanka.

And promptly received a worse shock, because apparently everyone in Sri Lanka knew about this and had been urging him on. I had never expected such a thing, because in Sri Lanka, a person is expected to wait a year after a spouse's death to remarry. Doing so before that is considered highly disrespectful to the spouse's memory. But my father was already making plans to marry another woman, and no one seemed to think there was anything strange about this.

I soon found out why, though. Since my mother had never expected to die, she hadn't put her financial affairs in order. Since she hadn't done that, my father controlled her estate. And since he did so, he decided who would and who wouldn't inherit what she had owned.

That was why the family was eager to support him in whatever decisions he made. But I didn't - couldn't - support his sudden remarriage.

That meant I inherited nothing.

At a time when, more than anything else, I needed to pay my immigration agent and go to Canada.

To be continued...

Evelyn
02-01-2011, 09:17 AM
*** biting fingernails ***

fireluxlou
02-01-2011, 12:48 PM
Ooh this is too big of a cliff hanger to leave it on!

Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 02:21 PM
Thanks, guys! Glad you're enjoying the story. :)

The immigration agent's fee was a thousand dollars. There would be further fees for the medical exam. And then, if all went well, at least fifteen hundred for the plane ticket.

I had a few dollars, at the most.

Oh, there was the ten thousand in the bank (which thankfully my mother had put in my name long before her death). But I didn't dare touch a penny of it. What if the Canadian High Commission wanted evidence that it was all still there, an intact reassurance that I wouldn't be on their version of Welfare?

Now that my mom was gone, I was free to take a full-time job, but those were just as difficult to come by as they had previously been. So I tried anything I could to raise money. I gave tuition and sold anything I didn't need at the thrift store. I also used to take the half-used candles from the grotto outside the Catholic church, melt them down, make new candles and sell them outside the Anglican church, and I don't think either church would have been too pleased about that.

Those brought in a few trickles of money that I hoarded fiercely. I used to walk everywhere (in the Middle East, in summer) to save even the bus fare, and since I was still living in my parents' apartment at least I didn't have to pay rent. My friends in the States helped too. I was a member of a large online community called the Internet Infidels at the time, and another infidel once sent me seven hundred and fifty dollars via Western Union.

My father gave me nothing at all. I tried confiding in my mother's family, but soon stopped that when one of them took my letters to him. So I spoke to her closest friends in Dubai, women who I felt more certain would try to help me. One of them actually spoke to him, asking about the land that my mother had left to my brother and me in her will.

"The land is in Sri Lanka," my father said, "and none of us plan on living there or using it. So I've sold my son's share and sent him the money."

The friend nodded. "And what are you doing for your daughter?"

"We're praying for her."

Because I could presumably buy my plane ticket to Canada with prayer.

To be continued...

Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 02:45 PM
May, 2005.

My father went to Sri Lanka to get married. I was invited to the wedding, but declined. By now I had run out of legitimate ways to raise the funds I needed and resorted to less legitimate ones, such as writing college application essays for a boy who was all but illiterate. After I had done those, his father tried to stiff me on the money. I reminded him that I knew which universities his son had applied to, and could always contact them to mention the essays. He paid up.

My father returned alone, but before I could be too relieved about that he informed me that the woman (now his second wife) would be with us in a few months. I asked if we could move to a new apartment, because it would be very difficult seeing someone else in my mother's kitchen. He said no. I asked for the money I needed. He walked away.

Events in his life seemed to be proceeding at breakneck speed, while mine was stalled. In desperation I went to the immigration agent that June, explained the situation and asked about when I could expect the interview with the Canadian Consulate. Until that happened, I was going nowhere.

The immigration agent sympathized, but said that there was such a long waiting line in Dubai that I would be looking at a year at least.

"What about outside Dubai?" I said. "Another country nearby?"

She looked thoughtful, made a phone call and then told me that if I wanted to have the interview in Syria, it could be done in July. Next month! I said yes, I'd have it done there. The plane flight from Dubai to Damascus wouldn't break the bank either.

I really should have wondered why there was almost no waiting line in Syria.

To be continued...

Calla Lily
02-01-2011, 04:39 PM
This is fascinating and I am hanging on, waiting for your next post.

regdog
02-01-2011, 05:14 PM
Me too

Ann_Mayburn
02-01-2011, 05:17 PM
More more more! And honestly, you should write a book about this. YOUR book. :)

fireluxlou
02-01-2011, 05:22 PM
More I am so eager to here the good news!

heyjude
02-01-2011, 05:23 PM
Ack! More, please!

regdog
02-01-2011, 05:34 PM
More more more! And honestly, you should write a book about this. YOUR book. :)

I was thinking the same thing

firedrake
02-01-2011, 05:39 PM
Wow!

I can't wait to read more. :Wha:

stormie
02-01-2011, 06:08 PM
Waiting anxiously for more....

When you mentioned going back to the apartment right after your mother died and said the emptiness of not having your mother there was like a continent wiped off the map, I cried.

Your way with words, your forward-moving story, is excellent.

Please, continue soon!

MissAimee
02-01-2011, 06:09 PM
Don't leave us hanging!

Cranky
02-01-2011, 06:13 PM
Joining the "more, please!" chorus. :)

DamaNegra
02-01-2011, 06:18 PM
Ack! Cliffhanger! What happened then?

fireluxlou
02-01-2011, 06:28 PM
This is the best thread! I love your story telling.

dolores haze
02-01-2011, 07:02 PM
What happened next?

CACTUSWENDY
02-01-2011, 07:48 PM
Okay. I have been reading this from the start and have not butted in, but.................tell me more.

Prawn
02-01-2011, 07:50 PM
I would like to request the full Ms!

Bookewyrme
02-01-2011, 08:01 PM
Started reading last night and then the internet conked out. I'm on tenterhooks here! I'd also like to add my voice to the ones suggesting you write a book about this. It is fascinating and emotional.

Marian Perera
02-01-2011, 08:48 PM
Thank you so much for the comments, everyone! I'm glad you're enjoying the story. :)

If the mountain would not come to Mahomet, Mahomet had to go to the mountain. So I made plans to go to Syria, which meant obtaining a visa on top of all the other red tape, reason number infinity why I wanted a Canadian passport.

The immigration agent then decided to give me some advice that would help me pass my interview at the Canadian Consulate in Syria. "You should bleach your face," she said. "And try stuffing your bra."

Now it's true that I'm brown-skinned and flat-chested, but I didn't see how that could hinder me from getting a Canadian visa. I'd managed to get into the States and obtain a graduate degree there without any artificial inflation of my cup size, and I had no intentions of looking like Michael Jackson if the face-bleaching went wrong. That was one of the nice things about being in North America - people there actually liked my skin color and told me they wished they could be thin too. So I informed the immigration agent that I wasn't going to do it, and pointed out that I wanted to work in science, not be an exotic dancer.

My mother's best friend had driven me to the agent's office and when she heard that she was scandalized, not so much because of the exotic dancer reference (which I don't think she got) but because I'd disagreed with a person older than I was. Reason number infinity plus one I wanted to get to Canada. In the end I just said that I was going to Syria as I was, and the Canadian Consulate would have to deal with it.

It was July. I arrived in the airport in Syria and handed over my passport to be checked. My passport was current, my residence visa in Dubai was valid and my paperwork was all in order.

One of the men behind the counters - he looked more like a security guard, actually, since he wore a uniform with epaulettes - took my passport and went off into another part of the airport. I wondered where he had gone, and asked another of the airport personnel if everything was all right.

"Siddown," he told me.

I took a seat and waited. All the people who had been on the flight had passed through customs and were gone. The place was empty. Then the man who had originally taken my passport reappeared, and I went up to him.

"Siddown!" he said.

With few other options, I saddown and waited some more.

To be continued...

Prawn
02-01-2011, 09:01 PM
Tease!

Kitty Pryde
02-02-2011, 02:57 AM
Fess up! Is this an excerpt from your brilliant upcoming memoir?

*checks PM for sales of memoirs about tiny world-traveling scientist-authors*

Mr Flibble
02-02-2011, 03:06 AM
GODS DAMN IT ALL TO WASSNAME WOMAN! YOU CANNOT KEEP ME HANGING LIKE THIS!

I like it, please, let me know what happens. Is the good news you finally got residency or similar? Is it, is it? And yes, this would make a fine, fine book...

Prawn
02-02-2011, 03:07 AM
Funny, if she had posted it in SYW as an excerpt from her memoir, we would have been talking about voice and POV and motivation, but posted here in G and A, we are saying more! more! I feel like I should buy her a beer to hear the rest of her tale.

Cranky
02-02-2011, 03:10 AM
If that's what it takes to get a new installment, Prawn, I'll pitch in. :D

WANT MOAR NAO, KTHXBAI

dolores haze
02-02-2011, 03:13 AM
*throws money in the kitty*

sheadakota
02-02-2011, 03:28 AM
I have no more fingernails to bite!

Uncarved
02-02-2011, 03:35 AM
MOAR MOAR I SEZ!

And another who wants you to write it as a memoir and get a six figure deal;)

CtS
02-02-2011, 03:36 AM
More! More!!! I just read for a half hour expecting to find SOME conclusion and you give me nothing!!!

CACTUSWENDY
02-02-2011, 03:50 AM
I hope this is not a book. It is almost all tell. lol

But, it would make a good book if made into book form.

IMHO

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 03:52 AM
I couldn't bear to disappoint readers, so here's more!

****

By now I had been waiting in the airport, alone, for nearly an hour. There was no one in Syria who was expecting me and who would search for me if I vanished. No one in Dubai would miss me too much either. And yet it never occurred to me to leave the place, because where could I go without my passport?

Then one of the Siddowns emerged from behind a counter and told me to come with him. I went, hoping fervently that nothing would happen to me. Surely they wouldn't decide to... do anything... to me simply because I was an unmarried Asian woman traveling alone. Surely my agent wouldn't have suggested Syria if things like that routinely happened there.

The room into which I was shown looked like a lounge with a television in one corner. On a table covered with coffee cups and Turkish Delight was my passport, and another Siddown was thumbing through it.

"Where you from?" he said to me.

"Sri Lanka."

"Where you live?"

"Dubai."

"Where you going?"

"To the Canadian Consulate in Damascus."

He stared at me blankly. Clearly that had been far too many countries to process. But after a moment longer he gave me back my passport and turned his attention to the Turkish Delight. Still, I didn't dare relax until I was outside the airport. The sunlight had never felt so good.

I took a taxi to the hotel where I would be staying until my appointment the next day, and went to the dining-room for dinner. During the meal, I learned that another guest was also there for an interview at the Canadian Consulate.

I was pleased to have company, especially since we could practice French with each other. Although I'd studied the language in high school, I wasn't exactly capable of fluent conversation, so I had asked one of my uncles, who worked in the Alliance Francaise, if he could help. He had given me a copy of a French film called La Reine Margot, which wasn't exactly interview material. In fact, after hearing the titular character say, "J'ai besoin d'un homme cette nuit", I told my uncle, "If I ever have to say that, the interview will not be going too well."

The other guest was there with her husband, who would be applying as her dependant, but when I saw what they had brought with them, my heart sank. She had made a huge poster showing Quebec's geography, history, culture, economy... it was like a combination of an encyclopedia and a diorama, and it had never occurred to me to do something equally appealing. I hoped that the Consulate didn't have only one visa to hand out.

The next day I got dressed and went out to catch a taxi. I had been told that it would cost 25 Syrian pounds to get to the Consulate, but the driver charged me a hundred pounds instead and I had no choice but to pay up. Telling myself it would all be over soon, I went to meet the Canadian consul.

The interview went better than I expected. He did most of the talking, while I nodded and said, "Oui, oui, je comprends" at regular intervals. And then I got the official document saying that the Province of Quebec approved my application.

Of course, there was still the federal government's permission to get. But I was thrilled to have leaped the second hurdle. Sadly the other applicant, the one with the poster, was turned down. She spoke French well enough, but her husband didn't.

The next day I repacked my one little bag, went back to the airport and passed all the security checkpoints until the last, where I was told I had to pay an exit tax of two hundred Syrian pounds. At that point I would have donated blood if they'd wanted it, as long as I could leave. So I fished out my wallet.

"No no, you pay there," the man said, gesturing in the direction from which I had come. "You can leave your bag here if you like."

"I think I'll take it with me, thanks," I said, and lugged it back to the first checkpoint, where I asked one of the younger (and hopefully nicer) Siddowns where I could pay the tax. He gave me a long set of directions and when I followed them I found myself outside the airport completely, at the taxi stand. Tax, taxi. At that point I decided that although I was morally opposed to American aggression in the Middle East, I would make an exception in this case.

To be continued...

stormie
02-02-2011, 04:05 AM
No! NO! No "to be continued." NO!

*stormie tries to calm down.*

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 04:12 AM
August, 2005.

My father left for Sri Lanka, so he could bring his second wife to Dubai. Now that I had passed the interview, though, the next step was the medical tests. I took them as soon as possible, paying for everything out of my meager savings and hoping that I would get approval from the Canadian High Commission soon. Then I wouldn't need to live with my father and the other woman for much longer.

The medical tests weren't too bad, except for the chest X-ray. My TB skin test was positive (due to either a BCG vaccination or that trip to Vellore Hospital), so I had to get an X-ray to show that I didn't have active or latent TB. I knew what the X-ray entailed, but I was puzzled that I didn't get a paper gown to wear.

And then, while I was stripped to the waist with my chest against the machine, the technician told me that my hair needed to be up. "I don't have anything to put it up with," I said.

"I have a rubber band," the technician said, and came out from behind the screen. I was still in the correct position, hands on hips, and I stayed like that while the technician came up behind me and tied up my hair. When my friends in the States heard about that, they were unanimous in their opinion that the technician had been making a pass at me. I wasn't sure whether that was the case or not, but if so, the technician couldn't have picked a worse target. I was so preoccupied with the tests that even the weirdness of the situation didn't really register.

Not that I could have done anything even if it did. Dubai might be one of the most liberal places in the Middle East, but sexual harassment of any kind would have to be really major for people to take it seriously. And I wasn't going to jeopardize my medical tests by complaining about anyone who was handling them.

The results of the medical tests came in - all negative. I sent them off, and waited hopefully for the Canadian High Commission to approve me.

They didn't.

To be continued...

PattiTheWicked
02-02-2011, 04:40 AM
More! More! More!

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 04:44 AM
The Canadian High Commission's response spelled it out clearly. My medical records included my weight and height, and at the time I was about 75 pounds - partly because I'd always been thin and partly because of the stress. As a result, my BMI was 12. So the Canadian High Commission wanted evidence that I didn't have an eating disorder (or any other disease).

By then it was September. I came home one afternoon to find a woman's shoes in the hall and a woman's clothes hanging in the bathroom. My father and his second wife had arrived.

I can't quite describe how I felt at that moment. It was as though a stranger had moved into a familiar place, taking it over, and suddenly there seemed to be that much less room for me. I couldn't eat (damn, the Canadian High Commission was not going to like that) but I made a cup of tea in the kitchen as I heard them talking in the bedroom. My father came to the kitchen and told me they were back.

"I see," I said. "And you didn't tell me when you'd be arriving."

"Adults don't need to tell other people their plans," he said.

I didn't say anything, but I always remembered those words. Then the new woman came to the kitchen door. Something about me must have made her stop there, because we exchanged tense greetings at a distance ("Hello, Marian." "Hello.") and then I went to my room.

From that day, the Cold War was in progress and my room door was the Iron Curtain. I decided in advance that I wasn't going to eat anything some stranger had cooked in my mother's kitchen, so I bought my own food and ate in my room. My father clamped down even harder on the money and told his family that I was an ungrateful, spiteful person, mostly because I wasn't a Christian. I said that he seemed to attend the Church of Cheating Your Children, and I would rather not be a member of that.

But the second wife's arrival did something good for me after all. At that point I was so desperate for a job - not only to earn money but simply to get me out of that house - that I started combing through the want ads again. I'd stopped doing that after too many frustrating turndowns on account of my ethnicity, but now I gave it one more try.

And there was an advertisement about a just-opened British school which needed staff immediately. I called them, hoping that a British employer wouldn't have any objections to me, and was asked to come for an interview.

By that time I had also made an appointment with the clinical psychologist the Canadian High Commission recommended, and was waiting to be evaluated. But I'd have to pay for that, and for all the other medical tests needed to show that I didn't have HIV, hyperthyroidism, tapeworms and so on. If I could get the job, I would be able to afford all of that.

To be continued...

Cranky
02-02-2011, 05:31 AM
*clears throat*

*taps foot*

*chews on furniture*

:D

MissFit
02-02-2011, 05:53 AM
Don't leave us hanging, girl!

I hope you make it here (Canada) in the end...we're not a perfect country (I know, I come from a family of immigrants...immigrants from a warm climate) but it's a GREAT place to make a fresh start.

*Hugs*

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 06:04 AM
The taxi driver had never heard of Dubai British School, but that wasn't surprising - it was so new that the available staff didn't even have textbooks yet. But it was the first day of school and the children were already there when I showed up for my interview. Everyone was so busy that I sat and waited for half an hour. At the end of that time, the head of the science department asked if I could help unpack and catalog the laboratory supplies.

I pitched in, glad to have something to do, but puzzled as to whether or not I had actually been hired. At lunch, the HR director - with whom I was supposed to have the interview - finally had time to see me, and he said that I could work there until October, when they would see if they had a full-time position. I asked about a salary, and he said they could pay me 5000 dirhams a month.

That was about fifteen hundred dollars, and since there's no income tax in Dubai it was all mine. I was delighted. Even better, one of the school buses could pick me up in the morning. The commute was one-and-a-half hours long, but I didn't care - it was worth it to have a job again.

I enjoyed my new routine. Each day I would get up at about four in the morning, because it felt wonderful to have the place to myself. I'd fix breakfast and then take it to my room to eat while I logged on to the internet (we had dial-up, but at that time of the morning no one needed to make a call). My friends in the States would all be awake, thanks to the time difference, so we would chat and then I would leave at a quarter to six to catch the bus.

We lived near an airport, and as I would walk to the bus stop in the cool dawn I often saw planes taking off or coming in to land. I always looked up to see their lights against the dimness of the sky, and each time I did so I thought, Some day that will be me, leaving. Every time I saw a plane I told myself that one day I would be on it, traveling to what I secretly thought of as the Promised Land.

And now, any time a plane passes overhead, I still look up at my sign of flight and freedom.

But before that, I had to pass the second - and far harder - round of medical tests.

To be continued...

Evelyn
02-02-2011, 06:09 AM
Your story has me hanging on every word and checking for a new installment every half hour...

I've probably accounted for about a quarter of all the "views" this thread has, hahaha!!

Petroglyph
02-02-2011, 06:14 AM
:popcorn:

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 06:22 AM
The clinical psychologist didn't look as though she believed me when I said I wasn't anorexic.

"Do you have enough energy to get through your day?" she said.

"Yes," I said, which was the truth.

"You know," she said, "denial is a symptom of anorexia."

What the hell? I thought. If I'd said I didn't have enough energy, I would clearly be anorexic, but since I said I did have enough energy, I was in denial? Well, either way I was screwed, wasn't I?

The evaluation didn't improve from there, and the psychologist's recommendation was that I pay a thousand dirhams to take the MMPI - the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. How that would help me get into Canada was unclear.

I went home, closed the door to my room and cried. Scraping up the thousand dirhams was bad enough, but what if the psychologist just saw me as a skinny little cash cow and kept trying to get more? And I had to have an all-clear from a clinical psychologist before the Canadian High Commission would approve me.

By then it was October, and the school had found me a permanent position as the library assistant. I knew my way around books and loved the job, although before they could hire me I needed my father's permission to work (reason infinity plus two I wanted to be in Canada). I was worried that he might refuse, but he agreed, which was a relief.

Though I wouldn't have drawn the line at faking his signature on the form if he'd refused. When it came to getting into Canada, I was willing to do almost anything.

So after the clinical psychologist debacle, I confided in my supervisor, the librarian. She came up with a very good idea, and arranged for me to meet with the school therapist. She even let me use her office privately for that. And the school therapist was even more helpful. Since she wasn't a clinical psychologist, she couldn't evaluate me but she suggested that I find another qualified psychologist and ask if the Canadian High Commission would accept that psychologist's report.

"And if they say yes, take that psychologist some family photos of yours," she said. "That will show that you're thin because it's genetic." She had several other good suggestions and I soon felt more optimistic. My agent confirmed that another qualified psychologist could evaluate me, and after I booked an appointment I collected some family photos in which everyone looked like a stick figure. Then I took them along to the counseling center where the second psychologist worked.

I didn't expect the place to be out in the boondocks, or that I'd have to cross a poorly lighted construction site to reach it. Halfway through I stumbled and fell into a ditch.

To be continued...

francist44
02-02-2011, 06:34 AM
Damn, I hate the words, To Be Continued!

DamaNegra
02-02-2011, 06:36 AM
Is the news going to be that you just sold your memoir? :D

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 06:48 AM
Even my friends IRL tell me I should write a memoir. :)

***

Luckily I wasn't badly hurt - though that would have been ironic, getting injured in the course of trying to prove I was healthy. I landed on one knee, but I was able to limp to the counseling center to hand over my photos. That was when I realized my cell phone wasn't in my bag any more.

So I spent half an hour retracing my steps to the ditch and then searching it until I found the phone. That was my first cell phone, a Nokia bought with money I'd earned from the school, and I was very proud of it. I was so worried about the phone that I didn't even feel my knee any more.

The second psychologist was quite different from the first. For a start, he'd seen my family photos. And before he even questioned me he looked closely at my fingers, presumably to check if I was shoving them down my throat on a regular basis. I also kept in mind everything the school therapist had told me about tones of voice, body language and so on.

It's not just telling the truth, she had said, it's how you tell the truth.

And I must have done a better job of telling it the second time, because the psychologist said he found no evidence that I had an eating disorder. That was a great relief, and the other tests didn't seem so bad in comparison. Except for the sample I had to provide to rule out something called "Fecal Fat Absorption Disorder". A friend told me that if there really was a disease where you didn't absorb any fat from your food, she wanted it.

The problem was, the only time I could hand in the sample was at eight in the morning and it had to be fresh. So after some thought (obviously not too much), I ate an entire packet of prunes at midnight. Let's just say I won't be repeating that particular tactic, for any medical checkup.

The second set of results went off to the Canadian High Commission early in 2006 and I settled down to wait.

To be continued...

Cranky
02-02-2011, 07:10 AM
The problem was, the only time I could hand in the sample was at eight in the morning and it had to be fresh. So after some thought (obviously not too much), I ate an entire packet of prunes at midnight. Let's just say I won't be repeating that particular tactic, for any medical checkup.


*spews tea on monitor*

:roll:

Keep it coming, QoS! :D

MissAimee
02-02-2011, 07:33 AM
More! More!

Prawn
02-02-2011, 07:43 AM
It's true. I too, must have more. I have a thing for thin brown ex-pat scientist babes, par preference, celles qui parlent francais avec un accent quebecios.

CtS
02-02-2011, 08:45 AM
More please!!!

CACTUSWENDY
02-02-2011, 08:53 AM
My gosh. You sure have staying power when it comes to something you want. lol

We will all have nail less fingers at this rate. :poke: (I refuse to start on my toe nails.)

You better stay up all day and get the rest posted.

Vespertilion
02-02-2011, 10:03 AM
Ack! No! I just read through the thread to get to here!!

MacAllister
02-02-2011, 10:18 AM
AGGHGHHGHG!!! That's all there IS SO FAR????

*Bookmarking thread*

firedrake
02-02-2011, 11:43 AM
More.Now.Please.

benbradley
02-02-2011, 12:33 PM
Hey, you said you had some NEWS, now WTF is it??? My crit is there's not enough news and too much "story behind it" ...

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 01:28 PM
The Canadian High Commission's response came in June 2006.

http://pics.livejournal.com/mdperera/pic/0000dg07

But now I had to somehow pack up and leave without anyone noticing.

To be continued...

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 02:42 PM
It had to be done without anyone noticing. I knew my father liked being able to control me, which was why he consistently refused to give me any of the money that belonged to me. If he learned that I had my visa, he might not be able to put up any legal roadblocks to my leaving, but he wouldn't make it easy either.

Plus, he would probably have made me swear to sponsor him once I was in Canada.

So although I got the visa in June, I said nothing about it online. I couldn't risk him finding out. Thankfully I was persona non grata with everyone in Sri Lanka by then, so I didn't have to hide it from too many people in real life. I just had to wait until he and his second wife left on vacation, which I was sure they would do sooner or later.

I also had to make sure no one else was around. The second wife hadn't wasted too much time in getting him to sponsor her relatives, and there had been three of them in the apartment at different times. The place felt like a motel, and I kept to myself even more than usual. But in July, my father began making travel plans. In the hottest time of summer, most people in Dubai go on vacation.

Unbelievably, though, he picked Canada.

He had a few friends there (fellow ex-expats who had emigrated), so it made sense that he would decide to visit Canada. I was on pins, waiting to see what would happen. I didn't speak to him about it, of course, but there were one or two family friends in Dubai who kept me appraised, and they informed me when the Canadian authorities gave him almost as many hurdles to jump as they had given me.

My father was understandably less invested in spending his time, effort and money on doing so, and decided to visit some other country instead.

At the start of August he and his second wife got ready to leave, and he told me that he would give me some of the money my mother had left me when he returned from his vacation. He made that kind of claim occasionally, holding out a carrot, so I didn't believe a word of it. I resigned from my job and waited.

They left. I immediately called a freight company and arranged for everything I owned, including four hundred books, to be packed. I stripped my room utterly bare, even taking the sheets off the bed. On the evening of August 24, 2006, I left that room for the last time, placing my keys carefully on the dresser before I did. They were the only things of mine that were left behind.

Pulling my suitcase, I shut the front door of the apartment behind me. A family friend had offered me her car (a chauffeured Jaguar!) for my final ride to Dubai International Airport, so I arrived there in some style. The paperwork was all in order and I arrived at the boarding gate. Outside was the plane - perhaps one of the planes I had watched from below during the past year - and after about an hour I was on board.

I spent a few days in the States with a friend, then took another flight northward. On September 5, 2006, I arrived in Canada.

To be continued...

Kewii
02-02-2011, 03:07 PM
Gah...I am sitting at my computer pressing refresh but nothing is updating ;)

I want to hear the rest :)

I was intrigued near the beginning, when you were talking about no one wanting to hire you in the states after 9/11. My boyfriend went through the same thing. He's Kuwaiti and the HR sections of companies wouldn't approve his employment.

regdog
02-02-2011, 03:30 PM
Next installment, please.

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 04:18 PM
So there I was, in the Promised Land.

Since I had provincial migration through Quebec I had to enter the country at Pierre Trudeau Airport, but I didn't know anyone in Montreal. On the other hand, an old friend of my mother's lived in Toronto. Her name was Mallika. She had moved there ten years before, and had recommended her immigration agent to me as a result. So I'd kept in touch, and before leaving for Canada, I'd asked her if I could stay with her for a few days to get my bearings.

She agreed, but told me there were certain rules to follow in her house. I should have been warned by that, but I naively thought these would be rules along the lines of "pick up after yourself", which I could certainly do.

I took another plane to Toronto and then a taxi to Mallika's house. It looked like something out of a glossy magazine... meticulously arranged, perfect and untouched. And here were a few of Mallika's rules for keeping it that way :

1. No touching the walls.

2. No using the toaster when Mallika wasn't there, in case I burned the house down. I'd operated ultracentrifuges and PCR machines in the States, and I'd never burned a laboratory down.

3. Correct footwear had to be worn at all times. There were four pairs of flip-flops at the kitchen door - black, red, blue and white. One pair was to be worn if you were going into the basement, another if you were using the kitchen and a third for the porch. I forgot what the fourth pair was for. I also kept getting the various colors mixed up, which didn't endear me to my host.

4. No flushing feminine protection down the toilet. This rule was repeated to me three times, as if I was thirteen and had lived in a slum all my life.

Since it was Mallika's house and I was her guest, I obeyed all the rules and said nothing, but I seemed to keep making mistakes. For instance, while I was in the shower, I put a bottle of shampoo on the edge of the bathtub. The bottle fell off into the bathtub with a little thump.

Next thing I knew, Mallika was at the bathroom door. "What happened?" she said. "I dropped a bottle of shampoo," I said. "Oh, my God," she said, as if I'd cracked the bathtub in two.

On the first day that I arrived in Toronto, I reached her house late at night, exhausted from running to catch planes - there had been a problem with a flight. The next morning, she insisted that I go to the Service Canada center and get all my paperwork sorted out, so I did, but since it was a thirty-minute walk to (and from) the place, I was tired. I went to the room she'd given me and had a nap, for which she called me a weakling.

By then it was obvious why she lived alone, despite struggling to maintain that house on one person's salary (she could have rented the basement, but I would have pitied the tenants). It was also very clear that she wanted me out as soon as possible.

On the plus side, I heard from a family friend in Dubai about what happened when my father came back from his vacation. Seems he discovered my empty, stripped-bare room and panicked. He then had to make some calls to find out what had happened to his daughter, though he shouldn't have been surprised. Adults don't need to tell other people their plans, remember?

To be continued...

heyjude
02-02-2011, 05:34 PM
::drums fingers on keyboard::

Grrarrgh
02-02-2011, 05:49 PM
F5 F5 F5 F5 F5 F5 F5.........

dolores haze
02-02-2011, 05:50 PM
This better have a happy ending.

Calla Lily
02-02-2011, 05:54 PM
Augh! I was sure I'd wake up this morning and it'd be complete!

stormie
02-02-2011, 06:03 PM
This thread is only three days old, and already has 1,200 views.

MissAimee
02-02-2011, 06:48 PM
More waiting???? You are so evil.:evil

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 07:38 PM
Augh! I was sure I'd wake up this morning and it'd be complete!

Technically it's going to be complete on Friday afternoon... but you'll see what I mean. ;)

Thanks for reading, everyone!

****

At least I was no longer dangerously short of money, thanks to my mother's ten thousand dollars. I could now use that to rent an apartment without fear of the Canadian High Commission turning me down. And Mallika was getting antsy enough that it looked as though I had better do that soon.

Fortunately she was so keen on getting me out that she found the apartment herself. That was one of the first trips out that we took, since she wasn't interested in showing me around Toronto or anything like that (though I went to a pub to meet some of the Internet Infidels in Toronto and we had a great time). The apartment was a basement, but it was spacious, reasonably priced and in a good location, so I decided to take it and my landlady, Kathy, gave me the keys. That Wednesday, I also bought a bed, dresser and computer table, which would be delivered to the basement on Saturday.

Mallika suggested I move out on Friday. I said there was no furniture; where was I going to sleep?

On Kathy's sofa, was her idea.

I didn't particularly like the sound of that, so on Thursday I called one of the guys who I'd met at the pub and asked if he could help me move at least the mattress into the basement, so I could sleep there. I left a note for Mallika to tell her where I'd gone, but when I came back after moving the mattress, she was furious.

"If you have so many friends in Toronto, why didn't you stay with them?" she shouted. "This is my bloody house! You think just because you have an education you can act like this? What kind of a woman are you?"

It was such an irrational tirade that I had no idea how to respond - and looking back on it, I don't think it even had anything to do with me specifically. She was just angry for some reason, perhaps because I had friends or because I had touched a wall or because I was an organic being within the perfect sterile environment of her house. So I said I would move out. By now it was eight in the night, and dark outside.

"Fine," she said. "I'll drive you there tomorrow."

"Don't bother." I had my pride too. "I'm going now, and I'll come back tomorrow for my things."

Thankfully I had subway tokens. So I packed one suitcase, all I could carry with me, and left for my landlady's place. I had a small coffee maker, so I bought a box of teabags and a carton of milk from a nearby store, then sat on the mattress in the empty basement and made some tea to settle my nerves.

Once that was done I went to a nearby internet cafe to tell my online friends what had happened. They were sympathetic, and one of the Toronto Infidels offered to come with me to get the rest of my things the next morning.

"Make sure you touch the walls," someone else suggested.

But we arrived there the next day to find that Mallika wasn't going to let us anywhere near the walls. Instead, she kept us on the porch while she handed out my suitcases. "And don't expect me to forward you any mail that gets sent here," she warned me.

"Well, my SIN card is going to be sent here," I said. "And I don't think it's legal for you to keep that." But I took the precaution of applying for a new card anyway, later.

My friend and I took my suitcases back to my basement apartment and he told me I was lucky to have gotten away when I did. "That woman is crazy," he said. "If you'd stayed there any longer, she might have tried to strangle you in your sleep."

Whether or not I had escaped the Canadian version of the Bates Motel, living in Kathy's house was almost like having a home of my own, except with a landlady who frequently shared home-cooked meals with me and never failed to invite me to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with her family. I've put on ten pounds since I came here. So that part of it worked out well.

Now all I needed was a job... and hopefully, one day, Canadian citizenship.

To be continued...

regdog
02-02-2011, 07:57 PM
Friday, it's only Wednesday

Calla Lily
02-02-2011, 08:02 PM
Friday, it's only Wednesday

Augh!

firedrake
02-02-2011, 08:04 PM
Arghh!!!

Friday!?!?!?!?!

*stocks up on popcorn*

*waits*

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 08:12 PM
Oh, don't worry, guys. I expect to finish this story today. :)

****

My father, for some reason, was still trying to contact me. Since he had ignored me when I was in Dubai, I didn't think I needed to speak to him once I was in Canada. So I blocked his email address.

He tried sending me e-cards. I didn't accept any of those, and blocked those email addresses too.

Then he tried to friend me on Facebook. Please, get a grip! If a woman moves to the other side of the world to get away from you, maybe - just maybe - she doesn't want to be your Facebook friend. It was creepy and made me feel as though I was being cyberstalked. But I was determined to give him no reaction or response at all (other than blocking the email addresses) and eventually his attempts at contact tapered off and stopped.

I had far more on my mind than him, though - my first priority was getting a job. Although I had a master's degree in microbiology, it had been a long time since I'd actually worked in a lab, and in Canada I needed certification from the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Sciences.

Since I wasn't quite sure where to start with that one, I took a job in a call center - a rite of passage that I think a lot of immigrants go through. It was terrible, since I had to invite people to sign up for credit cards. I wasn't good at cold-calling, the constant talking made my throat hurt, people hate telemarketers in general and I didn't like my work. One conversation :

Prospective customer : I'm not interested.
Me : Well, sir, could I ask what you need in a credit card? Because we have another--
Prospective customer : Is this call recorded?
Me : Yes, it is.
Prospective customer : Then play back the part where I said I wasn't interested.

I quit after five days.

To be continued...

Calla Lily
02-02-2011, 08:14 PM
*whew*

aliajohnson
02-02-2011, 08:17 PM
This better have a happy ending.

I second this.

MissAimee
02-02-2011, 08:32 PM
I thought I would die if I had to wait till Friday.. Thank you for being Wednesday.

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 08:46 PM
There was a position open at another call center.

Granted, this one was better. It was owned by a medical laboratory network and paid $12.50 an hour (I'd been getting $7 - $11 an hour at the credit card place). I decided that this was the closest I might come to a job in science at the time, and at least it would pay the bills while I figured out what to do next.

The job wasn't easy, though. People are much less likely to swear at you over the phone if they've called in to check which of your patient service centers is open, but the work wasn't exactly fulfilling either. And once the initial relief of having a full-time job again abated, I knew that this had to be my stepping-stone to something better.

For one thing, I wanted a home of my own - I'd lived in rented apartments all my life - and yet I couldn't afford a condo on $12.50 an hour. I was extremely frugal and didn't have any major expenses other than rent, so I was able to save some money, but I would have liked more. Plus, customer service really wasn't my forte. I'd always been happier in a lab.

Sometimes I would call the labs downstairs from the center to clarify results in patients' reports. The technicians who answered the phone always responded by calling a technologist, or asking me to call back when the technologist was there. So I decided that I needed to be a technologist too.

I kept working, to save money for my education in case I didn't get financial aid, but in January 2009 I applied to the medical laboratory technology programs of two colleges in Toronto. One of them was the Michener Institute of Applied Health Sciences. In May 2009, they called me for what would be the weirdest interview of my life (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141299&highlight=interview).

And knowing my life, that's saying something.

To be continued...

Cranky
02-02-2011, 08:55 PM
It's been nine whole minutes since the last installment. WHAT'S THE HOLDUP, MISSY?!

:D

Williebee
02-02-2011, 09:03 PM
Prospective customer : Is this call recorded?
Me : Yes, it is.
Prospective customer : Then play back the part where I said I wasn't interested.

That's brilliant. I will use this. :)

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 09:05 PM
In June, the Michener Institute sent me an acceptance letter. I quit my job. I could have worked up till September, when classes started, but I wanted to have a vacation, and that gave me enough time to edit and revise a manuscript called Before the Storm. I sent it to Samhain Publishing over the summer.

I enjoyed studying medical laboratory technology and I liked the Michener campus. The call center where I had worked was near the Etobicoke airport, and not even the planes overhead could quite compensate for an hour-and-a-half commute which seemed even longer in the winter. Michener was downtown, much easier to access, and just a friendlier environment altogether.

In September 2009 I also passed the three-year mark in Canada, which meant I was now eligible to apply for citizenship. I did so at once, filling in all the forms carefully, paying the $200 fee and checking everything three times before I mailed off the packet.

Up till then, Canada and I had only been living together. It was time to tie the knot.

To be continued...

CtS
02-02-2011, 09:09 PM
*jabs refresh key impatiently*

Snowstorm
02-02-2011, 09:20 PM
Gah! Yer killin' me!

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 09:23 PM
Citizenship and Immigration Canada made it clear that they might take up to 16 months to respond after receipt of my application packet.

I was lucky. They only took 13 months. In October 2010, as I was in my second year of college, I received a date for my citizenship exam - December 2nd (coincidentally, the national day of the United Arab Emirates, where I used to live). There was also a booklet on Canada's history, geography, economy and culture, from which test questions would be drawn.

I studied that intensively. Sadly, I've forgotten most of it now, though I still remember the picture of cattle under the heading for Alberta, which was how I memorized the fact that Alberta was the largest producer of natural gas (cattle = methane).

The exam itself was easier than I expected, certainly far easier than the Michener Institute's histotechnology tests. I've always spoken fluent English, and the exam was only twenty questions. Some were incredibly easy :

When you vote, what do you put on the ballot?

A. Your name

B. An X next to the candidate you are voting for

What was the significance of the discovery of insulin?

A. It played a role in the space program

B. It saved the lives of millions of people with diabetes

Some weren't :

Which province supplies the most hydroelectricity?

But it wasn't too bad, on the whole, and I only had to get fifteen questions right. I was told that if I passed, Citizenship and Immigration Canada would contact me within the next three months.

To be continued...

CACTUSWENDY
02-02-2011, 09:23 PM
<<<<<<wipes sweat from brow. I'm so glad this is going to be finished soon. My nerves can not take much more.

Just so you know....I am typing this with my toes now as my fingers are sore from the nibbling I have done to them. :poke:

Bookewyrme
02-02-2011, 09:27 PM
Wow. I'm with your friend, you're lucky to have escaped that Mallika woman! What a nutter!

*waits impatiently for next bit*

Calla Lily
02-02-2011, 09:29 PM
I've been away from AW for a WHOLE HOUR and you're not done?! Gah!

MissAimee
02-02-2011, 09:31 PM
Pounds head on desk.. I hate waiting!!! I hate waiting!!!

Grrarrgh
02-02-2011, 09:39 PM
You. Are. Killing. Me.

Marian Perera
02-02-2011, 09:59 PM
I was lucky again. The letter arrived from Citizenship and Immigration Canada just under two months later.

http://pics.livejournal.com/mdperera/pic/0000sspg/s640x480

On the day after tomorrow, I'll be a Canadian citizen. Just a happy coincidence that this is the same week during which my first novel has been released in paperback. :)

It's been a long journey, friends, but I'm finally home.

Thanks for reading.


THE END

Snowstorm
02-02-2011, 10:03 PM
Well, hot dang! Congratulations and thank you for posting such a gripping tale of your life. And for sharing it with your friends on AW!

dgrintalis
02-02-2011, 10:04 PM
Oh my goodness! Many, many congratulations!!! I am so happy your story has a happy ending!!! :snoopy:

Cranky
02-02-2011, 10:05 PM
Haha, yes! It's the happy ending I was hoping for! Congratulations! :snoopy:

*offers QoS a fist bump of victory*

CACTUSWENDY
02-02-2011, 10:06 PM
Oh Queen, I am sooooooooo HAPPY for you.

What a rite of passage. I wish you happiness and success with both areas.
:Hug2: :Hug2: :Hug2:

ChaosTitan
02-02-2011, 10:06 PM
What a terrific, inspiring, beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing your determination and courage with us.

firedrake
02-02-2011, 10:09 PM
Wow.Just.Wow.

Many, many congratulations. :hooray:

Thank you for sharing your incredible story.

Tasmin21
02-02-2011, 10:10 PM
:snoopy: Welcome home!

Calla Lily
02-02-2011, 10:11 PM
:snoopy: What an amazing story, QoS! Many congratulations and thank you for telling us.

Now--go write that memoir! :D

stormie
02-02-2011, 10:12 PM
On the day after tomorrow, I'll be a Canadian citizen. Just a happy coincidence that this is the same week during which my first novel has been released in paperback. :)

It's been a long journey, friends, but I'm finally home. :hooray:


Thanks for reading.


THE END

Thanks so much for writing all this. And sharing your story! That you went through so much to get to where you are today, is truly amazing.

Citizenship and your book in paperback at the same time--perfect!

dolores haze
02-02-2011, 10:12 PM
And Marion and Canada lived happily ever after...

Congratulations! And thank you for sharing your story.

*waves Canadian flag*

Bookewyrme
02-02-2011, 10:12 PM
Hehe, I clicked through to your blog and saw that just before you posted. That's awesome, QoS, on both counts. Congratulations, and hopefully things settle down for you now! Thank you for sharing. ^_^

MissAimee
02-02-2011, 10:14 PM
Wow that was a great story and a very happy ending.. Congrats!

CheekyWench
02-02-2011, 10:15 PM
:hooray: :hooray: Home Sweet Home!! :hooray: :hooray:

Phaeal
02-02-2011, 10:32 PM
What does one wear to an oath-taking ceremony?

CGs! Ever consider memoir writing?

heyjude
02-02-2011, 10:37 PM
QoS, congratulations. I'm so happy for you!

I second (seventeenth?) the motion for a memoir.

Vespertilion
02-02-2011, 10:44 PM
! :CONFETTI: !

Congratulations, QoS!

Jessianodel
02-02-2011, 10:47 PM
Wow that's amazing! I'm really glad I only found this thread after you finished ^.^ Yay for happy endings!

Kitty Pryde
02-02-2011, 10:57 PM
Oh, I do love a happy ending! :D

Ann_Mayburn
02-02-2011, 11:00 PM
I love you(not in a creppy weirdo way-but in a wow your a super person way)! Your story really touched me and so so glad that after all that crap you made it. You are such a strong and inspiring woman.-hugs-

Chris1981
02-02-2011, 11:17 PM
Congrats on the citizenship *and* the book. :)

Consider this another vote for a memoir, by the way.

clockwork
02-02-2011, 11:30 PM
I was lucky again. The letter arrived from Citizenship and Immigration Canada just under two months later.


I wouldn't say you were lucky. I'd say you made it happen. You created it all for yourself, and you suffered and sacrificed and fought for every last piece of it. Truly inspirational - thank you for sharing your beautiful story. :Hug2:

Steam&Ink
02-02-2011, 11:52 PM
:partyguy: How wonderful! Your story is so compelling... thanks for sharing.

And here's to tomorrow being the first day of the rest of your (long, happy, successful) life! :e2drunk:

Evelyn
02-03-2011, 12:08 AM
Congratulations!

I'm so glad everything worked out for you.

PattiTheWicked
02-03-2011, 12:12 AM
Congratulations! This is so exciting for you. I feel like we should throw you a party on Friday!

:::tosses confetti:::

Old Hack
02-03-2011, 12:22 AM
Oh, Marian, that's a fabulous, inspiring and bizarre story. I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that; and so thrilled for you, for that happy ending.

I'll be thinking of you when you go and make your oath.

You great big CANADIAN, you.

xxxx

Williebee
02-03-2011, 01:04 AM
Congratulations! I mean, I, like all the others are really happy for you.

BUT....


What about the hydroelectricity question??????


:)

SaraP
02-03-2011, 01:39 AM
Wow that's amazing! I'm really glad I only found this thread after you finished ^.^ Yay for happy endings!

Wow, me too. I kept looking at page 5 wondering how this would end.


I wouldn't say you were lucky. I'd say you made it happen. You created it all for yourself, and you suffered and sacrificed and fought for every last piece of it. Truly inspirational - thank you for sharing your beautiful story. :Hug2:

So this, every word. Amazing.

Well done, you.

Uncarved
02-03-2011, 01:48 AM
Please Queen, PLEASE listen to us and flesh this out more, put in more back story to your dad and the new wife or something, but PLEASE turn this into a memoir....its spellbinding;)

benbradley
02-03-2011, 02:24 AM
Thank goodness you finally got to the point - I was about to fall off the edge of my seat!

Congratulations! :snoopy:

Marian Perera
02-03-2011, 04:00 AM
Well, hot dang! Congratulations and thank you for posting such a gripping tale of your life. And for sharing it with your friends on AW!

Thanks for reading! I wanted to tell everyone about my citizenship, but I thought that unless I also told the story leading up to this point, it might not be evident how much the citizenship means to me.


Oh my goodness! Many, many congratulations!!! I am so happy your story has a happy ending!!!

Me too. :) You should have seen what it was like four years ago when I was a member of the Internet Infidels and kept everyone on that discussion board informed during each step of the process. No one knew how it would turn out back then, so the tension ran even higher.


Haha, yes! It's the happy ending I was hoping for! Congratulations!

I don't expect the universe to be fair... but it does feel so good when things work out as they should!


Oh Queen, I am sooooooooo HAPPY for you.

What a rite of passage. I wish you happiness and success with both areas.

Thank you! This is the best week of my life, and it feels even better to share it with this community.


What a terrific, inspiring, beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing your determination and courage with us.

Thanks very much, CT. I honestly don't feel as though I was brave, because I didn't have too many options other than trying to get out of the Middle East by any means necessary. It was like jumping out of a burning building. I'm just glad I landed on my feet.


Wow.Just.Wow.

Many, many congratulations. :hooray:

Thank you for sharing your incredible story.

Thank you for listening!


Welcome home!

Feels great to be here. Even when it's freezing outside. :)


What an amazing story, QoS! Many congratulations and thank you for telling us.

Now--go write that memoir!

...must finish sequel first...


Thanks so much for writing all this. And sharing your story! That you went through so much to get to where you are today, is truly amazing.

Compared to some of the really disturbing tales I've heard from people who were caught in the ethnic riots in Sri Lanka, I didn't go through that much, but all the same, it wasn't easy to get here. So I'm very happy to be able to celebrate this with all of you. :)


And Marion and Canada lived happily ever after...

...because Marian always paid her taxes on time. :D


Hehe, I clicked through to your blog and saw that just before you posted. That's awesome, QoS, on both counts. Congratulations, and hopefully things settle down for you now!

Thanks, but somehow I doubt things are ever going to be completely settled for me. It's like that curse, "May you live in interesting times." Something unexpected always seems to be lurking around the corner... though I'd probably be bored if I had too predictable a life.


Wow that was a great story and a very happy ending.. Congrats!

With the number of people posting and reading, I didn't dare give you guys a tragic story. :)

Marian Perera
02-03-2011, 04:17 AM
:hooray: :hooray: Home Sweet Home!! :hooray: :hooray:

I am no longer a stranger in a strange land...


What does one wear to an oath-taking ceremony?

CGs! Ever consider memoir writing?

Does this really seem memoir material? I thought it was more of a up-and-down sad/funny story with some really bizarre moments, unlike memoirs which expose problems in the foster care system or abuse in the Catholic Church and so on.


QoS, congratulations. I'm so happy for you!

I second (seventeenth?) the motion for a memoir.

Thanks! And now I keep thinking of a travelogue/memoir, sort of like Eat Pray Love minus the eating and praying.


Congratulations, QoS!

Thanks, Clovia! I can't wait for Friday.


Wow that's amazing! I'm really glad I only found this thread after you finished ^.^ Yay for happy endings!

I have this habit of ending chapters on cliffhangers, so yes, it's a good thing you found the thread after it was finished. :) But I always have happy endings in my fiction. It's just good to have real life do the same for a change.


Oh, I do love a happy ending! :D

A happy ending to this story, anyway.

<ominous>There could always be a sequel. </ominous>


I love you(not in a creppy weirdo way-but in a wow your a super person way)! Your story really touched me and so so glad that after all that crap you made it. You are such a strong and inspiring woman.-hugs-

Aww, thank you! *hugs back* I hope I take after my mom that way.


Congrats on the citizenship *and* the book. :)

Consider this another vote for a memoir, by the way.

I never thought I'd write non-fiction, but you guys have me thinking...

Thanks for the kind words!


I wouldn't say you were lucky. I'd say you made it happen. You created it all for yourself, and you suffered and sacrificed and fought for every last piece of it.

With a lot of help from my friends, and with my mother's love and support. :) But you're right, it was worked for. The only luck came in the CIC responding quicker than I expected... and even then, given how many years it had taken to get here, I was prepared to wait longer.

Thank you for reading and commenting!


How wonderful! Your story is so compelling... thanks for sharing.

And here's to tomorrow being the first day of the rest of your (long, happy, successful) life!

Thanks! And my life had better be long... the list of "Things I Must Write" seems inexhaustible. :D

Marian Perera
02-03-2011, 04:35 AM
Congratulations!

I'm so glad everything worked out for you.

Thanks, Evelyn! It was fun to tell this story to such an encouraging audience.


Congratulations! This is so exciting for you. I feel like we should throw you a party on Friday!

If I had one, you would all be invited. :)

I'm going to celebrate with a few friends from school, though I think we'll all be too tired to do much partying. It's been a hectic week, especially with doing promotion for the book on top of keeping up with classes.


Oh, Marian, that's a fabulous, inspiring and bizarre story. I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that; and so thrilled for you, for that happy ending.

I'll be thinking of you when you go and make your oath.

You great big CANADIAN, you.

I guess I am bigger now. :) And most definitely Canadian.

Thanks so much, Jane!


Congratulations! I mean, I, like all the others are really happy for you.

BUT....


What about the hydroelectricity question??????

Quebec. I got that one right!


I kept looking at page 5 wondering how this would end.

I'm glad you didn't check my blog for the answer. :D


Please Queen, PLEASE listen to us and flesh this out more, put in more back story to your dad and the new wife or something, but PLEASE turn this into a memoir....its spellbinding

Maybe I could tell the story of what happened when I traveled through the States en route to Canada. Three words : Transportation Security Administration.


Thank goodness you finally got to the point - I was about to fall off the edge of my seat!

LOL - sorry for keeping you in suspense so long. :D

Thanks for reading, everyone!

DamaNegra
02-03-2011, 04:40 AM
Oh this is amazing! :) I'm so happy for you, QoS! You're right, knowing the backstory to your citizenship really makes me appreciate how much it means to you, and now I'm crying happy tears for you! You are an amazing person and you really deserve this :) Congratulations!

Mr Flibble
02-03-2011, 05:31 AM
About bloody time woman!


Ps I love your name.

Go you!

http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2010/219/3/5/Happy_Birthday_Fella__D_by_zakarranda.gif

Prawn
02-03-2011, 06:11 AM
Your father just tried to FB friend me to get to you. I told him that if he wanted you, he could always buy your book, coming out this week...

I read the first chapter on your site, by the way and really enjoyed it!

HannahH
02-03-2011, 11:28 AM
All I can say is "Wow". Do you realise you have become a Twitter sensation? You're going to have agents and publishers knocking down your door wanting you to write this as a memoir.

Forget Eat, Love, Pray, yours is a unique, truly inspirational tale that even in its brief form here had me happy, sad, snarling at the injustice, and in the end, shedding a tear for your happy ending.

Your mother will be very very proud of you.

lastlittlebird
02-03-2011, 01:49 PM
So freakin' awesome. Thanks for sharing.

regdog
02-03-2011, 04:48 PM
http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l117/regdog/fireworks.jpg

http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l117/regdog/untitled-3.jpg

http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l117/regdog/event.jpg

Perks
02-03-2011, 05:49 PM
Okay. You can stay here, too, as a citizen of AW.

Also, you are amazing.

(And, apparently, amazingly small. :))

Thank you for this.

stormie
02-03-2011, 05:55 PM
Definitely memoir material. Does this really seem memoir material? I thought it was more of a up-and-down sad/funny story....
The way you told it, the way you kept us guessing, the "Siddown" people. Have you read 'Tis by Frank McCourt? Your story is told in a similar fashion, only I think yours is even better. :)

Ol' Fashioned Girl
02-03-2011, 07:21 PM
'The End'? No! Just the beginning... and may it be the beginning of the longest, happiest life you can imagine.

Now... if you'll excuse me... I must go get something out of my eyes. For some reason, I can't get them to stop watering.

What?

Me? The Daughter of Darkness? Cry?

Never!

honeysock
02-03-2011, 07:31 PM
This is my favoritest thread EVER.

QoS, when it comes time to query (notice I said "when" and not "if") your memoir, I suggest:

"Dear Agent,
[insert link to this thread]
You're welcome. : ) "

MaryMumsy
02-04-2011, 01:48 AM
Many congrats, Marian. A truly awesome and inspiring story. May you have a long and happy life in Canada. And I agree, your Mother would be proud.

MM

stormie
02-04-2011, 02:00 AM
Over 2,400 views since Jan.31. Is that a record?

Bluestone
02-04-2011, 08:53 PM
I am so glad I came across this thread today so that I could read your story all the way through at one sitting. And glad I persevered too, because I've been around these boards long enough to be a bit turned off by long posts, which can signal a rambling, boring rant. Yours is anything but! It was captivating from beginning to end.

Your citizenship date, if today, is inded auspicious, falling on my birthday! Congratulations for that and the publication of your book!! Incredibly happy for you. May you have many more wonderful milestones to celebrate.

(and please come back and tell us if your father ever gave you any of your inheritance money - I'm still angry about that on your behalf)

Daddyo
02-04-2011, 09:17 PM
I-n-s-p-i-r-i-n-g!

strawberryblondie
02-04-2011, 09:56 PM
What an amazing story. Congratulations!

Namatu
02-04-2011, 10:38 PM
Does this really seem memoir material?YES!

Congratulations! You have so much determination and courage and fabulosity, QoS!

Grrarrgh
02-05-2011, 12:20 AM
:hooray::partyguy:

CaroGirl
02-05-2011, 12:21 AM
I'm glad I waited and read your story all at once. The waiting between excerpts would've killed me!!

Welcome to CANADA as a REAL Canadian!! I hope to meet up with you someday, at some writers' do or another. It's a big country, but a small world.

And congratulations on the novel!!

Calla Lily
02-05-2011, 12:22 AM
Queen, if I could somehow cajole the publicity dept. into scheduling me a signing in Quebec, I claim you for a drink afterward!

Maryn
02-05-2011, 12:29 AM
O Canada (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwDvF0NtgdU).(Or, if you don't care for that version, any of dozens of excellent renditions.)

Maryn, waving from the other side of Lake Ontario

Karen Junker
02-05-2011, 12:29 AM
Congratulations! I'm so very happy for you -- thank you for sharing your inspiring story!

Storyteller5
02-05-2011, 12:56 AM
Here's to your first weekend as a Canadian citizen! Cheers from one Canadian to another! :snoopy:

Boston Steve
02-05-2011, 01:20 AM
What an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Congratulations on the citizenship and the book.

Jon Rowlison
02-05-2011, 01:22 AM
I feel kind of dumb now... writing on your wall and not even knowing you became a Canadian citizen today. Congratulations! Here's to an even better rest-of-the-month (if that's even possible at this point.)

KTC
02-05-2011, 01:29 AM
Congratulations! Wonderful NEWS!

entropic island
02-05-2011, 02:11 AM
This - just - oh my goodness. This is one of the most inspirational and moving stories I've ever read.

batgirl
02-05-2011, 02:21 AM
Great story! And Canada is lucky to have you (Quebec gets all the cool people...)
-Barbara

Nicrsing7
02-05-2011, 02:25 AM
Congrats Marian! On the citizenship and the book - way to go, girl!

Good Word
02-05-2011, 02:54 AM
Marian, you are an amazing woman. Congratulations on your book and your citizenship--Canada is lucky to have you!

PriyankaB
02-05-2011, 03:03 AM
That is an incredible story! I definitely think it's memoir material- your passion and determination were so inspiring! Congratulations on becoming a Canadian citizen!!

benbradley
02-05-2011, 03:09 AM
And you've really made The Big Time now, look at the top of this page!!!

http://absolutewrite.com/forums

:D

:snoopy:

Netz
02-05-2011, 03:58 AM
Like others on this thread I'm glad I only discovered it today - the tension was getting unbearable!

Congratulations, QoS, on becoming a Canadian citizen and on your book coming out. Truly inspiring! :Hug2:

(And it clears up the mystery of the Congrats bit at the top of the page, so I'm pleased.)

amergina
02-05-2011, 04:40 AM
Wow Wow! Congratulations! What a long journey!

I'm glad, too, that I read this today. I would have broken my F5 key, otherwise.

Georgina
02-05-2011, 04:48 AM
Congratulations! I hope you and Canada have many happy years together.

1000th Sun
02-05-2011, 05:25 AM
It's a bit belated but congratulations. :)

bettielee
02-05-2011, 05:43 AM
I clicked the big Canada flag and read this...


and I'm spent! AND I didn't have to live thru it.

Biggest of congratulations!! I was going to try and refrain from posting a Princess Kitteh... this is a serious thread.


BUT I JUST CAN'T!

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b40/bettieleetwo/princesskitteh.jpg

*collapses*

Sai
02-05-2011, 06:16 AM
Congrats Queen of Swords! From one Canuck to another: welcome home!

Lainey Bancroft
02-05-2011, 06:52 AM
Welcome home, Marian! What a journey you've had.

We're damn cold here at the wrong time of year, but we're warmhearted year 'round.

Snowstorm
02-05-2011, 06:58 AM
Congratulations are called for, ay! You're the perfect example that working hard, being self-reliant, and looking long term can work out so well.

Well done, Queen of Swords!!!

Synonym
02-05-2011, 07:06 AM
Congratulations. This has been a wonderful, inspiring story to read.

Another thing it's done is make me realize that no matter what the faults might be, I am very lucky to be living where I am. The next time I feel like griping, I'll remember your story and the struggle you went through to get to this continent. Thanks for sharing.

merrihiatt
02-05-2011, 07:27 AM
Oh, Marian, I could not be more THRILLED for you. I'm thinking August 24th needs to be a holiday for you every year and proclaimed FREEDOM DAY! I absolutely want to read a detailed book about all of this. I, too, am glad I read the thread after it was complete. I would have been biting my nails along with everyone else otherwise.

Kate Thornton
02-05-2011, 07:39 AM
I just found and read this whole thread.
Marian, I am crying like a baby & congratulating you like crazy. Well done and what an inspiration you are. I am so proud to know you on this board.



..

Marian Perera
02-05-2011, 07:49 AM
Thank you to everyone, and especially Mac! It was a wonderful surprise to go to AW as I usually do and then see the flag at the top, plus the congratulations.

I just got back from a party my friends threw to celebrate, but I'll say a little more about the ceremony when I'm not full and tipsy. :) For now, though, here's a picture.

http://pics.livejournal.com/mdperera/pic/0000t8qa/s640x480

That's me (on the left) with the judge. It's done, completed, fini... and possibly the best day of my life.

milly
02-05-2011, 07:58 AM
wow, how wonderful

:)

Congratulations!

Darzian
02-05-2011, 08:04 AM
Congratulations QoS! I'm from S Lanka as well, and now here in Toronto, and the part about looking up at flights and waiting to be on one totally hit home! I'm very happy for you. :D

And I love AW for the show of support for her and Canada. The strength of the community here is overwhelming.

http://www.your3dsource.com/images/congratulationblueglow.gif

Chumplet
02-05-2011, 08:15 AM
I started reading this at work earlier today and had to finish it this evening.

I'm just north of Toronto and you can touch my walls any time you want.

Erin
02-05-2011, 09:15 AM
What an amazing and inspiring story! CONGRATULATIONS on becoming a Canadian citizen and on the release of your book! May today mark the beginning of a wonderful new life for you.

kaitie
02-05-2011, 10:01 AM
What an amazing story. I was so enthralled, and I have the utmost respect for you. Congratulations! :snoopy:

cscarlet
02-05-2011, 10:46 AM
... I don't know what to say. I don't know how I missed this, and I was supposed to be in bed over an hour ago but I just sat here reading. I think I chewed my thumbnails off, and I've been working on letting my nails grow out for over a year.

Please please please put this into a memoir.

And above all, you have my most heartfelt congratulations. This was amazing. YOU are amazing. You deserve nothing but the best and I hope your life from this point forward is everything that fairytales are made of.

agentpaper
02-05-2011, 03:04 PM
OMG! You had me crying several times during this thread. And, while I'm glad I didn't have to wait for the postings, I'm so sorry to have missed this until now. HUGE congratulations to you. After everything you've gone through you must be taking huge lungfuls of fresh air. Your mother would have been so proud of you.

I was going to say a bunch of other stuff, but it was too sappy, so I'll just say CONGRATULATIONS again. :hooray::Hug2::snoopy::partyguy::banana::Cake::Par tySmil:TheWave:

Also, you have my unending devotion for your perseverance. :Hail::Hail:

Ken
02-05-2011, 04:13 PM
... congrats :-)
Sharp looking cover.
Nice, subdued colors.

firedrake
02-05-2011, 04:20 PM
That photo says it all.

Brilliant.

You do realize that there were probably hundreds of AW members with you in spirit at your Oath taking, don't you? :D

So very thrilled for you.

folkchick
02-05-2011, 05:05 PM
Simply amazing. Congratulations!!

LfB
02-05-2011, 07:02 PM
Phew! I'm glad I'm only seeing this thread now because by the time I got to page 2, I was sweating bullets that I'd reach the end and there'd be no conclusion! You've been on quite an adventure!

:hooray:
Thanks so much for writing all this. And sharing your story! That you went through so much to get to where you are today, is truly amazing.

Citizenship and your book in paperback at the same time--perfect!

This. :)


I love you(not in a creppy weirdo way-but in a wow your a super person way)! Your story really touched me and so so glad that after all that crap you made it. You are such a strong and inspiring woman.-hugs-
And this. :)

CONGRATS!

Snowstorm
02-05-2011, 07:08 PM
Thank you for posting the photo on your best day! What a thrill. :Hug2:

Satori1977
02-05-2011, 08:16 PM
What an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Truly inspirational. You worked for hard for this, and you deserve it. I know you will do well in Canada, and will be much more appreciated for being the strong and intelligent woman you are.

AuburnAssassin
02-05-2011, 08:45 PM
I'm so glad this thread was stickied. I just read the whole thing in one sitting (well, took one break to answer nature's call) and then totally lost my waterworks when I saw the image of your invitation to take the oath of citizenship.

Though I'm very sorry about your mother and all the other difficulties with your family, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! on your citizenship, your book, your life. Wonderful read. Thank you.

Bluestone
02-05-2011, 08:48 PM
Love the photo, Marian. It completes the story - for now! - and gives us a wonderfully happy image of you.

Congratulations again!

Write. That. Memoir.

Marian Perera
02-05-2011, 09:15 PM
I'm so happy for you, QoS! You're right, knowing the backstory to your citizenship really makes me appreciate how much it means to you, and now I'm crying happy tears for you! You are an amazing person and you really deserve this

Thank you so much! I didn't mean to make anyone cry, but I'm glad they're happy tears.


About bloody time woman!

Ps I love your name.

No kidding about the time. That's why I wished so many times that my parents had emigrated back in the eighties. There would have been so much less red tape.

And I'm pleased you like my name. :) I picked the handle "Queen of Swords" because I thought I had a pedestrian real name - there were at least seven pages of Pereras in the phone book for Colombo, Sri Lanka.

But looking on the bright side, my last name could have been something like Jayasekara or Karunaratne, so I'll be grateful.


Your father just tried to FB friend me to get to you. I told him that if he wanted you, he could always buy your book, coming out this week...

I read the first chapter on your site, by the way and really enjoyed it!

He'd burn it from a safe distance, Prawn. I think his church frowns on steamy romance, science and wayward daughters, not necessarily in that order.

Glad you like the chapter!


All I can say is "Wow". Do you realise you have become a Twitter sensation? You're going to have agents and publishers knocking down your door wanting you to write this as a memoir.

Forget Eat, Love, Pray, yours is a unique, truly inspirational tale that even in its brief form here had me happy, sad, snarling at the injustice, and in the end, shedding a tear for your happy ending.

Your mother will be very very proud of you.

I feel all warm inside that this was your first post, Hannah. :) And a Twitter sensation? I'm not even on Twitter. But I'm grateful to everyone who's spreading the story - maybe it will help someone else who's also stuck in a bad situation and hoping to work their way out of it.

I thought of my mother a lot yesterday, trying to remember her as she was in photographs - lovely and poised - rather than how she looked at the end. And you're right, if she had been there it would have been one of her proudest moments too.


So freakin' awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for reading and enjoying it! I didn't expect my story to be so popular - guess I'm too close to it to consider it very objectively.

regdog : The pictures made me smile. We didn't have balloons and fireworks, but my friends and I did split a bottle (of rose wine). And we had a great time.


Okay. You can stay here, too, as a citizen of AW.

Also, you are amazing.

(And, apparently, amazingly small. :))

Yay, I can hold dual citizenship! And I agree - I am amazingly small. A friend of mine once told her boyfriend that she wanted to lose seventy pounds before their wedding day, and he replied, "Seventy pounds? That's one whole Marian!"

So now that's our new unit of weight : the marian. But my friends always get jealous when we go shopping for clothes and I hold up something tiny while saying, "I don't believe this is a petite. It's way too big for me!"


The way you told it, the way you kept us guessing, the "Siddown" people. Have you read 'Tis by Frank McCourt? Your story is told in a similar fashion, only I think yours is even better. :)

I haven't read the book, but thanks for the compliment! Some day, when I've got most of the fiction out of my system, I'll write all this down in more detail, give it chapter headings like "A funny thing happened on the road to Damascus" and see where it goes from there.


'The End'? No! Just the beginning... and may it be the beginning of the longest, happiest life you can imagine.

Now... if you'll excuse me... I must go get something out of my eyes. For some reason, I can't get them to stop watering.

Neither could I with mine, when I read all the replies. :)

And that was such a lovely thing to say... yes, it is the beginning!

Calla Lily
02-05-2011, 09:15 PM
Queen, that photo is wonderful!

Many, many congrats again!

benbradley
02-05-2011, 11:53 PM
...
That's me (on the left) with the judge. It's done, completed, fini... and possibly the best day of my life.
So far. ;)

SaraP
02-06-2011, 03:13 AM
Such a great picture. You look so happy, and you sure deserve it too!

BenPanced
02-06-2011, 03:18 AM
FANTASTIC! Like everybody else, I was scrolling through the replies that didn't have your name and user pic on them just so I could find out what happened!

:Hug2:

Now, get some rest. You deserve it!

Broadswordbabe
02-06-2011, 05:55 PM
What an amazing story. I just got back online today after being away, and read the whole thing at one sitting, and what can I say except to repeat - congratulations! You worked so damned hard and went through so much, and managed to write a book and get it published as well! I am in total awe. Massive hugs. I hope you have a wonderful life in Canada and much further publishing success - it's so deserved.

Marian Perera
02-06-2011, 06:23 PM
This is my favoritest thread EVER.

Aww. :) I'm so happy everyone was able to share this occasion with me.


Many congrats, Marian. A truly awesome and inspiring story. May you have a long and happy life in Canada. And I agree, your Mother would be proud.

Thanks very much, MaryMumsy. I couldn't have made it without my mom's help, and she was an inspiration - when things got really tough, I would remind myself that she had never given up, so how could I?

I've done some things which she wouldn't have approved of - including writing a steamy romance - but you're right, she would have been very pleased about my becoming a Canadian.


I am so glad I came across this thread today so that I could read your story all the way through at one sitting. And glad I persevered too, because I've been around these boards long enough to be a bit turned off by long posts, which can signal a rambling, boring rant. Yours is anything but! It was captivating from beginning to end.

Your citizenship date, if today, is inded auspicious, falling on my birthday! Congratulations for that and the publication of your book!! Incredibly happy for you. May you have many more wonderful milestones to celebrate.

(and please come back and tell us if your father ever gave you any of your inheritance money - I'm still angry about that on your behalf)

Happy belated birthday, Bluestone! I hope you had a great day, and I'm glad you enjoyed my story!

I didn't get anything my mother left me, and it still saddens me that my father sold all but two pieces of her collection of 22-carat gold jewelry - thankfully she left me those two pieces in person. I should have protested, but he sold them very shortly after her death, before I could recover from that.

A friend of mine suggested that I pursue legal action regarding the land, but that would have been difficult if not impossible. I'd have had to go to Sri Lanka, engage lawyers there and settle in for a prolonged battle. I'd probably have ended up spending more than the land was worth.

In the end, I figured that if my father wanted my inheritance so badly, he was welcome to it - and he didn't just trade a child for it, he lost any chance of Canadian citizenship for himself. He'd better treat my brother a little better, or he may not end up with American citizenship either.


I-n-s-p-i-r-i-n-g!

Thank you!


What an amazing story. Congratulations!

I'm sure at times it must have seemed like a cross between The Never Ending Story and The Incredible Journey. Thanks for reading!


Congratulations! You have so much determination and courage and fabulosity, QoS!

OK, now I'm just blushing, though fortunately that can't be seen under my un-bleached skin. :)


:partyguy:

That's a most appropriate icon. We partied on Friday and I had the most indolent Saturday ever. I just did a bit of writing, lounged around and chatted on IM.


I'm glad I waited and read your story all at once. The waiting between excerpts would've killed me!!

Welcome to CANADA as a REAL Canadian!! I hope to meet up with you someday, at some writers' do or another. It's a big country, but a small world.

Thanks! I woke up today thinking that now, when anyone asks me where I'm from, I can say Canada. It's a great feeling. It's as though, after half a lifetime, my feet are finally on solid ground and no one can make me leave.

This is another reminder of what happened. As I entered the hall where the ceremony was taking place, and handed over my landing document and PR card, they took the card away and stamped the document :

http://pics.livejournal.com/mdperera/pic/0000wh42/s640x480

I like looking at that too. No longer a permanent resident... now something better.


Queen, if I could somehow cajole the publicity dept. into scheduling me a signing in Quebec, I claim you for a drink afterward!

I'd love that! Even though I'm a lightweight when it comes to liquor.


O Canada (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwDvF0NtgdU).(Or, if you don't care for that version, any of dozens of excellent renditions.)

Maryn, waving from the other side of Lake Ontario

*waves back* On the day I had to take the citizenship exam, I got up early and played the national anthem over and over on YouTube until I'd memorized it.


Congratulations! I'm so very happy for you -- thank you for sharing your inspiring story!

Thank you for reading it and for enjoying the experience along with me! It feels great to share it with everyone.


Here's to your first weekend as a Canadian citizen! Cheers from one Canadian to another! :snoopy:

Cheers! My friends told me now I'll need to know about hockey and curling, but I've never been into outdoor sports, especially not anything played in the cold. In Dubai, there was an indoor ski slope, believe it or not, but I could never have afforded to visit it even if I'd wanted to.


What an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Congratulations on the citizenship and the book.

Thanks for reading! It feels like so many good things are happening at once. :)

Marian Perera
02-06-2011, 06:30 PM
Oh, and two highlights of the ceremony:

During his speech, the judge said, "You may not have found it easy to leave your home country."

I thought, "You have no idea."

Then he said he had just one thing to tell us. "Love your country, but love Canada more."

That's not going to be a problem. I've actually spent less time in Canada than I have in Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates or even the United States... but I'm a citizen of the country now, and that makes all the difference.

I'm also planning to apply for a passport ASAP. My Sri Lankan passport expired in 2007 and I decided not to renew it (even though we had to renew passports religiously in Dubai). I thought, the next passport I get will be a Canadian one.

SaraP
02-06-2011, 07:10 PM
I'm also planning to apply for a passport ASAP. My Sri Lankan passport expired in 2007 and I decided not to renew it (even though we had to renew passports religiously in Dubai). I thought, the next passport I get will be a Canadian one.

And this is why you so deserve to now get one. Perseverance and the power of a dream got you to where you are now. :)

Bookewyrme
02-06-2011, 07:50 PM
Congrats again QoS! Go get that passport asap! It'll feel great in your hands, and you can carry it with you as a constant reminder of your great achievement! ^_^

lpetrich
02-06-2011, 08:55 PM
Congratulations, QoS, for having made it all this way. Great job.

After all these years, it looks like you now have a nation that can be a good home for you.

breecita
02-06-2011, 08:58 PM
Oh wow, Marian. I missed this before today, but I have to say...you're utterly amazing. :)

(Of course, I already thought so, as I adored your book, but just saying it again!)

Jersey Chick
02-06-2011, 11:34 PM
I'm still catching up on the thread, but wanted to say congratulations, Marian! {{HUGS}}

Bufty
02-07-2011, 03:02 AM
You are a champion, Queen.

An inspiring read. Instead of dwelling on the negatives you faced everything with a positive attitude, stood up and fought your way to where you now thoroughly deserve to be.

Sincere congratulations to you, and thanks for sharing your experiences.

Brenda Hill
02-07-2011, 09:26 PM
I wouldn't say you were lucky. I'd say you made it happen. You created it all for yourself, and you suffered and sacrificed and fought for every last piece of it. Truly inspirational - thank you for sharing your beautiful story. :Hug2:

What clockwork said. Congratulations! I'm so happy for you.

Prawn
02-07-2011, 10:06 PM
I don't mean to derail this great thread, but QoS's triumph is also a triumph for Canada and an example of what the US is doing wrong. Here in the US, we put too many barriers in the way of young talented people like QoS who could come and make this country stronger and better.

Kudos to Canada for recognizing quality when they see it, and for being willing to open their arms to QoS.

Little Red Barn
02-07-2011, 10:15 PM
Amazing story ((((((Marian))))))!! I am so very happy for you!!
x0

Marian Perera
02-08-2011, 03:35 PM
I feel kind of dumb now... writing on your wall and not even knowing you became a Canadian citizen today. Congratulations! Here's to an even better rest-of-the-month (if that's even possible at this point.)

Thank you! And it's possible. We get a week off from school, starting next Monday! Of course, it's a week during which we have to study intensively for exams, but still.


Congratulations! Wonderful NEWS!

It is, isn't it? :) Though I must confess to being curious about whether anyone on the other side of the world knows as yet...


This - just - oh my goodness. This is one of the most inspirational and moving stories I've ever read.

That was such a wonderful thing to hear! Thank you.


Great story! And Canada is lucky to have you (Quebec gets all the cool people...)

Well, actually I went to Toronto. But if Quebec hadn't accepted me initially I wouldn't be here at all... so the next time I have a drink I'll raise a glass to the province that said yes first of all.


Congrats Marian! On the citizenship and the book - way to go, girl!

It was definitely the most exciting week of my life. Thanks!


Marian, you are an amazing woman. Congratulations on your book and your citizenship--Canada is lucky to have you!

Canada's an amazing country. Especially these days, when so many places are closed to immigrants, or just make it too difficult to get in. I'm very grateful that I was accepted. :)


That is an incredible story! I definitely think it's memoir material- your passion and determination were so inspiring! Congratulations on becoming a Canadian citizen!!

Thank you, Priyanka. Maybe I will turn it into a memoir some day. :)


And you've really made The Big Time now, look at the top of this page!!!

It made me feel all warm inside to see the flag. http://smileys.on-my-web.com/repository/Flags/canada-flag-14.gif

And the first time I saw my book's cover up there I was pleasantly surprised, because I'd always thought you had to pay to get your book's cover featured there. No idea why I made that assumption, but I did.

The second time I was even more surprised (and thrilled) because I thought my cover had already had its fifteen minutes of fame.

This is one of the most generous communities ever.


Like others on this thread I'm glad I only discovered it today - the tension was getting unbearable!

Thanks, Netz!

Though now I'm wishing I'd spread the installments out a bit more... raised the tension exponentially... yes, I'm evil.


Wow Wow! Congratulations! What a long journey!

Thanks! And Enya's Long Long Journey was one of the songs I'd listen to in Dubai when I needed inspiration that I would make it here some day.

The other song was the theme from Firefly. "Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand. I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me..."


Congratulations! I hope you and Canada have many happy years together.

Thanks! I like everything about this country except the winter and the taxes and I can't really complain about the taxes, given that we have government-subsidized health care, a great library system and lots of museums, all of which I missed in Dubai.


It's a bit belated but congratulations.

Equally belated, but thank you!


I clicked the big Canada flag and read this...

and I'm spent! AND I didn't have to live thru it.

Biggest of congratulations!! I was going to try and refrain from posting a Princess Kitteh... this is a serious thread.

There's always room for humor on my threads!


Congrats Queen of Swords! From one Canuck to another: welcome home!

The judge wasn't kidding when he said we were part of the Canadian family now. :)


Welcome home, Marian! What a journey you've had.

We're damn cold here at the wrong time of year, but we're warmhearted year 'round.

Thanks, Lainey! I remember my first winter here, slogging through the snow and thinking, "Did Napoleon really try to invade Russia in weather like this? He must have been crazy."


Congratulations are called for, ay! You're the perfect example that working hard, being self-reliant, and looking long term can work out so well.

Aw, thank you. Though it wasn't complete self-reliance, because I had a lot of help from my friends as well. :)


Congratulations. This has been a wonderful, inspiring story to read.

Another thing it's done is make me realize that no matter what the faults might be, I am very lucky to be living where I am. The next time I feel like griping, I'll remember your story and the struggle you went through to get to this continent.

Yes, I would never say that Canada (or the US, UK, etc) is perfect. But compared to what I left behind, it's pretty damn good... and there are so many people who would give anything to be here.

I was just thinking of the other applicant at the Canadian Consulate in Syria, the one with the poster, and wondering if she ever made it. I can't remember her name, so I'll never know, but I hope she did.


Oh, Marian, I could not be more THRILLED for you. I'm thinking August 24th needs to be a holiday for you every year and proclaimed FREEDOM DAY! I absolutely want to read a detailed book about all of this. I, too, am glad I read the thread after it was complete. I would have been biting my nails along with everyone else otherwise.

Thanks so much, Merri! Seeing how happy everyone is makes me feel the same way, even though I'm familiar with the story and didn't think it was that unusual. And yes, that was Freedom Day all right. I remember walking through the airport thinking that this couldn't be real, but once the plane took off I knew it was.


I just found and read this whole thread.
Marian, I am crying like a baby & congratulating you like crazy. Well done and what an inspiration you are. I am so proud to know you on this board.

I never expected to make so many people cry!

Thank you so much for your reply, Kate - it made me feel wonderful (and a little teary as well).


wow, how wonderful

:)

Congratulations!


Thanks, milly!


Congratulations QoS! I'm from S Lanka as well, and now here in Toronto, and the part about looking up at flights and waiting to be on one totally hit home! I'm very happy for you. :D

And I love AW for the show of support for her and Canada. The strength of the community here is overwhelming.

Hi, Darzian, it's good to hear from another originally-Sri-Lankan!

One of the best things about internet communities is that they don't change when you go to another country. I left behind a lot of real-life friends when I moved from Texas back to Dubai, but I still had the Internet Infidels. Now I feel as though I could go anywhere and I'd still have AW.


I started reading this at work earlier today and had to finish it this evening.

I'm just north of Toronto and you can touch my walls any time you want.

That made me laugh! Thank you, Chumplet. :)


What an amazing and inspiring story! CONGRATULATIONS on becoming a Canadian citizen and on the release of your book! May today mark the beginning of a wonderful new life for you.

Thanks! My plan was always to get three C's - citizenship, certification and condo. First C down.

One of my friends asked if I had any plans to get married. I said that if I met someone I liked, I would add a fourth C : committment.


What an amazing story. I was so enthralled, and I have the utmost respect for you. Congratulations!

I'm so glad you enjoyed the story, and your response really touched me. :) Thank you!

Marian Perera
02-08-2011, 03:47 PM
Here in the US, we put too many barriers in the way of young talented people like QoS who could come and make this country stronger and better.

You make a good point. The INS just seemed insurmountable back in 2001, and once I was exiled to Dubai it was even more difficult to get back into the States. I couldn't go there on a student visa, I couldn't get work, I couldn't claim refugee status... there was just no legal way to do it.

And there was really nothing holding me back except for the red tape. I am so, so grateful most of that is behind me. That's one reason I want a Canadian passport - with that, I won't even need a visa to visit several other countries. Because the legalities in the US were only frustrating, but the ones in Dubai were humiliating, like having to ask my father to give me permission to work.