Literary Yard

Search for meaning

An Immigrant’s Story in three parts

By: Del Lobo

Photo by Omer Unlu on

Part I: My parent’s home is all I know. It’s a familiar world but there is a paucity of space. Never mind our home, the whole city is over-populated. And the noise! The proximity of people, animals, and vehicles, it’s pulsating. Like an unpleasant second heartbeat. And people talk all the doggone time. Shut-up for once, all you, people. I cannot say these words. I cannot be impolite. It’s not customary. But I feel sheltered here in this over-crowded urban space.  It’s all I’ve known so far. When I turn twenty-one, a sense of adventure courses through my veins like a restless river. I yearn for my freedom. Freedom from the familiar—a leap into the unknown. It will not be accepted because I am a woman, a daughter and perhaps a wife-to-be. This last thought makes me want to flee even more. Flee to a place where I am not bound by tradition, customs, and the shackles of patriarchy.

Part II: It’s a far-out world, strange and unfamiliar. Clean streets, tall buildings. My neck aches from staring upwards so much.  And the space!  I can swing my arms around and never touch anyone.  Green spaces interspersed with the bustle and chaos of a city. But there’s no chaos.  Only order. Drivers rarely honk their horns and dogs sleep at nights. No one pinches my bum on a bus. People are casual. Some men have long hair tied back in a ponytail. The men in suits are determined, commerciality smeared all over their faces. Women flaunt tattoos and let babies suck on their breasts. We have the right to,they seem to say. And men don’t stare at them. People are polite. “How yer doin’?” No one waits for my reply. I need to find a place to live.

Part III: Armed with an address and clothed with a new-found courage, I find this red brick house. I ring the doorbell and hold my breath. The owner points to the room and leaves me to it. She’s not concerned about the fact that I could rob her blind. She doesn’t watch me like a hawk. I’ve never had my own room ever.  For that matter, I’ve never lived alone. I’m away from family, in a new country. The room’s no bigger than a closet, but to me it is a welcome universe. The light pink walls and the darker pink ruffled curtains complement the rose-coloured chenille bedspread. These days I might puke, but back then, all I see is a room to myself.

“The bathroom is down the hall,” says the tall woman, her high heels elongating her figure even more toward the sky. “And the kitchen is downstairs.” She smiles at me, eyeing my thin frame. “You do eat, don’t you?”

I understand her, despite the accent. But her humour is lost on me. I’m determined not be an immigrant forever. One day I’ll belong. I’ll get the jokes.


Del Lobo is currently enrolled in the Creative Writing program at the University of Guelph. Her work has been published in Canadian Stories, Potato Soup Journal and an Anthology titled: Constellations.


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