I know I promised more posts about my trip to Spain and Portugal.

I had it all planned out, I’d write about Don Quixote, that most famous of Spanish heroes and his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza, but life interrupted.

It was funny.

All during my time in Spain and Portugal, I was having such a lovely time and yet underneath it all, I had a feeling of impending doom.

All this summer in fact, I felt like something very bad was coming, but I did not know what it is.

I often get premonitions that warn me ahead of things or even reassure me that certain things will work out just fine.

They’re not something I count on in any way. I just get feelings that either something hard is going to happen or something good will.

And when the Syrians started walking, it began.

And the picture, the famous picture of three year old Alan Kurdi hit me like a truck going 70 mph.

And I cried for days.

One night I couldn’t sleep, all I could do was imagine my spare room as a home for Syrian family, and then part of me thought, no, it will never work. And then I thought of other means, and practicality just kept hitting me in the face.

And I thought of when the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who were being tortured so much by the Qureish, left their homes in Mecca for the long walk to Medina and how the Ansar took them in, into their own homes, and for the first time in my life it really hit me how generous the people of Medina had been.

How do you open your home to a strange family?

What if they turn out to be jerks? What if they take advantage? What if they steal? What if they don’t clean up after themselves? What if they refuse to leave?

All of satan’s whisperings when you want to do something good but you know you’re not capable.

And I thought what if I just donate. Donate time, donate books, donate part of my weekly allowance. Money I’d normally use to buy a coffee or get my haircut, I don’t absolutely need a haircut, I can live with it in my eyes and just tie it and clip it back and look shaggy right? I’m wearing hijab anyway, it’s not like anyone will see!

And I thought no, that’ll just be a drop in the bucket. And I thought why is it so different from before?

Before the government would step in! We wouldn’t have had to individually step up and promise to cover a refugee family’s costs for a year, a sum of about $27,000 which is a burden on any family.

And I still kept thinking of ways we might manage it, what if my whole family pitched in? What if? What if?

And then I realized why it’s so hard now. It’s because of Stephen Harper. He only wants to let in the Christians.

No Muslims.

And apparently he returned 235 million dollars which was budgeted for refugees, because they never spent it this year.

And I thought, Aha! So there is a budget for this!

And with the election coming up he’s bragging about a billion dollar surplus not revealing the fact that it’s because he cut so many veteran programs and refugee programs and social assistance programs, he’s skimming off the backs of the poor and I cry again for what Canada has turned into.



And when I logged on to write this blog, I see this long message from this woman from New Brunswick who says we don’t need refugees or immigrants and I can understand why many people feel that way.

And then the other day, I saw a cartoon by that horrible Charlie Hebdo, mocking the death of that baby Alan Kurdi, and I posted it on Facebook saying I was never Charlie and I wonder, of all my Facebook friends, who still #jesuischarlie and I thought of all the latent racism that exists and I wondered for a moment if I had the guts to challenge them all, ask them to reveal themselves.


I wanted to write:

“Who is still Charlie Hebdo? Who agrees with this? Tell me, so I can know who is for this despicable cartoon??? And I can be warned against you!”

But I didn’t, because that would not be gracious, and us immigrants, we need to be ‘gracious’. We need to turn the other cheek.

Outrage is not our right or privilege. We are supposed to be grateful just to be here.

No matter how many years we’ve lived in Canada (50)!

No matter how many taxes we’ve paid!

No matter how much we follow Canadian politics and not Pakistani politics (I don’t even know who’s running!)!

No matter how much we’ve invested in this beautiful country, we’ll always be immigrants and we need to tread carefully!


We need to be grateful!


We need to not be angry at every injustice.

Just swallow it, and be patient!


But sometimes it’s hard.

And you have to do something to let it out, or it will poison the writing. It will leach into the story, so I’m writing it here, and I will be fine, really I will.

But it will take some time. That’s all.

And I will do my best to help the Syrians, like I would have helped anyone who was running from war.

Because we’re all one race, the human race, and we need to be kind to each other.

That’s the Canadian thing to do.

And then I saw this beautiful video and it made me cry more, but also it gives me hope because despite all the ugly bigots out there, there are still that businessman who’d never helped anyone but handed out water for the Syrians because his heart was moved. And so there is hope. Watch this video to the end! It’s worth it!