It was almost 30 years ago. War has began. The sounds of chirping birds were replaced with blasting bombs. My husband had come back from town to get me and my daughter. We are leaving tomorrow morning. It was the beginning of our journey. A journey to a new place, a new beginning. I have left everything behind. All I bring with me is the mere hope. Hope to survive.
The sea of Atlas greeted us. I spent long days and endless night admiring the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean. It was my way of finding joy even in the most difficult times.
We reached land. Something told me, our journey didn't end yet. It just started.
My little girl seemed fascinated. My husband seemed relieved but I was confused. There were many questions running through my mind. What will I do? How will I function?
Would I fit in or stand out?
I have heard of Canada: big land, snowy roads, and tall buildings.. These were the little details my cousin from Canada used to write to us about.
Everything seemed new. Some seemed strange. We got some puzzled looks. We also received friendly smiles. The smiles made me feel we were welcome here.
For a girl who grew up making sand castles, every building looked monumental. It was definitely a world that was too foreign for me.
Days became months. Months turned into year. We managed to make our house, a home. I think that was the beauty of starting all over again. You learned to adapt and change.
Of course I had moments where I questioned everything. But, for every question, I had one simple answer. We were lucky to call Canada our new home.
My generation had to forge our own path, forfeit our own dreams so that our children can survive. We gave so that our children can gain.
Our story is a story of struggle, triumph, war, peace and everything in between.
First came the cold, then followed the snow. When you have a rent to pay, it is a must to trek 30 cm of snow. Ice became rinks. The rinks became a new passion for my little girl.
Living in a country where you are not familiar with the language can be daunting. Getting lost and not knowing how to ask for directions was my nightmare. So, we made learning English a hobby. Friday nights were Scrabble nights!
I left behind a successful career. To build myself again, I took odd jobs: low pay, night shifts, lifting boxes. We didn't have the choice to pick and choose.
Our hard work and preservation was our strength. I think it is the strength of any immigrant. It brought us success and joy. We found happiness in the simplest of things.
In my daughter's smile, I found happiness. In my memories of my childhood, I found comfort. In our success, we found confidence. This was our way of doing life!
I learned to raise my daughter so that she embraces the Canadian culture while never forgetting our own. No matter where our life takes us, our roots will remain in the pearl of the indian Ocean.
As we stand across the CN Tower, I tell my daughter of how great this country has been to us. Canada has allowed us to live our dream: the Canadian dream!
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