By: Zareen Muzaffar Mississauga This is a story of those who left their country, like many others, but failed to settle, unlike others. These immigrants walk in this big city like a ghostly sketch, absorbed in their thoughts, languid walk, and pensive gaze. They either live on welfare, survive on temporary jobs or resort to work hours that may just pay the minimum wage. Wages do bring food to the table, but the inner frustrations escalate with time. Sometimes we sail in ships that don’t reach. What makes sense from far away proves to be a mirage; like all other things in life tangible or intangible. People arrive as immigrants, reside like residents and live like aliens. Segregated, demarcated and aligned. Such is the story of many immigrants who arrive here with the cultural and traditional values embedded in them, much like a birth mark. Hard to hide, difficult to ignore. Brampton has the largest concentration of South Asians in Canada. Making up 31.7% of Brampton’s population are immigrants predominantly from India and Pakistan. Most immigrants who live here have gained employment in blue collar sector. There are some immigrants who are well-educated yet lack “the Canadian experience”, and consequently they find themselves just working labour jobs to buy the basic necessities. And then there are some financially stable families who have a comfortable lifestyle with well paying jobs. I have met different families from various parts of Lahore or Karachi. The third angle is solitary that comprises of single South Asian mothers who have either voluntarily left their partner or have been deserted. Either way, some unfortunate circumstance like incompatibility issues or abuse or extra marital affairs ended the couples’ relationship. This woman I know took the step out of frustration. I don’t know how Ayesha will sleep tonight. Will she feel at peace or will she remain numb and break down after a couple of days. I don’t know. She lived with her husband unhappily for ten years. Although whenever I met her and asked how she was doing, she sounded quiet hopeful and said the same thing every time: things will get better. “I have to think of my children. But all this is normal, every home has troubles. Mine will get better too”. As time went by her responses grew mechanical. And she began to believe their relationship will get better. At least that’s what I thought. Sometimes our frustrations brew calmly under the demure and frighteningly silent patience. According to Ayesha her husband was not a good provider, he would work for a couple of weeks and would voluntarily quit the job as he pleased. Most of the jobs were contractual and at times he would leave the work place without informing his employers. He used to stay at home, watch television, go to the malls, then come home frustrated. He forbade her from meeting her parents and made sure no calls were made from her cell phone. He did not let their children meet the grandparents. She says he shoved her once in front of the children but she ignored it as part of marital strife. Then one day he came home and started beating his son. In a fit of rage he shoved Ayesha and her head hit the wall. After he stormed out of the house she knew what she had to do. After a couple of hours a call was made to 911 and within five minutes police arrived with the ambulance. The caller was the son who had received the beating. He informed the authorities that his father had beaten him and in rage had also threatened to kill them. Ayesha’s husband was sitting at home alone watching TV when the cops arrested him and took him away. In an apartment two floors above Ayesha knew what was happening in her own apartment. She was sitting at her sister’s place with her mother. She knew he would never forgive her for this. And she didn’t care. When I dropped in to meet her she told me she has decided to file for separation. What followed were the details of her husband’s arrest. “Do you want some tea?”, she asked me and I declined the offer. She went to the kitchen and shared a joke with her friend who had come moments after me. I heard loud laughter from the kitchen. As if someone had just set her free. She had set herself free. I sat looking at the room. It looked exactly the same as before. But so much had changed. “I am going to try and make sure that the court issues restrictions on him. I don’t want him to be near my children and me because he is a hazard to our safety now. I can never forgive him, I don’t want to. I don’t want him near me or my children”, she said. For Ayesha’s husband this could mean a final exit from Canada. According to a latest report permanent residents convicted of a crime and jailed for six months or more in Canada would have their immigrant status revoked with no right to appeal under a proposed legislation. This was the same girl who used to tell me things will be fine. The same woman who said women have to make a lot of sacrifices for children. Marriage is made up of compromises. This was the same woman who decided to take charge of her life. In moments of angst she had decided to break this relationship that had required patience from her. Ten years of silence. A moment of fury.