Without saying much Mrs. Bento felt the sadness in Chai’s heart. Their city was burning. No news was good since June and the whole situation has gone completely out of hand, providing further grounds for the government’s tighter grip on the protestors. Qi, Chai’s father had bad news. A week ago he took a false step and twisted his ankle. At the doctors advice he stayed at home and took rest. In any case, many forms of transportation have ceased to operate since there are disturbances and road blockages in many parts of the city. Chai has a lot in common with some of her friends, who mostly express their views, or side with the protestors but not the will to take more drastic action. Or perhaps she is too far away from the core of action? Would she join the thousands if she’s in the city? Was it a worthy cause until now? She has already been blamed by her more progressive friends for staying away. Yet she has never felt the lack of freedom back home. Or, has she overlooked the freedom she so used to gets slowly boiling away? What is the extent of liberty anyway? Is there truly liberty and who has the authority to give it? Who is the giver and who is the receiver? Can a line from a 1994 Joni Mitchell’s song give her some answers? It said All liberty is laced with borderlines.
Chai felt more relief after whatsapping her father and knew he got much better, his job also secured. Qi would avoid going out on weekends and Sundays, when most events scheduled to break out. Focus on your work Chai, encouraged his father, make best use of your freedom when you have it! Yes, I am lucky, I’m staying now in a free, and the most cultural tolerance city in the world! Chai said to her father, sobbing. But I worry about you, and lives of others over there. How long will it take to get back to normal? This ‘adjusted’ normal the city must earn and learn the hard way.
Atrocities and political uncertainties have created huge movements in global migration. While some arrive in a new country replete with resource, as investors or self-employed, those have-nots or plain refugees find it exceedingly challenging to begin a new life. Even though Mrs. Bento rarely thinks about these issues she has become more and more aware of such facts. Here is calm waters, even in the coldest of Winters no one is depleted from getting some warmth from the communities. There are hands to give a lift, ears to listen to stories and shoes for those who walk bare feet. Shoes, oh yes, she remembered the shoe tree in front of the house on Gladstone Avenue. It was a day well-spent with Chai, exploring the street she has been living on for more than a decade. This house, with a tree draping different kinds of shoes turns out to be Adam House, a charitable organization that provides refugees clean, safe temporary accommodations. They would never have known it had they not explored that street. And on that slightly cool and breezy day, just a bit south they would hit another borderline - Dufferin Park Avenue, enter Dufferin Grove Park and venture further to meet the park’s public bakeovens.