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The old lady

The old lady - Yolanda McDonald

On my flight back from Chicago, I was seated next to a chatty old lady who did not allow me to work or rest my eyes for a minute. I guess that the poor old lady had no one to talk at home. Or no one was interested in listening to her.

She seemed to be a kind woman. According to her saying, she had done lots of sacrifices to help her family. Not only her three daughters, but also their offsprings. She arrived to Canada when she was in her late twenties, as a refugee. She had no relatives or friends here. All she had was the name of a pastor that her aunty had passed on to her, asking her to call him if she was in trouble.

She never did. Actually she met him only later on, after five or six years, when she had already made a life for herself on her own. I admired her strength and determination of being independent. I understood her point of view. When you come from a country where women have no voice and abuse against them is not considered a crime, is hard to put your trust and your future in the hands of a stranger. During the flight, she told me her whole life story, without having me asking for it. I admit, I was intrigued by her.

She was not like a typical Sri Lankan woman. First of all, she was not wearing a sari or anything that resembled to a traditional outfit. As a matter of fact, she looked stylish, refined. Secondly, her English was impeccable. Her accent was slightly British, but nothing to do with the way Sri Lankans talk. I assumed she must be part of the middle class or upper class, since she had gone to university at that time.

She was returning from a trip to Sri Lanka, her home country. She had not been there in over thirty years. She wished to go visit her hometown and see her relatives who were still alive, but she could not. Only after the war was done, she actually started to think that going back for a short vacation was not such a bad idea.

When we landed in Montreal, I helped her take her carry on down and then we said good bye. I was in a hurry to get home. I left the aircraft without realizing that I had left my files inside, on the pocket of my seat. I had to call my husband and tell him that change management for stakeholder engagement Chicago had to wait until I was getting back my documents.


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