There is a scar in my right armpit that I am pretty self conscious about. While we were still in Bangladesh I was walking with my sister and a friend and fell into an open sewer.
If you've seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire think back to the scene where the main character as a boy is in the outhouse and learns of the famous actor visiting their town. He comes out and is covered in human feces that has had time to soften into a mud-like consistency and then emulsify. Then take it one step further and imagine being stuck in it, trying to stay afloat because I had fallen through a two foot wide opening in the ground and landed six feet below in a virtual river of shit.
Not a memory I treasure but something I've thought about often in recent years. You see it took me a long time to really think about the differences between that life and this one. The disparity between living in a third world country and living in one of the wealthiest most peaceful countries in the world.
Until relatively recently I took my story for granted. I mean I always knew it was pretty amazing but it wasn't until I really consciously weighed the variations did it hit me how different my life could be if I still lived in Bangladesh.
I read a book this past year called Shame by Taslima Nasrin a Bangladeshi author only nine years older than me who has been forced to live in exile because of the views she expressed against her own religion in her writing. Because of these views she faced serious death threats from Islamic fundamentalists and was forced to leave her homeland. Sadly her father died and she couldn't even return to the country to attend his funeral. Can you even imagine???
I don't mention my adoptive parents very often. There was some difficulty over the years which for me has been amended. But I have realized the miracle they enabled when they chose to adopt my sister and me.
They already had two boys of their own, were pregnant with a third and had adopted a little girl from Bangladesh in 1977 when they saw a picture of Tara and me during an adoption support meeting. They told us that immediately they felt we were meant to be their girls. By June of 1978 we had become their girls. Free to grow up and have opinions. Free to dream about a future that was wide open. Free to speak our minds. Free to marry who we wanted. Free to raise our children to be free. Free.
I don't want to wax patriotic. I don't often embrace Canadianna. But today on Canada Day at home with my son and husband where we are peacefully free to do whatever we want, say and believe whatever we want and be whoever we want, I have to admit that it is good to be Canadian!