Remember how I talked about the first panic attack I ever had? It happened when I was studying for math at the Queen Elizabeth library. Well, one amazing silver lining came from that math course. And that was this. I met my lifelong, best friend on that very first day in that very first math class. And her name is Simran Shergill. Sim or Simmy-sim-sin as I lovingly call her. My little pet name for my best bud.
Coming from L’Anse au Loup, I was not well versed in the pronunciation of foreign Indian names. And I was always concerned I was pronouncing it wrong.
“Dude, am I saying it right?”
“It’s like sim,” she’d say, “like simmering on the stove.”
Simran took a couple different classes with me that semester. We didn’t realize it until we compared our schedules, and so as fate would have it, Sim and I also took the same chemistry course. Sim, being the scholar that she is, became more than a friend. She became, well, she tried to become my math tutor. And so a couple times she attempted to help me with calculus.
Well, have you ever tried to learn math from someone who grew up in Chandigarh, India? Wow. Her way of doing math, was so far fetched, that I’d stare at the numbers and start seeing letters. I was completely perplexed. What the hell is going on here!? And although she’s helped me in a million ways, calculus was not one of them.
In fact, her ability to grasp the concepts so freaking fast, made me think I was stupid. And that made the anxiety even worse. That wasn’t her intention, her intentions were good, like that Eminem song goes, but yah, that’s the way she goes. Or don’t go. I guess.
So anyway, I stopped taking tutoring lessons from her. It was making things worse. It was like learning math in a new language. But we were buds. And so, she didn’t give up on me. But she sat with me while we waited to write our finals.
And she came with me to the bathroom every single time I had to pee in that half hour leading up to us entering the lecture halls. Which was a lot. A LOT. We still talk about that, and laugh. Like who the hell pee’s that often? Well. ME. I do. Especially when I’m having anxiety attacks. Such a weird thing about anxiety. It makes you pee a lot. And poor Sim knows this.
Simran has been there for me through the thick and thin. She’s a spiritual person. She has a beautiful soul. A well rounded, independent, intelligent caring soul.
She left her city, and her people, and her language and her family and all that was familiar to her and she uprooted and moved herself to Canada. To St. John’s, Newfoundland. And as fate would have it she became my best friend. She’s taught me about her Guru’s. She’s opened me up to her culture, her beliefs, and we have deep, profound conversations after a couple glasses (cough…bottles) of wine. Profound to us. To you we’d probably just sound like a bunch of fools. And that’s cool. Because fools we are.
I’ve watched Sim, with tears in my eyes, walk across the university stage to receive her degree in biochemistry. We’ve shared everything. You name it. Chocolate and wine. Shampoo. An apartment, food, money, special memories. And we will continue to share a lifelong friendship.
But the reason I am telling you all of this, and today, on July 1st, 2017 is because my best friend just recently received her permanent residency. And so this Canada Day is extra special for her. And for me, too. I am unbelievably proud of her. It’s not an easy thing that she’s done. But she did it. And it’s been a tough road. A struggle. She’s fought to become a Canadian. I had the privilege of being born into this fine country. And I am a proud Canadian. And I am a proud friend, of my soon to be fellow Canadian citizen.
So, here’s a big shout out to all the immigrants who have come here in hopes of a better life. To all the Simmy-Sim-Sin’s of Canada. To those who have stood by us already Canadian’s and have helped to lift us up. To all the refugee’s who have left war-torn countries, to all the Punjabi’s who have some special, super weird, proficiency for math. Here’s to you! You are what makes Canada great. You add richness to this country.
And so, welcome.