“Grief is just love with no place to go.” — Jamie Anderson

In any event, we went to a coffee shop in the mall and ordered our coffee before started chatting.  The very first thing she told me that she was a cockney.  It was obvious to me that she had an accent but I was clueless about what she was talking about. I had never heard of that word or expression in my life and I assumed it must be a Canadian thing.  She must have read my face as she started explaining to me that the term cockney is used to describe a person from the East End of London.  Subsequently, I learned that it is an accent and dialect that is mainly spoken in London, particularly by working-class and lower middle-class Londoners.

She stated that Lynda and her family migrated to Canada in 1968, leaving her aging parents Julia and Charles King behind in London. She told me that she loved Canada the minute they landed in Toronto.  Shortly after their arrival in Canada, she brought her sister and her family and assisted them to get settled in Toronto. 

She told me that her sister’s name is Estelle. Even though Lynda was 3 years older, they were very close and Lynda always considered Estelle her best friend. She said Estelle is very smart partly because whatever Lynda used to learn in the school, she used to come home and teach her sister right away. They used to spend a great deal of time together. They used to sit in their dad’s car, Austin, and look at the American magazines and catalogues for hours. They were fascinated with the stories about wagon trains and Indians. They used to correspond with their American pen pals and used to day dream about going to America.

She explained to me that the reason for spending all that time together simply because their parents used to work long hours in their store in order to make a living and being the oldest sibling, it was given that she look after her sister.

She also told me that her parents were missing their daughters and grandkids immensely. Hence, they decided to migrate to Canada in September, 1971.  Unfortunately, her dad passed away after only three months in Canada which was utterly devastating for her and her sister. 

She wanted me to know that she has two beautiful daughters – Ruth 8 years old and Maxine 6 years old – and the bad news was that she was in the process of separating from her husband.

I also learned that when Lynda’s parents migrated to Canada they wanted to live with her and her family. Those days Lynda and her family used to live in an apartment in Toronto. She was an excellent planner, she knew that her parents liquidated all their assets including a business which they owned and operated in London for decades with the objective to transfer all their money to Canada. She came up with a plan to buy a big enough house where both families can live together. In order to undertake that plan, what all she needed was a healthy down-payment for the house. Consequently, they ended up living in a nice house in Malton, dedicating fully finished and furnished apartment in the basement for her parents.

It was nice for Lynda to have her mom continue to live with them after her father’s demise as her mom needed to be with the family. At the same time, it provided Lynda with a flexibility she needed to go out and find a part time job to keep her inspired. Lynda never had to worry about kids when they come home for lunch everyday as their nana used to be there to look after them.

She was very apologetic for capitalizing on my time and she said she had no idea why she was going on and on as she had never planned to talk about her personal affairs to anybody. Now she wanted to know about me.

I realized that it was a bit overwhelming for me to grasp everything she told me and I didn’t know how to react.  Nonetheless, I was determined to tell her my story.

I told her that I was born in India and had very unpretentious upbringing. As a matter of fact I am the product of a broken home. I did my undergraduate degree in 1965 by supporting myself financially. I was highly motivated to go to America and had admission in a couple of American universities but didn’t have two pennies to rub together. It was nothing but a miracle that in 1967 I ended up in a small country in the Middle East called Qatar. I lived and worked there for a year to make enough money to go to Chicago with the focus to study computer science. I also told her that I got married on the phone to my high school sweetheart and she joined me in 1970 and now I am also separated from my wife who currently lives in Chicago.

Lynda had several questions to ask me but suddenly we realized that we were terribly late. When we got back we found out that I missed several calls but nobody official complained about it. However, Lynda used to tease me by saying Mr. Ali you just cannot take off whenever you feel like.  You got the responsibilities here in the store, you know.

Our Story – Chapter 4