“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved us can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” — Helen Keller

It didn’t take too long for me to ask her to have lunch with me then it became a regular thing for us.  We started seeing each other more frequently and our friends in the store found so many ways of gossiping about us.  We decided to put an end to all those gossips, we started living together in a 3 bedroom apartment in a brand new building with a swimming pool which was the main attraction for the girls.  The building was located very close to the mall as well as their school. 

However, Lynda’s mom wasn’t happy at all with Lynda’s decision to move in with a Muslim “Foreigner” and I didn’t blame her at all. The fact of the matter was that I was new to the community. Nobody knew about my background except that I had a good job and good education which is not necessarily can be an overriding factor for everything else and she was just being a caring mother. The funny thing was that Lynda didn’t care who I was, she believed me unequivocally and I fell in love with her for her broadmindedness, non-judgemental attitude and level of tolerance. She was indeed an extra ordinary woman I ever met in my life. It took a while for Lynda to reconcile with her mom. In the end, she became very supportive and kind to me and I started calling her mom, too.

At the time of Lynda’s separation, they had no choice but to sell their house and the obvious choice for mom was to go live with Estelle and her family which she did.

When the Store Manager found out that we started living together, he wanted to have a word with Lynda.  I don’t exactly know how the conversation went but what all I know that she told him exactly where to go, what he can do with his job, and she walked out from his office.  There were no flies on her.  She knew that she didn’t need a job as I was making enough money for both of us and I was totally committed to look after her and the girls.  Besides, she had no time to work for anybody else when girls and I were keeping her extremely occupied.

What she was totally chaotic about the fact that the Store Manager never brought it up with me but it was in our best interest that I continue to work there.

We had a kind of routine in our lives as Lynda had everything under control. Girls used to visit their father on the most of the weekends and agreed holidays. We used to take girls out for hamburgers on the weekends when they were not with their father. We used to sit out at the restaurant which was close to the Toronto Airport and watch the airplanes taking off and landing. Occasionally, we used to go to Howard Johnson hotel on the Airport Road where they had a nice family restaurant as well as an English pub. The girls used to like to go there to eat anything other than hamburgers. When girls used to be with their father on the weekends, I remembered taking Lynda to the pub where we had a nice time. Those were indeed the innocent days of our lives.

Lynda was extremely busy with her daily activities:

  1. After sending girls to school in the morning, she used to make breakfast for us and I used to go to work at the store around 10:00 AM;
  2. Just after finishing lunches for the girls and sending them back to school, she used to make lunch for us as I used to come home from the store for lunch around 12:30 PM;
  3. She used to make sandwiches and tea for us when I used to come back from the store around 4:15 PM and go to my regular job at Playtex around 4:45 PM; and
  4. In addition to making breakfasts, lunches, and suppers for everybody, she used to wait up with a hot meal for me to get home around mid-night.  

On top of everything else, mom used to come and stay with us for an extended period of time and Lynda used to look after her, too.  What a miracle worker she was.

The City of Brampton had built a multi-story apartment building for seniors very close to the hospital in Brampton. Lynda somehow managed to get a one bedroom apartment for mom for a very reasonable monthly rent which was based on mom’s monthly income. It was getting to be hectic for her to go upstairs for her meals when she was living in Estelle’s basement. Mom liked living independently in a new building where she used to go down for coffee with other residents and she started making friends to go with on the bus to a mall with her scooter.

Our daily activities were so normalized that we started feeling like a family. The only thing we were missing that we were not married. It was very important for me to talk to Lynda about my background and upbringing before we get serious about getting married.  She did her best to discourage me by saying that there’s nothing you are going to tell me which will change my mind about marrying you.

Nonetheless, I went ahead and told her one night that when I was about 3 years old my mother got remarried to a man who already had a couple of wives and a bunch of grownup kids. Lynda was totally flabbergasted with the news and asked me if I was pulling her leg. I said absolutely not and I told her that it is permissible in Islam for men to take plural wives and she turned around and looked directly into my eyes and said to me – Don’t get any ideas, my Muslim friend, you live in Canada and polygyny is prohibited in this country.

I got the message loud and clear but continued my story by saying that I was indeed the source of desperation for my mother to marry a married man 20 years senior to her. In every regard I always called my step-father, dad but he never even pretended to be my father nor did he support me financially or otherwise all my life in India. My destitute nana with a small widower’s pension always supported me physically, financially, and morally. The other major and critical support came from my other half-sister from my father’s side, who lived in Qatar. She got me the visa to go to Qatar. The last thing I wanted Lynda to know was that my mother had 4 kids with that old man and he never failed to make me feel like a fifth wheel.

Our Story – Chapter 5