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Imi was born and raised in Europe, Hungary. After finishing his school years, he moved to Canada to search for a better life. He lived in Toronto for 13 years and currently resides in Vancouver. He is a romantic at heart with a strong desire to always do the right thing. He would like to give hope to the Chinese and Asian ladies with his story and send a message that love eventually finds everybody.
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The Immigrant    

By Imi
2294 Views | 9 Comments | 6/7/2015 5:20:18 PM

   The alarm clock tried very hard to get my attention. It was only 5:30 in the morning and my eyelids had opened halfway a few times already before they shut tightly again under the weight of my weariness. They were still shut when I hit the button on the top of my old alarm clock a few seconds later. Everything went quiet. Only the barely audible tick-tocking and my tired groans interrupted the silence as I sat up on my bed. Abruptly, a shiver shook me and said good morning as the cold air in the room gripped my naked ankles and coated my entire body with goosebumps. I felt tempted to climb back under the sheets and forget about the whole day of work ahead of me. But it was only a teasing thought of my half-asleep brain when the sheets exhaled a last puff of warm whiff onto my backside before they lost the battle to the cold and kicked me out of bed.

    I checked the radiator with my hand. It was still cold. Two days earlier, I advised the landlord about having no heat in my room. He assured me to have it fixed the same day, but it seemed to me his words got frozen right there in my cold room. His promise apparently fell out of his head between my room and his and shattered into pieces on the floor in the hallway as icicles. I exhaled wearily in my frustration and watched my breath in the air, expecting it to turn into snow and fall on my rug in the middle of the room. I made a mental note in my head to remind him again after my work. He was a good, old man, but his seventy-eight years old brain needed a bit of boost sometimes to get things done in my room.

   After my chilly, early morning disappointment, I began to prepare my breakfast – one can of tuna, one apple, one glass of water. It wasn't much. No wonder, recently, I had a few dreams about my mother's excellent cooking. They were so vivid that I felt the freshly made cocoa of Sunday mornings in my mouth that she prepared when I was a child. And also the taste of the freshly baked bread and the melting butter on it. Unfortunately, I needed to save money for my lawyer, and I saved it up on food. My final hearing was coming up soon, and after that I needed to pay the second half of his fee. The $6000 that I had arrived with almost a year earlier was more than two years of salary in Hungary. In Canada, it covered my lawyer's fee, and that was it. I still needed to come up with the immigration fees for the government if they accepted my claim.

    My stomach made a loud growling sound when I opened the can of tuna, and the smell of it hit my nose. It wasn't an avid, hungry sound of accepting hot cocoa and freshly baked bread with melting butter on it. It was rather a protesting sound of the battered stomach of a poor immigrant which I was, but I accepted it completely because I knew that every beginning was hard in life. Sometimes, I enjoyed living in a room in the basement, leaving early in the morning and coming home at eleven o'clock at night. I was young and full of zest. There was a sense of achievement in those days. I felt that my life was going to the right direction. As far as I was concerned, my stomach could complain all day long. I had a vision in my head about my future life, and a stinking can of tuna would not dissuade me from reaching my goal. I gobbled it up, just like that, out of the can, moistening every bite with the apple. Lastly I sent the glass of water after the fish to make my stomach more hospitable for it.

    Five minutes later, after my dry tuna realized there was no escape from my belly, I sat in a seat on a streetcar, going to the nearest subway station. It was still early, and the vehicle was almost empty. I saw only the usual faces that I saw every morning, gazing out the window, heavy-eyed.

    The Green Overall, who I guessed was from the Philippines, sat in her usual seat in a big winter coat (a big, puffy coat) that somewhat resembled the Michelin Tires figure. Her green hospital suit was shown only from the knee below. The poor woman had exchanged her country of constant summer for Canada, where the winter was long and cold. However, she seemed happy.

    The elderly, black woman who always carried two big bags in her hands had chosen a seat closer to the heater of the streetcar that morning. She was close to retirement, and her joints apparently found that unpredicted cold front at the end of March intolerable. I often wondered what she could have carried in those bags of hers early in the morning. Maybe it was a curse, and she had to carry her lifelong unhappiness to everywhere wherever she went. Or, it might have been a huge surprise for – her – family – that –

   Suddenly, the streetcar made an unexpected stop, jerking a few times before it had completely stopped. We were very close to the subway station when a man in transit uniform stopped us and started to talk to the driver. The driver then ordered us off the vehicle. He said there was an accident in the subway station, and it was going to be closed for a while. They would provide buses for us and take us to another subway station.

   Well, that didn't sound good. I might be late for work, and that wouldn't sit well with my boss. I had gotten the job only three weeks earlier. It was a gardening job. What I needed to do was cut tree branches and clean out the backyard of residential areas from what the winter had left behind. The gardener was an elderly man who was a friend of my landlord – that's how I got the job. They both immigrated to Canada in 1956 when there was a revolution in Hungary. Lots of Hungarian immigrants flooded the world that year, from Australia to Canada and USA.

    He wanted me to work from 7:30 in the morning to 6 o'clock in the evening, but I couldn't do it because I had to be in a restaurant by 6 o'clock. We finally agreed to work until 4:30 in the afternoon, which would give me enough time to get to the restaurant. I could see he wasn't really happy about it, and it seemed to me that he just hired me to do a favor for his friend – my landlord.

    The first bus that came was full of people, and I couldn't get on it. I was getting nervous. If I was late, that would give an excuse for the gardener to fire me.

    The second bus that came was half full, but by the time everybody got on it, it filled up in a way that made us like herrings in a can. I stood close to the driver and overheard when he talked to someone about the accident in the subway station. I didn't understand everything with my poor English, but I had caught a few simple words and was able to put together a vague picture about what might have happened.

    “Buzz, buzz jumped. Buzz, buzz children buzz her arms. It buzz buzz. All buzz died.”

    The driver talked very fast, and I heard most of the time like there was a bee, buzzing in my straining ears. However, from one second to the other, I began to understand everything.

    “Yes, they all died. She had her two small children in her arms and jumped in front of the arriving train. It's very sad . . . Yes, mother . . . Don't worry about me!”

    Wait a second! It wasn't a man's voice. It was a very soft voice of a woman who spoke Hungarian. I turned my head to the right and saw a big skull gawking into my face with its eyeless stare. It said, still in the sexy, female voice: “I don't think I'm going to be late for work.”

   Hmm. I didn't know we still needed to work after we had died, and we all are going to have very sexy female voices.  

    The skull went on.

    “I'll be coming home right after work . . . Thanks, mom! Bye.”

   The bus stopped, and the skull got off. The young fellow with spiked hair had an unusual taste in fashion. The big brainpan from the back of his jacket had looked at me one more time before he disappeared in the crowd. As it did, my jaw dropped. The girl, who was blocked from my view by the young guy and talked to her mother in Hungarian on her cell, was still sitting in her seat. Her hair was black like the darkest night, long and straight. Her facial features looked more Asian than of a white woman's. Her eyes were dark, too, and were almond-shaped. I knew my ancestors immigrated from Asia to Europe from the Ural mountains, halfway between Europe and Mongolia more than a thousand years ago. Most of us had completely lost our Asian heritage throughout those years. However, this girl was very Oriental-looking. All of a sudden, I just realized she was looking at me with her dark eyes. I turned my head away quickly in embarrassment, but before I did, I saw her lips turning into a smile.

   What a beautiful, exotic looking woman she was! Also, she spoke Hungarian. For a few minutes, I utterly forgot about my cold room and my poor breakfast. I didn't even care if I was late for work or not. There was only the young woman on my mind who sat a few feet away from me and the growing, blazing feeling in my stomach.

    What a shame! I had no chance with her. I was a nobody.

    Well, that wasn't entirely accurate. I was a gardener in the daytime and a dishwasher in the evening. But what woman would have wanted to be with a newcomer, with a poor immigrant who didn't even know whether he could stay in Canada or not?

    I glanced at her one more time before I had to get off the bus. She didn't look at me then; she just stared out the window pensively. I got off. The engine of the bus roared up before it pulled away from the curb, and I knew I was never going to see her again.


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Comments
(Showing 1 to 9 of 9) 1
#2015-06-07 17:27:07 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Imi is back big time with a story that focuses on life in the west for an immigrant from Hungary, no doubt mirroring his own experiences moving to Canada. This looks like it is going to be another great series. Don't fail to read it.

#2015-06-07 18:54:43 by Barry1 @Barry1

@imi5922

Welcome back, Imi.

The place hasn't quite been the same since you left us last year.

I was hoping though that you were going to return to China and bring back a nice Chinese lady. I don't mean Lily, she was unsuited to you unfortunately. Her loss, not yours.

Please never say that you're a nobody. Because nobody is a nobody. Everybody is a somebody. If nothing else, you're a child of the universe and have every right to be here. More than this, you're fulfilling a purpose to be here, doing exactly what you're doing.

The cream always eventually rises to the top. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to accomplish, is all. Things always happen in their own time; at the right time.

Chin up, mate and more power to you! (y)

#2015-06-08 18:14:01 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

There's an old saying..... a little 'cheesy' perhaps, but all the same.....

"To the world you are one person, but to one person you are the world'

As a good friend said to me last night mate, she'll probably come along when you least expect it
I guess sometimes we can look too hard.
You know when you are walking down the street and suddenly you find some money that someone has dropped? Well see how often you find money in the street when you go looking for it

I guess it kind-of makes sense ?

#2015-06-08 22:03:11 by melcyan @melcyan

Imi, welcome back. It is great to have your voice back on CLM. Your story reminds me of words my partner has shared with me about her early days in Australia.

After the Tiananmen Square "incident” of 1989 my partner was given the opportunity to remain in Australia. Her early years in Australia were ones of hardship, exploitation and mental anguish. I am so grateful that she persevered and survived those difficult times.

I hope that there is someone in your life now who is similarly grateful for your perseverance throughout your difficult times as an immigrant to Canada.

#2015-06-09 10:57:49 by surpurisena @surpurisena

Hi lmi
It have been long time you did not written blog here for CLM so l figured maybe you have new gf and busy with your gf so no time here again. l guess must a lot of member here missing you because of your last blog inpress to so many reader .now welcome to you be back again and wish you good lucky in future.

#2015-06-09 20:30:14 by Imi5922 @Imi5922

@Barry1
@paulfox1
@melcyan
@surpurisena

Thank you for welcoming me back with your comments! It's good to be back!

#2015-06-11 14:33:44 by AnnaLH @AnnaLH

Well done...This blog let me recall the first hard times I ever had 20 years ago , When, I graduated form the collage and came to work in Shanghai, the damn Shanghai dialect, the complex interpersonal relationships in work...

If we say life is a journey,sometimes, on every trip, we need take a break ...clear our mental and head space...facing frustrations and the bad things in the past , breath deep, exhale, release, turn the page, then move on..as we all know, only we brave enough to say GOODBYE to the past, life would reward we a new HELLO...

A man has only one heart, but there are two artium. A live happy, A live sorrow.Even though we are happy enough at present, trying not laugh too loudly, or you will wake the flank of sorrow..Keep a peace of mind maybe would help us enjoy a pleasant journey.

#2015-06-17 10:51:33 by sunrise68 @sunrise68

I read this article carefully three times. It's moving to me, a good writing, a literature.

#2015-06-17 21:28:27 by evahuihan @evahuihan

where and when are the sequels?looking forward to them.

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