March 6 – love thy neighbour

225/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As an early teenager, living in a one family home that required a lot of work inside and out and my dad not able to help out with the upkeep, my mom was tasked with a lot of the home maintenance. My sister and I did what we could and tried to help out as much as we could in the days before the internet era where now one can look up fixes or find and compare handypersons in a moment.   My mom is a very outgoing person who quickly makes friends because of her personality (hmmm, I wonder if I took after her) and she made some friends in the neighbourhood. The one family that became quite close to us were Mr & Mrs Jiwa. My mom, being slightly ignorant as to their heritage, thought they emigrated from Fiji and coined the terms the Fijians – can you be racist if you are of the same skin colour?   My sister and I didn’t know their names and so Uncle Fiji and Auntie Fiji was what we called them for several years until they finally told us our mom was wrong!! The Jiwas told us stories of their escape from Idi Amin in Africa and starting life over in Canada. Uncle Fiji fixed everything in our house – at times I felt bad for him because anything from the car to the laundry machine to a broken lamp in our house, my mom was fast to call him and he dutifully came over to fix it. But the relationship was symbiotic as my mom would cook extravagant Indian foods and have them over for dinner or make extra and send them a care package. They became very close to our family just like regular extended family members – at baby showers, weddings, engagement parties – any event we had, they were right there with us. I am very grateful to have had them as neighbours on the street and for my mom to have had someone to share friendship with in Auntie Fiji and rely on to help around the house in Uncle Fiji. Although my mom has moved out of the neighbourhood as have they, all of them still keep in touch and I do see the Jiwas occasionally at my mom’s different functions. Thank you Uncle and Auntie Fiji for being there for all of us growing up and even as an adults and especially being there for my mom!

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