In Grade 6, I met a girl named Fatima. Her family had recently immigrated to Canada from Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. She had long, shiny black hair, expressive brown eyes and the most lovely, shapely eyebrows.
(My obsession with perfect brows began shortly after I met her. Whenever I hear the expression “eyebrows on fleek”, I can’t help but think of her, where she is today, and if her eyebrows are still fabulous. And somehow, I just know they are.)
Fatima’s family arrived in November, shortly after the first snowfall of the season. The timing of her arrival is perfectly preserved in my mind, mainly because I was tasked with walking her to and from the school office during recess.
You see, Fatima didn’t have a winter coat.
We didn’t speak during the short walks from our portable to the office, mutually overcome with embarrassment. But I recall feeling confused and irritated, thinking, who sends their kid to school in winter without a warm coat? Fatima’s jacket – what I’d consider to be a windbreaker – was thin and flimsy. …