From Where We Hail ...

From Where We Hail ...

It was during a gathering I attended a few years ago, that a young girl, perhaps 8 or 9 years of age, shyly approached and asked me with a giggle 'Are you rich?'.

Out of the corner of my eye, I had noticed her watching me throughout the day, her stare lingering whenever I finished speaking. She would turn away in a flash the moment I met her eye., with the shy smile of one 'caught in the act'.

She was clearly fascinated by my 'accent' and intrigued, as were most of the children and many of the adults I came across, that I came from 'l'Ontario'. I was both amused and horrified to see myself reflected as a 'foreign entity', drawing an inordinate amount of interest and attention that I was neither accustomed to or comfortable with.

There was no 'derogatory intent' behind the curiosity, just as I feel no insult whenever people realizing that I was an anglophone, speak to me a little louder and/or a little slower than necessary. They believe that doing so will somehow facilitate my comprehesion. I sense no judgement or contempt. It is a spontaneous act of accomodation from people simply wanting to help me be 'more tlike them'. In fact, on this day, I was oddly flattered by the fact that this little girl, or anyone for that matter, would have a particular interest in me at all. I felt acceptance and the recognition that I belonged with this group.

At the same time, it was alarmingly apparent that I was also different from it.  The 'unknowns' needed to be probed. It's an expected part of integration into any group - anywhere - and I welcomed it. 

I was frankly alarmed at just how little 'some' and I stress a minority of people, seemed to know about anything beyond their immediate borders. And what was known was rather 'cliché' in nature, which brings me back to my bashful yet forthright young lady and her very direct question : 'Are you rich?' ...

The directness of my young inquisitor gave me pause. 'Are you rich ?' 
I can assure you that I do not present myself in any manner that would suggest 'affluence'. I like to belnd with my surroundings, appropriate to the occasion and I did so on this day. I did not understand what prompted such a blatant assumption. She stood waiting for my response as others listened in, equally curious, and I, equally intrigued by their unapoligetic desire to know the state of my affairs. 

I was raised to never ask such personal questions - ever. Had I done so, whichever parent was closer would have immediately put me in my place, embarassed by my brashness, despite the possibility that they too were curious to know the answer.  

Finally able to construct the only response I could come up with on the spot, without devulging any personal information - I simply and calmly asked this young lady what would make her think that ? She did not skip a beat. There was no hesitancy in the response. She looked me in the eye, straight-faced and sincere and said ... ' because my daddy says that anglophones from Ontario are all rich - god-d*** capitalists'. 
In that moment of quiet reflexation, several years ago - nothing was divulged but everything acknowledged - I saw the massive disconnect that made me 'a foreign entity' among my 'fellow citizens' ... in 'our shared' country. This child was repeating what she had heard - understanding none of it but accepting it as fact. She smiled ... I smiled ... everybody smiled ... and we went on with our day ... each with beliefs - founded or unfounded - of the other - left unspoken.