Asif Munawar

To Pearson from Pakistan

I was born in Pakistan. It was good, growing up there. I went to school, then college, then university. I graduated in 1974. After, I flew to Germany, because I’d read many books about Germany, and by the end of 1974 I was living in Frankfurt, Germany.

First, I went to school to learn German, and after one year I met a good friend who I married, because you cannot stay in Germany if you’re not married; there’s a law. I married in 1983-she died in a car accident. I started drinking myself away. Her mother came to me and said, “Now why are you killing yourself? Your wife won’t come back. You need to go back and see your family.”

So in 1983 I went back to Pakistan. My mother and father also knew my German wife, because one time I visited Pakistan with her. Then, because I had a permit to all of Europe, I went to Holland, and worked there because I had learned hotel management in Germany. I worked there for three years.

In 1986, my sister-she lived in Surrey, in Canada; she phoned me all the time, and I phoned her-she said, “What are you doing over there? Come to Canada.”

I said, “I can only come to visit, I cannot stay in Canada.”

But then she told me, “I know one family, they have two daughters. One of the daughters is my friend, she can sponsor you.”

So my second wife sponsored me, and I went back to Pakistan, my country, then I went to the Canadian Embassy. In 1987 I came to Vancouver. I had permission to stay in Canada if I got married in three months-I married in three weeks!

I worked in a hotel pub as a bartender. Then, in 1993, I had a stroke: my whole right side was paralyzed. First I went to the Lion’s Gate Hospital, and was for three months in a coma. For three months my wife came to see me everyday. After three months I woke up. I was dreaming, so I thought that I was in Germany, then the nurse told me, “This is Vancouver, Canada.”

So I said, “Can I phone someone?” I phoned my wife, and she came to visit me, and my sister came to visit me, too. Then from this hospital [George Pearson Centre], a physiotherapist went to the Lion’s Gate Hospital. She introduced herself to me and she told me, “We have a hospital in Vancouver. If you like, you can come there.” And then I came into George Pearson Centre.

My wife still visits me here, still today. You know, a funny story when I first came here, when I was in Ward 6. The doctor, a psychologist, was my friend. I told my wife, “You are young. I don’t know why you’re still here in the hospital. You should marry someone else.”

Then the doctor said, “Come to my office.”

I went into his office, and then he said, “Why are you talking stupid? Your wife loves you, she comes to visit you everyday!”

So I said “sorry”!

Then, I moved up to Ward 5, when they changed the wards and everyone was moved around. I was there for five years, and then I came up to Ward 3, for three years. I’ve been in this hospital a total of twelve years.

I like it here, it’s better than the other hospitals. I know many people; I am social. You are lucky you found me here. I have to go to the canteen everyday, to talk with friends. Also, I go to physiotherapy, and do my job: I am the mailman there, I collect the mail. I’ve done it everyday for six years. I go at 9:30 and Maggie-do you know Maggie?-she collects the mail for me. I get the mail and go to physio, deliver the mail and do my exercise. It’s volunteer work, and one time they gave me a certificate and fifty dollars to buy whatever I want in the canteen.

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