My wife looks over the obituaries of two newspapers every day.
I think it’s because she’s secretly hoping to find my name there.
No such luck as of yet. But she did strike a connection. “Did you know a Rishma Singh who was born in 1956 and went to Beaconsfield High School?” she asked one Saturday morning while scanning the obits of the Globe and Mail.
“Let me see that.” Of course I did. Rishma and I had both entered Beaconsfield High School in Grade Eight in 1969 and had been in lots of the same classes together. Rivals in a way, although she was much too gentle and pure a soul to ever admit as much. I never suffered from those same faults.She was easy to remember. An East Indian girl in a Montreal suburb that back in the day still did not have a lot of non-European immigrants. In particular we seemed to share a lot of the same English classes as we made our way through the ranks of good ‘ol B.H.S. and those courses seemed to be our strong suits. Teachers often seemed to pick on us by sometimes choosing our work to read out loud to the rest of the class. I particularly remember her reviewing ‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy in Grade Nine while I was reading ‘Scrubs on Skates’ and ‘Touchdown Pass.’ Rishma was always serene and confident during these moments while I slowly sunk into my seat while my jock friends laughed and pointed at me.
Our ambitions were different. I didn’t seem to have any. Her obituary mentioned that she ended up teaching Creative Writing at York University and had published five books of poetry.
I ended up writing this blog with as far as I can realize, five dedicated readers. We all find our proper level in life.
Finding your peers’ names in the obituaries can be a sobering experience and a reminder that it was once written that even our very days are numbered. That reminds me to start the process of applying for my Old Age Security as soon as I wind up this article. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes wonder what happened to all those hundreds of kids I grew up with and then were scattered to the winds of the Anglophone Diaspora that was launched by Rene Levesque’s Parti Quebecois victory in 1976. I follow the news as closely as anyone but there’s not an ex-Prime Minister or a serial killer among them.
So if you are out there, let me know. I’d rather hear from you than read your obituary.