I knew her when she was a he. All strikingly handsome, tall, curly black hair, brown eyed, lean and toned, a Somali-Canadian; strutting down the Esplanade in shockingly-bright clothes – midriff exposing tops, skin tight pants, platform shoes and cheap jewelry.

His voice screeched, and everything about him was extra.

In the beginning, he simply called me “Africa”. And then as the months wore on and we spoke more, he learnt my name and I learnt his. We were like friends who only met on the same stretch of that street: at the bottom of St. Lawrence Market.

Yesterday at Union Station, I ran into her who was once him. Hair coiffed, tumbling down her shoulders, sleek with a lot of character; trouser suit, black and well tailored; silk top with a gold broach within the jacket; black high heels. Fingernails and peeking toe nails artistically painted. Diamond studs as ear-rings. Face perfectly made up – not too loud, not mummified, human.

She glowed.

Her voice was sonorous as my name rolled off her lips like a smooth-flowing river. “Jude darling…”

I turned. I couldn’t make her out for an instant.

Seeing my confusion, she laughed. “I know. Few people still struggle to make me out. Okay, let me give you clues. Your African brother, Esplanade, on your way from work, I always stopped to ask you for a twoonie to get me something to eat.”

I was shocked.

Eleven years had passed. The transformation!

She laughed louder this time and did a pirouette.

Then she announced: “Well, this is me. My name is now … I am post-op, happily married. My husband and I have two lovely kids. And they are my life.” She paused briefly to get a reaction from me.

I was speechless.

She laughed again. “You look like you just saw a ghost. Did I tell you I went back to school?”

I found my voice. “No.” It came out as a whisper as I gazed at her.

She continued. “Well, I did. I knocked down a BA and then an MBA. Fully paid by my lover-now-husband, who always said I was too smart to waste scrounging on the beat. Met him at the bar one night. Remember … right there by … before the turn to Church Street.”


“It’s all fancy now. They’ve done it up nicely.”

“I see.”

“Well I met my husband there. All suited up and looking like seven figures. He simply said to me right on the street – Care for a drink? – And I was like – Sure why not! – He took me right in there under the noses of all those guys there who thought they were better than me, sat me in one of the booths, ordered and while we waited, he simply said – You need a shower. I fell in love before morning. He is all macho but I tell you, he is the sweetest man ever.”

“Good for you.”

“Yeah. I won the lottery. See, he paid for everything you see, the entire transformation.”


“Yeah. Everyone goes wow, and I say in my mind, guess you never thought I could get off the streets. Loud, obnoxious me. Now look at me. Don’t you just love it?”

I nodded.

She continued. “I am so happy. I work in the neighbourhood, Bay and Richmond, live up out at Liberty Village. Beautiful penthouse condo, stunning views. You should come visit. You know if I ran into you last week, I would have invited you to come breakfast with me. Iftar dinners were awesome, strictly vegan though, and then Eid over the weekend was wow. Of course my family wouldn’t see me, but then, whatever. My kids, my husband and I had the time of our lives.”

“That’s lovely.”

“He is Christian, so adorable, and funnily pretty religious in a weird kind of way, but fasted with me in solidarity. The kids hated us.”

“Did they fast?”

“Those heathens? Never! All they do is eat us into welfare.”

I laughed. “How old are they?”

“Twins, five years. The most adorable munchkins you’ll ever meet, but trust me, they are so much sometimes, I just want to flush them down the toilet. Married yet?”


“What? You know I could hook you up. I know this gorgeous hottie. She –”

The train roared into the station. She turned to it. “I’ve got to go.” She opened her lovely expensive purse, brought out her card and pushed it into my hand. “Call me.” Then she leaned forward and kissed me on my cheeks. “Catch you soon, handsome.”

And she fled into the train.

The doors shut and the train roared away.

I stood there watching it for an instant, before I looked down at the card in my hands. My eyes bulged as I read the details on her business card.

And all I could whisper was “Wow.”

Written by Jude Idada

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  1. Mandy
    June 22, 11:28 Reply

    Wow. Just… Wow. This life sha.

  2. Hermoine
    June 22, 15:09 Reply

    The “wow” should be what homophobic folks should be saying each time they see a successful transgender, gay or lesbian.

    No dulling people, step up your game, outdo yourself in your various fields and careers, and watch your haters stutter to say WOW each time they see you.

  3. Icarus
    June 23, 18:03 Reply

    wow is all i can say too

  4. Vina
    June 25, 14:15 Reply

    Wawu!!! Mind blown!!

    How one meeting with a person can change your life tho..

    Sometimes for the worse and other times to the best…..


  5. Dickson Clement
    June 27, 21:20 Reply

    How she read the epistle of her life in one second, whether they were standing or walking, we don’t even know! Good story but the narrative didn’t land well

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