Band of Angels

Christmas in Calgary is not always full of cheer. Relying on its oil industry, the city suffers intense cycles of boom and bust.

One year, I lost both my business and family home. I had been unemployed for months. Shortly before Christmas, a chance came for me to work in Edmonton for six weeks. Edmonton was a three-hour drive from Calgary. It meant leaving my wife Laura behind to take care of our two toddlers while I was away.

It was Christmas Eve as I arrived in Calgary at the Greyhound bus terminal.

Despite the blizzard outside, I was smiling. I carried $1,600 in cash, enough for my family to celebrate Christmas after all—being a Filipina, the season was the highlight of the year for Laura.

Stepping off the bus, the -40ºC winds hit me full in the face. Through the whiteout, I spotted a taxi, ran to it and jumped in.

The taxi driver was sullen, his Arabic face a bush of dark hair. So anxious to hug my family, I counted the fare in advance. As the taxi halted, I handed the driver some notes, telling him to keep the change. By his looks, there was no point in wishing him a Merry Christmas.

My joy at reuniting with my family turned to bitter weeping. I had left my wallet with all my money in the cab. Contending with the whiteout, full of excitement at being home, I had paid no attention to the cab company name, or who the driver was. I had ruined our family Christmas. All my work in Edmonton had come to nought.

The next day, someone called. “ Did you leave your wallet in my cab?” the gruff, highly accented caller asked. “Can I deliver it to you?” Thankfully, my wallet had contained my business card. All my cash was returned. The cabbie refused to accept any reward.

Every year, be they Christian, Muslim, or Jew, angels at Christmas come to remind me of the miracle of compassion.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

My newest book ‘The Vanished Gardens of Cordova’ is available on Amazon and Kindle.
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Written by Emil Rem

An eccentric accountant becomes a writer of eccentric characters, in exotic locales, with each chapter taking us on a trip into the fascinating twisted world of Emil Rem. Born to a close knit middle class Muslim East Indian family in Dar-es-Salam in the 50’s, he is then moved to Maidenhead England at the age of five. The next twenty years are spent shuttling between England and East Africa, wearing a St. Christopher’s cross one minute and attending church, to wearing a green arm band and attending Muslim religious classes in Africa next minute. Moving to Canada, marrying a woman from the Philippines and having two boys only adds further texture to his stories.


Band of Angels