the random subway car

What are the odds in Toronto, millions of people, so many subway trains, so many different entry points to each subway cars. I get on after finishing my class, it is sevenish pm and I am planning to get a seat and eat what I made this morning, before leaving for the long afternoon teaching job. As the door closes I scan for a seat and immediately meet eyes with Anhai, she looks back without any surprise, like Dobby in the Harry Potter books.
Have not seen her in a few years. She has three or four bags, her head is shaved, a tooth missing from both the top and bottom but her way is easy, like no time passed since last time which maybe was seven years ago? I am not sure which one of us is less liked by the Ontario Arts Council. The record never came out and I was the only person they could reach for an explanation. Hard to explain the artist gave the money away and has no address.
It was a tough twist after applying for the grant and getting the whole enchilada. I never saw anyone else get it. Ten grand. She is homeless but speaks optimistically and nonchalantly and with self reliance, as she always did. She spends the days and nights riding the subway, by the way she just had her dinner. There is an empty Tim Horton box in a bag next to her. I ask what do you do at night, she says when the subway finishes at twelve she moves to the Blue line at Keele. Do you sleep on the bus? No, she takes it until 5am then starts again on the subway and maybe sleeps a little at that time. She was living at a Christian place called Lazarus House off Yonge street, but it was since sold. She is studying the Bible and the Koran. She also tells me she ministers to people. Fifteen years ago when we worked on the album, she used to speak very favourably about the shelters around Toronto. She used many but now she says they are to be avoided. She doesn’t elaborate, she doesn’t have to.
Kyp Harness was the last person who told me he saw her. He said she looked like she was wearing business attire or so is my memory of what he said. I imagined it meant she had a job that perhaps gave her a little more power. He only passed her on a moving train but I think he said he was certain it was her. In former times she had a telephone soliciting job and apparently did well with it. She always had the voice. I guessed not homeless anymore etc. The album never came out, the songs were never registered. It might only make a pittance but it should be registered and in some way situate her earning something for her own work. You never know. I could still assist her if she desires. I can make the calls and fill out the forms, as we did with the OAC grant. It only took about fifteen years to finally apply after so many conversations offering. She says she will contact me, as she usually does, ball in her court. I tell her about the Tranzac open stage, there is even a guitar on the wall.
Still many fantastic stories. People she believes to be dragons are constantly chasing her, wishing to destroy her she says. The devil is a big part of it, so is the messiah. Sometimes she too is the messiah and she smiles after that admission like someone not wanting to accept flattery. I tell her about my Phd, she is impressed. I also tell about my classmates who despised me after I told them about helping you. They think I am an asshole because I said you have mental health issues. I do she says. I know I say. What did you tell them she asks? We were supposed to present an example demonstrating how one used music to assist their community. I thought helping you apply for a grant and record your music and organize musicians etc. did that. It did – Bobby I’m glad you did that! Yeah, me too, but I don’t believe you are the messiah. I think it means you have mental health issues. I am still very blown away by your music and enjoy trying to help. She nods her head agreeing. I can tell them you’re ok if you want? Thanks Anhai, that is nice of you but it is ok. It was two years ago. I do not mind that they were so offended. To be honest I find their mental health issues worse and more dangerous because theirs can’t deal with someone saying anything real without judging and canceling them.

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