What can I say? Where do I begin? These words have been lost inside me for so long, bouncing within the walls of my soul. Eight months.Long months that went by so quickly. I don’t even know how to string any one of these to complete a whole sentance. I don’t know what these words are. Does anybody? They are laments, and painful tears. They are fond memories. They are childhood visions that are so vivid in my mind. These words began speaking to me slowly on that fateful night. That awful, heart-wrenching, tragic night when we lost you…
I got a call from my brother, telling me that my granny phoned and he couldn’t understand what she was trying to say. My uncle had met in an accident on their way back from Durban. What? I asked him, swallowing the lump that had built in my throat the moment he said my granny called him. She tried to call me, but I was in the bathroom. With a racing heart and sweaty palms, I phoned her back. Till this day her voice over the phone haunts me. The urgency with which she willed this dreadful news not to be still claws at my heart and I wish I could make it go away. Even now, after all these months, my arms get goosebumps and my hearts thumps so hard I’m afraid of it bursting out of my chest. She was hysterical. She received a call that my uncle and his family had met in accident on their way home from Durban. She didn’t know if it was true. She didn’t know who to call to find out any news. She was alone. She was afraid. This was her baby boy. My aunty was in Durban, and my own parents were with my unlce’s youngest daughter in Mozambique.
Who do I call? The first person I always call is my mother. But she was across the border and I couldn’t get through. I tried to calm her down. To assure her that everything was going to be okay. But it wasn’t. It would never be the same. I willed myself to be strong for her. My husband made a few calls. I called my Foi. We comforted each other with a sense of hope that everything would be fine. I called my granny back to make sure she was fine. I told her I was on my way to Azaadville. I ran around my house trying to gather children and pack clothes and bottles and socks. I packed socks because Azaadville always got cold at night. I stuffed them into gowns and wrapped them in blankets, and I ran downstairs with a handful of clothes falling all over the place. I ran back upstairs as my husband loaded the sleeping children into the car. I grabbed a bag and stuffed the clothes in. I grabbed another bag and stuffed more things in, I can’t even remember the contents. I almost started crying once, but I willed myself not to.
I finally got through to my mother. They had heard the news, but no one knew anything further. I spoke to my brother. I spoke to my Foi. I spoke to my brother again on the stairs on my way down. Nothing was confirmed but three people were dead. I sat down in the car and burst into tears. I wanted none of them gone. Was it cruel to hope that the three dead were from another car? My eldest son woke up amid the chaos to ask what was happening. Seeing me in tears, he began crying as well. I knew I had to get a hold of myself. I took a deep breathe and assured him that all was okay. He fell asleep crying in the back seat. My brother called back. The driver of the car was one of three. The passenger. And someone in the backseat. My mind started racing with possibilities. How were they sitting? My uncle!!!!! My mind was screaming and I was trying so very hard not to panic. My granny was alone and she needed me. I whispered prayers. I tried to read Yaseen. I begged Allah to keep them safe. My husband’s uncle called. I can hear his voice as clear as if it was this morning. I can feel the echo of the aftermath as the news sunk in without really hitting me at all. I felt myself slipping away. I handed the phone to my husband. It is confirmed. Aslam, Fatima and Muhammad passed away. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’oon. May Allah grant them Jannatul Firdows.
I relive this night every single day. I accept Allah’s decision to remove these beautiful souls from this darkening world. They are in a better place. It is us who have to live on and try to fill the void. It is his three beautiful, strong daughters who have to go on, every single day in the hopes that they will meet them one day in Jannah. Ameen.
I would like to follow this sad post with the tribute I wrote for my uncle at his memorial, held by his school, Ahmed Timol Secondary.
I stand here today with such deep sorrow, my heart is hanging at my feet, for never in a million years would I have dreamt that I have to pay this tribute, and so very soon. My earliest memory of the late Mr. Aslam Khan is of him making me laugh, and my last memory is of him making my own sons laugh. I look back and I can’t think of a single child who has passed by either Aslam, or his wife Fatima, and the child was not drawn to them, or whom they did not share their genuine smiles with.
My name is Asmaa Khan, and the late Muhammad Aslam Khan was my beloved uncle, my father and my teacher all rolled into one. A heavy task, that only he was able to carry out so honourably. He and his Fatima so generously opened their home to me, He raised me, together with my granny, and guided me as his own daughter for almost 16 years.
You didn’t just teach life science, you taught us life, Sir….
Whatever he did, his mission was to teach through it. Even in the classroom, he never adopted that stern teacher-behind-the-desk-way. He had a way to engage his learners, and put things across in such a manner, that only he could. His teaching style was jovial, though he was stern where he needed to be.
Let us look back into his life and draw from some of the few lessons he left behind as a legacy.
Some of you may know that he wasn’t always exactly the ‘model student’ and he never claimed to be. He mentioned it countless times in his many chats to his students. That is why he always included the phrase, “I’m ten steps ahead.” But he was able to turn his life completely around, and use himself unabashedly as an example that there was, and still is hope for those that have slipped through, or are lost and struggling to find direction. From this example, let us take the lesson of hope. Things will turn around, everything gets better, and most importantly, change lies within ourselves. We just have to be willing to admit our mistakes, and be ready to take the first step forward.
What the right hand gives, the left hand shouldn’t know about. This is another lesson we should draw from Mr. Khan. He gave, even when he had nothing to give. And I am good testament to this statement. There were days when he had no money to fix his cars, but he made sure to drive me to school. There were nights spent in the dark, but neither husband or wife phoned my parents to ask them to collect me because I was an extra mouth to feed. And now, years later, when they had even more, they gave even more, as we are finding out each since their passing on. This wasn’t a mere man. This was a humanitarian and there are no words I have to describe him that will do justice to his qualities.
There are probably a thousand more lessons we could take from the lifestyle he led, but I will leave with one more that is essential in living life. That is passion and dedication. Whatever you do, do it with so much passion that it fills your life with meaning, and as much dedication that you can already envision the end result of 100% perfection and no room for failure. That is why, through Mr. Khan, all those he touched in some way, we are that much better versions of ourselves. Because he was willing to believe in us. He was willing to give us that chance. The isn’t a single teacher who has the passion and dedication to phone the homes of his learners to find out why they were not attending school on that particular day. And drive over if he suspected they were trying to bunk.
Passion is the powerful force in accomplishing anything you set your mind to, and in experiencing work and life to the fullest extent possible. Ultimately, passion is the driving force behind success and the happiness that allows us to live better lives. And so, when we measure the success of my dear unlce Aslam’s life, we should gauge this success by the amount of lives he touched, and aspire to instil even a percentage of his lifestyle into our own lives. How lucky are we all to have known such a dynamic personality.
Yes! Our family has lost its soul. The community and school has lost a limb, but let this heartbreaking, colossal loss not be in vain. Let us go out there and celebrate his life by trying to emulate the qualities he adopted.
May Almighty Allah elevate Aslam’s, Fatima’s and sweet Muhammad’s status in Jannah, and may he grant us all the courage to step up and adopt these changes. Ameen.
Please remember my family in your duas. Remember my beloved grandmother, my father, my Foi. Remember his three beautiful girls, Sabeeha, Sameera and Yaseera. Pray that one day the pain will subside and Jannah awaits us all, so the link in the broken chain may be mended again❤
I hope that you are all well.
I am starting a new journey in my life. I begin teaching little souls great things next year at Pioneer Academy in Ormonde, Johannesburg. (You can learn more about this extraordinary school by clicking on the link above)
This does not mean I intend to stop writing. It means that I will now learn more and will be able to extend that knowledge in my future endeavours. Every new step is a new adventure.
I’m trying to rally help for our school.
To start up our school library we need a
number of books for the students to get access to next year. If anyone has books they dont need please donate them to our school. We need books suitable for both primary and senior school students.
If you’re interested in helping please comment with your email address so that I can contact you to make further arrangements. or you can email me at email@example.com
“Today’s reader is tomorrow’s leader.”
Dear loyal readers….
I am sure most of you are disappointed in me and my absence. I sincerely apologise for my lack in providing you with reading material for the past several months. I am trying to work on a piece, and as many of you know, I am slow. So please forgive me. I don’t want to share what I have yet, because I cannot promise that once I begin posting I may have enough to give you should I face any sort of block or hurdle. When I finally give it to you, I want to try to give you the best I am capable of. Time hasn’t been on my side this year. We are all constantly facing challenges that life throws at us, and I’m busy trying to whack it for a six. Until then, I will touch base with you from time to time letting you know I am still here.
Earlier this week, I received a called from a beautiful, intelligent young woman, Khalida. She extended an invite to be apart of her brainchild, the Book Bytes book club. I was honoured that she had reached out and asked me to join. And I was super excited that someone had finally put in the effort to begin a book club. The first meeting was yesterday (Thursday, 23rd October) and took place at a quaint little coffee shop (A Pinch of Thyme) in a beautiful nursery nestled right in the middle of everywhere. I fell in love as soon as I stepped into the serenity and peace of the Tulip Garden Centre (old Leeways). My lungs were happy. My eyes were darting everywhere, trying to take in all the splendid colours at once, and file them away, because it’s not everyday we see such an array of sense infused wonder in this concrete jungle called Jozie.
I met other incredible human beings, had a cuppa, discussed our passions, made new friends. It was good. It was great. It was freaking amazing! This is what mother’s dreams are made of. Simple things. Small stuff that are huge and very important. This was ME time. Something that all mother’s forget they need.
I was touched by another sister Babi, who has initiated a support group called H4U, who addresses matters that deal with the issues we are facing in our communities and hosts several recreational services as well. Listening to her talk about helping other people and pledging her time to be there weekly, whether anyone comes or not, makes me realise that there is a bigger purpose to life, and we only have to realise that if we all donate an hour a week, or even a month, of our time, we can make a huge difference to someone else, and you wouldn’t even know it.
I am honoured to be a part of something big in such a small way.
If anyone is interested in participating in the next book club meeting or joining the support group, I will post details below.
Remember to continue praying for me, for guidance and inspiration and the ability to inspire you. I love you all ♡
Sister Babi – +27 72 620 2841
Khalida 0731534063 / firstname.lastname@example.org
And for those of you who wish to join in on the fun, tomorrow is your day:
Book Bytes meeting on Friday, 24 October at 15h00 – The terrace, Ormonde, (upstairs Mochachos) 📚
From deep underneath the rubble
Your cries of pain reach our souls
And your pleas for freedom and justice and humanity reach our hearts and rise above the thunderous bombs dropping down on you…
We are embarrassed that all we can do is shed tears while you shed blood as the shrapnel cuts through your flesh and scatters your bones…
You are so dedicated and valiant, fighting in the front row, never afraid to give up, never afraid that death is underneath your nose or a centimeter above your hairline…
We ought to be ashamed, because we cannot even pursue the jihad within ourselves and against our desires to do what is right and give up what is wrong and harmful to you
That is why Allah chose you, and not us…
The least we can do is cringe at the pictures of your children, barricade our social networks to make the world aware and remember you in whispers conversations around our tea tables
And sadly, the most we will do is make dua for you and pledge our money in the hopes that aid will reach you
We will March across our towns and cities with placards and posters and chants in the hopes that the world leaders open their eyes, that someone opens their eyes and stops this genocide, this massacre, this brutal swallow of an entire race and culture
I am ashamed to be a human and alive, safe and sound, with my menial worries…
In my heart of hearts I feel the thumping of anger towards your perpetrators, but that is not enough
What more can we do? What more can we do? What more can we do, oh palestine?!!
With our souls
With our blood
Nafdeeqi ya Filisteen
We will free you, oh palestine!
Is this fair?
Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.
Broken syllables metamorphosised into pain, rage, love, beauty…
The flick of the tongue and the meeting of lips…
Words are the outlet of soulful journeys and mindless banter
Words are thoughts
They are harsh and healing
Words are strung together as a barrage of insults to stab the receiver
It is the soothing salve sung out to heal the listener
They are slithering snakes that slide across tongues and have the ability to crush spirits and destroy lives
And they are sweet seductions that create melting moments
And they are reverberating sentiments that ignite inspiration
The second it leaves, the sound it makes lasts a second or two, lingering,
But the impact it makes last forever
Words are the choices we make to voice them or keep silent ♡
(Asmaa Khan: 6/7/14)
Ramadan Kareem to every one of you beautiful souls. May we use this month to spiritually cleanse our souls and hearts and bodies and may Allah accept our efforts and ibaadah. Remember me and my family in your duas 💕
So, I have disappeared. Writing demons are a thing of it’s own. I couldn’t think of anything to write, the words just wouldn’t come. I feared that this was it, Surviving was all my brain had to give. I wondered if I would ever find any other ideas. I have hit a brick wall with concerns to Bilkis’ story, and I have spent many blank hours staring at my computer screens in the hopes of something passing through my fingertips onto the keyboard. And what I do already have is not enough to give. So one day I just opened my notebook, and the words flowed, something entirely new popped forth in my brain, and I knew that Allah wasn’t done whispering words into my soul. Maybe all I needed was a little “old-school” inspiration.
My mind has been working so hard to try to give you something else after Surviving, and now Shukr to Allah, I have the words to give you…
Not just yet, though… I need enough so I don’t have too many pauses in between…
In the meantime I request that you make dua that Allah guides me in my writing, and that he use me as a means to inspire and motivate through my writing…
Fallen leaves are witness to winter’s coming
Steaming roads are witness to summer’s rain
Injured toes are witness to her graceful pivot
Silver streaks are witness to wisdom
are witness to hope and love and loss
Degrees and diplomas are witness to contentious minds
Scars and bruises are witness to holding on
Yellowing teeth are witness to the puff of nicotine
Messy houses are witness to happy homes
Kind smiles are witness to beauty within
are witness to dreams come true.
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Any other query please email: email@example.com
For the first time in my life I have almost no words to describe the deep emotion I feel as people read my words all over South Africa. I leave you with my speech that I recited at the launch.
Ever since I can remember I had a dream. One day I would see my name on the cover of a book. My heart swelled when I dreamed about this, so you can only imagine the overwhelming emotion I feel now as my dream becomes a reality. My love of reading knows no bounds and I only have my late grandfather and my mother to thank for that. I remember reading from a very young age, and I am trying to the best of my ability to instil the same love of books in my children.
I knew the only way to complete a book was to write everyday, a little at a time, and I vowed to myself that I would finish a book one day, even if it took my whole life. Alhamdulillah, today I have not only accomplished my dream, but so much more. I have learned more about life and people. My eyes have opened wide and so has my heart. When I write I am transported into a different world, where anything is possible and everything is magical. When people asked me what inspired me to write a book, I could not give them a reason, other than I wanted to do it. Now, I finally understand why I wrote “Surviving”! It was the foundation of many great starts in my life. Firstly, beautiful bonds have solidified because of this journey. But most importantly, it gives the victims a voice! It allows us a glimpse into their world, and even though we would never be able to truly understand the depth of their situations, we are now able to open our hearts and assist a worthy cause by trying to get them help!
Today is not only about getting your copy of Surviving, scurrying back home and reading it. This is about reading it, understanding Mumtaz’s journey, helping others in her situation, even if you only have the ability to make a dua on their behalf, and most importantly not judging the next persons choices in life. Today is about the victim of abuse! I pledge my solidarity to always help another woman wherever I can, to the best of my abilities. Allah didn’t create us the weak, feeble creatures we are so often made out to be. Within us there is indestructible strength, which breaks free when we are tested, again and again. A womans tears are not her weakness. It is an outlet of the pain, and hurt and agony that her heart weeps, to make place for the resounding resilience that she displays. So pray not for her strength, but for sound wisdom so that she is able to make the best decision for herself.
I would like to offer thanks to all those who made this dream of mine possible. Firstly, to the Almighty for breezing the words into my heart so that I could weave them into a story. To my husband, my parents and all my family for being here today to mark this special occasion. To Ask Nanima, for making this dream a reality. To Taahira Rubidge, for her excellent editing and typesetting skills. To Saaleha Bamjee, for her amazing camera and design work. To my blog readers, for believing in Mumtaz’s story and opening your heart, as I have. To Mariam Fakir, who couldn’t be with us today but without who this ChariTea wouldn’t have been possible. To all the generous people that have donated wholeheartedly to this cause.
The proceeds from the ChariTea will be donated to Nisaa Institute for Womens Development.
I would like to thank the following people for donating various items for the chariTea:
NiqiLivingLuxe, Stashy’s, Tasneem Jadwat Casoojee, Fatima Laher, Khadija Mohamed, Theshni Govender, Basheera Mayet, Uncle Haroon Moolla (Scarves Unlimted), Moosa’s Sales Room (Plaza), Haberdashery Supermarket (Plaza), Edible Elegance, and those helping hands who assisted in the setting and manning of the tea tables. Jazakallah also to all those who attended to support me and share that special moment with me.
Please continue to make dua for me on my journey to better myself. May Allah guide me in my writing so that through me, our youth can open their eyes, and through my words I become a source of inspiration and motivation to many more. And make dua that I am able to write with ease, and produce something else equally as gripping as “Surviving”. I am not done… within me there is insurmountable energy waiting to be transferred into words… My journey has only begun.
(Pics to follow)
My loyal, patient, faithful readers
First of all, my deep apologies for going AWOL! Alhamdulillah, this journey has been amazing. I certainly couldn’t have done it without your encouragement, persuasion, dedication and duas. This is just the beginning of my quest… I always wanted to write a book before, but those were for selfish reasons. I wanted to write it for me, for my own pride. I wanted to write it for my mother’s pride and my grandfather’s. I wanted to see my name on the shelves. Now that I have, I finally understand the purpose about why I have written Mumtaz’s story. Finally, my life has more meaning, a moral purpose… This journey of Mumtaz’s has taken me to different heights, and through my readers my eyes have opened wider to the realities we are facing everyday.
As most of you know…. this Friday (21 March 2014) is the official launch of “SURVIVING”. It will take place at Nizamiye Complex (Turkish Masjid) in Midrand. Click on this for details or to order your book. Please spread the word. On BBM, Whatsapp, Facebook, by word of mouth and any other way you can. We will also be having a ChariTEA, with limited goodies, tea and coffee, and ribbons for sale. The proceeds from this will go to a charity orginisation, Nisaa, which helps abused women. Remember this is not only about getting your hands on a copy of “SURVIVING”, but also about opening our hearts to a great cause, so come along with everyone you know. Come with big hearts and fatter wallets to help those like Mumtaz who are in Real Life situations.
I thank you all for being with me on this amazing, inspirational journey. And look forward to meeting you on Friday. For those of you who cannot attend, please note that there are pick up points in Major cities (Johannesburg Cape Town & Durban) on the same day as launch. There is also a postage and courier option for next week. Take care, remember me in your duas, and pray for a successful day and beautiful weather.