Surviving: Contents

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY….
CHAPTER ONE: THE PAST – PART ONE
CHAPTER ONE: THE PAST – PART TWO

CHAPTER ONE: THE PAST – PART THREE

CHAPTER ONE: THE PAST – PART FOUR

 

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Shifting Mindsets

The tap tap tap of my feet on the road

The hum of the car nearing behind me

The cheer of the crowd chanting my name

urging me to the finish line

Asmaa! Asmaa! Asmaa!

You can do it!

The drip of the sweat rolling down the small of my back

The cramp in my calf as my foot thuds down on the pavement

The creak in my ankle

The sun on my head

The parched feeling deep in my throat

The realization that nobody is calling my name

I am a dreamer

I am ready to quit

I give up

What am I doing anyway?

Why am I doing this?

The dog barking

The birds chirping

The lady on the running App cutting through my music

“Time,” she says, “14 minutes – distance 2km completed”

This amps me on

My timing is getting better on the second KM

I ran for 2km straight

I am proud

I am a dreamer

I can do this!

I WILL do this!

only 4 more km to go

Today

But in 5 weeks…

I will have 40 more km to go

I can do this!

I will do this!

I will be tired

I will want to give up

I will want to curl up in a ball and have ice showered over me

I will want to quit this ridiculous journey

But I won’t

I will persevere

I will race on

or crawl through

and I will finish!

If I believe I can then I WILL!!!!

 

Good evening My Dear Dear Readers…

Once again, I got lost in life and I’m here to share a part of my journey. I wish I could share more, more often… but more often than not I fall into bed exhausted at the end of each day. Running, thinking, teaching, kids, studying, printing, talking, washing, cooking, teaching, homework, talking, thinking, kids, nappies, thinking, studying, dreaming, snacking, thinking, dreaming, slumber! This is how my day looks like on a good day. And I’m pretty sure that no matter who you are (especially the ladies out there *wink*) this is probably something like what your day looks like too.

The key is to never give up. Keep your end goal in sight, always! Don’t look down, ever! Look ahead, towards where you’re heading to. And turn around to look back sometimes…. because you will be amazed at how far you have come! You will have bad days, but they won’t last. You will have better days, when you will learn that it will all be fine. and you might have worst days, which come so that we can appreciate the bad days and looks forward to better days. And you will march on. You will become stronger, better and rise as high as you say you are going to rise!

I will take off and leave you with the words of the craziest author I know…

 

dr.seuss

 

Thanks for reading…

Asmaa ❤

#5weeks left till Race day!

 

p.s. If you have any running tips I would love to hear them!

I am always Surviving… My Journey

I am always surviving

enduring, embracing

striving, striking

I am always surviving

recoiling, resilient

compromising, continuing

I am always surviving

thoughtful, thorough

pushing, preaching

I am always surviving

blistering, believing

dividing, delivering

I am always surviving

a baby, the man

your drama, my plans

I am always surviving

your words, their stares,

our fears, my thoughts

I am always surviving

this age, that day

the world, my destiny….

 

Hello to all my Extraordinary Readers

I know it has been a long time since I shared something a little more personal. I can’t count the amount of times I have actually wanted to post, but I just didn’t have the time, or when I did have the time I forgot what I wanted to say, and when I remembered again there wasn’t any time… and on and on the circle continued. But even though I have MANY, MANY, MANY things happening in my life right now I have just gone back to school after a month break (how awesome!?) and I feel somewhat calmer after the break, if you can call it that! With 4 kids I don’t think I will ever know what calm is again! So anyway… before I bore you to death lemme tell you about my plan to blog again (touch wood!!!)

I am passionate about a few things in life. Oh, who am I kidding?! I have more passion in me than a Telenovela (Yes, I watch Jane the Virgin), for more things that I can count or remember. Of course you all know that my greatest passion is writing, and reading automatically follows, and both have taken a nosedive post Surviving. I am also passionate about teaching and playing a hand in facilitating a much needed shift in the education system in order to build a better foundation for the future generation. After publishing Surviving, I began teaching at an amazing school called Nova Pioneer and I have grown so much and look forward to growing further. This wasn’t a solo feature. My growth would not be possible without mentors to guide me and beautiful, deep friendships that blossomed into a sisterhood. I was always crazy, over-the-top and divergent in my actions and thinking, so Nova Pioneer was the perfect fit me. I wasn’t asked to fit in a mould, but rather to create my own, and it could be a mould, a box, a chicken coop or a goddamn rocket ship! At Nova Pioneer they encouraged my crazy, and embraced it, which led me to my newly developed passion – Running.

Every year, Nova Pioneer runs an initiative (explained below) to raise funds.

Kilometers 4 The Kids (or #K4TK) is a network-wide initiative to raise money for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics), student scholarships and innovation programmes that will further our existing efforts of preparing our students to be innovators and leaders in the 21st Century. This athletic initiative challenges Nova Pioneer staff and families to compete in a half (21km) – or full (42km) marathon in Kenya or South Africa. On 28 October, our Kenyan peers will compete in the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon and a week later, 8 November, Team South Africa will take on the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon.
You may also donate toward this initiative! Remember it is going towards raising funds for tomorrow’s people … Follow this link to donate and read more about this initiative.

I think I have to go now ( toddler nag, preschooler nag, husband time and all that jazz….) I promise to blog and document as much of my training journey as I can.

And I promise to be back as soon as life allows. In the meantime, click on all the links to read about our amazing schools and this year’s K4TK initiative.

My newfound passion for running drives me to leave you with a question. Exactly how crazy do you think I am? Would I brave out the 21.1km or totally complete the 42km and die trying to SURVIVE? (Okay 2 questions – I never claimed to be concise – only crazy.)

 

Thank you to all my loyal readers who keep coming back….

Enjoy your weekend!

Much Love,

Asmaa

Reflections

Reflections

Mirror, mirror on the wall… why so tall? why so skinny? Why so much pigmentation? Why such droopy eyes?

Mirror, mirror on the wall… when I look deeper I see it all.

I am a woman. I am a woman who cannot walk by a mirror or glass door (or my cellphone’s camera) without making judgement. So today I took a long, hard look. Who am I, really? Like so many others who have submitted before me, I can agree now that I hit my thirties, that I am not only that surface reflection that I see of myself.

I AM A WARRIOR!

In my own right, I am a warrior. I have seen pain. I have felt pain that clutches so tightly at your heart, I thought it would explode. I have felt the pain of others, like a weight of bricks constricting my blood flow. I have lost. At love, at play, at business. I have had lows, and blows and knock me downs.

I AM A SURVIVOR!

I have survived all of that, and in spite of losing and hurting, I can love! I can see the sun shining. I can smile at strangers. I can fall in love with movie stars and book characters. I can laugh till my tummy aches. I can inhale deeply and fill my lungs with all that Mother Nature has to offer. I want to find the golden pot at the end of the rainbow.

I AM A WIFE!

I cook for him ( and wishes he would return the favour). I have long conversations about nothing and everything. I give my all, and get it all in return. I am his supporter, his encourager, his motivator. I am his partner in life, and business.

I AM A MOTHER!

I multitask. I am looking at myself in the mirror, writing this and shushing my two-year old so that I can think. I am their protector, their guide, their nurse, their comforter and their entire world. I feel needed and wanted. I am trusted with life.

I AM A TEACHER!

I have the ability to love these children as my own. It is my job to lay the foundations for these tiny human beings, that will set the precedence for the rest of their lives. I will help shape tomorrow’s people. I am important.

I AM AN AUTHOR!

Yes! My greatest dream has been accomplished. In 2013 I published my first novel called “Surviving”. Yes! I managed this with no formal writing lessons in my life. Just a love of reading and writing. Yes! I judged myself and told my publishing partner to only print 100 copies. She didn’t listen and we sold out 1000 copies. Determination, dreams and duas (prayers) helped me achieve this deep desire of mine.

I AM A DREAMER!

I still have hopes and dreams. I want to complete my BEd. I want to write many more inspiring novels. I want to see one of my students running for president. I want make such a strong mark in the world, that future generations in my lineage will be proud that my blood flows through their veins.

I AM SOUTH AFRICAN!

I am a child of democracy. I was only 8 years old when our beautiful country walked out of Apartheid and into democracy, and even though I don’t remember much, and haven’t experienced much of the former era, I am proud that we were able to walk to freedom. I absolutely love being part of a rainbow nation, and I am proud to celebrate my “colourful” heritage.

I AM ME!

I am hilarious, down-to-earth, and comfortable in my own skin. My reflection is beginning to make faces at me now. “Why can’t you ever be brief and to the point?” she questions with her eyes. “Because my love of words runs too deep,” I write.

 

P.s. I know I have been away for way too long. I couldn’t even remember how to log in, or navigate my way around! Life has got in the way of my dreams, my writing has taken a few years pause… I will be back one day! For now… and then…. I will pop up and share bits and pieces! Thank you for your belief in me and your patience that one day I will…again….

To Sir… with LOVE

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 ❤

Help us Read

Hi all,

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 survivin@yahoo.co.za

“Today’s reader is tomorrow’s leader.”

Thanks

Book Bytes

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 ♡

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H4U
Sister Babi – +27 72 620 2841

Book Bytes
Khalida 0731534063 / khalidamoosa@gmail.com

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) 📚

What more can we do, oh Palestine?

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?!!

Bi Ruhi
With our souls
Bi dammi
With our blood
Nafdeeqi ya Filisteen
We will free you, oh palestine!

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Is this fair?

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Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

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Words

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 💕

New Story – Rich Girl, Poor Girl

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…

Much Love

Asmaa 

Witness

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

Broken dreams…
Shattered souls…
Sunken hearts…
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

Red carpets…
Standing ovation…
Parents pride…
are witness to dreams come true.