Saturday, 29 March 2014

Remembering Sara...

Source: Internet
I have been wanting to write about her ever since 8 March - the day we started celebrating International Women's Day.

There have been stories of powerful, compassionate and strong women featured all over newspapers, including a series of stories of women in my organisation that I had proposed in our publication.

Sara was one such woman I had met in my life.

I used to give tuition to children to earn some extra income to manage my university expenses till I graduated. Most of these kids lived around our area; so they would come home for lessons. As such, one of these kids told me that her tenant was keen in taking up English lessons from me. I was apprehensive at first; given her age and I was not sure if I could be of much help to her. That child came back the next few days and said that the new 'student' was really interested and would love a chance to meet me at least once.

I agreed. And that was the first time I met Sara. She was at our door with a notebook, looking very demure and sweet, in a long skirt and blouse. I had arranged specially for her session as I needed to find out how I could help her.

Sara, short for her full name, was working in the hospitality industry and she was from just across the Causeway. She probably just finished secondary school as her family situation drove her to take on a job shortly after. She was very close to her father, she shared; but Sara had lost both her parents. She had elder brothers back home, whom she would visit every now and then.

She was my age. Right from our first meeting, we cliqued. After day one, we were like friends who had known each other for many years; we could chat about everything. She was always bubbly and easily got along well with Mum and Dad too. 

We had a different childhood, different education, practised different religions (spoke the same language though), yet had so much to talk about. She would insist on addressing me the way my other family members would and I had no issues with that at all. Our first tuition session was in our living room, as with all other children. But with Sara, I didn't feel she was just another 'student'. From the second session, we held our learning sessions in my room, where our friendship grew. Alhamdhulilah.

She came to me with the intention to learn to speak and write English. She was doing fine with simple conversations at that time, but wanted to learn more to be able to take on a course, get a better job, upgrade and do better in life. This wonderful friend also had plans for marriage.

She had earlier attended courses at some centres but told me that they were too advanced for her and didn't really help her a lot. I tried my best to help her. Teaching Sara was really meaningful. She would say, ''Don't talk to me in Tamil during lessons, please. Speak in English. I really want to learn, improve and get better". Masha-Allah.

For these sessions that I had with my friend, she would diligently hand me my 'fees' every month. I would refuse but she still forced them into my hands or left them in between pages of my books on the table we we held our sessions. When I returned them to her when we next met, she would do an 'emotional blackmail' on me, saying she would not come for lessons anymore if I refused the fees.

She wasn't earning very much, from which she had to pay her rentals, manage transport and personal expenses for clothes, etc, send money to her family back home and still insisted on giving me some for teaching her.

This is what my friend was about.

She appreciated every minute that life had to offer her. She had good dress sense, definitely much better than mine. She was always smiling and had positive energy around her all the time. Whenever I found time to try out an elaborate dish or two, and when I knew Sara was off work, I would buzz her. She would readily come over too and be a genuine food critic, always full of constructive comments. Sara and I had planned to go out shopping sprees, but we didn't make it happen though, because she worked shifts and I was juggling my school classes with tuition sessions.

She was a person who could forgive. It didn't matter how much the  extent of pain the people in her life could have inflicted her with. She would cry over it, but still pick herself up, telling me that it was HIS will that it happened. And move on. I have seen her forgive them completely, and even think of their welfare, on ways to help them at times. Oh Sara...

Thinking of it, I do not even have a photograph of her. Back then, not all phones came with cameras. And both of us did not have such high-tech phones. Nevertheless, I remember my friend vividly.

Sara wanted to learn how to make chappathis. Very much. She would repeatedly tell Mum to teach her. Mum is always open to sharing her recipes and told her she could teach anytime Sara was able to make time to learn. But that never happened too.

We lost contact after she moved out from my student's flat. After many years, I saw Sara at a bus-stop while I was son the bus. We recognised each other at once and waved. She looked different, and had put on some weight and had become a little darker. She had fairer complexion before.

And that was the last time I saw her. After my marriage, I have mentioned about this friend of mine to AZ several times. I would recount everything on this post and more that I shared with her.  There are moments we laughed together, and at a time or two, cried together. I used to often tell AZ I really wished to bump into her somewhere, sometime.

Just a few months back, I met the student who introduced Sara to me. They have since moved to a different neighbourhood, it seems. She is now all grown up now, and it took a while for me to recognise her, while was was quick to say hello.

After exchanging greetings and enquiring about our family members and how she was doing with her studies, I asked about Sara. In complete hope of hearing she was married, with lots of kids as she always wanted or at least, landed in a better job. I wanted to hear she was happy with her life.

But what I heard was something I wished I had never known. My student told me she passed away the year before. My heart sank. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilahi Rajioon.

At the time of passing, Sara was 29. She was battling with breast cancer, something that she discovered only at stage 4. Her treatments had made her put on weight and darkened her complexion, as  according to my student.

Even during her last few months, my student told me she had stayed with her family, and was always trying to be positive about herself. She wanted to be happy; my student's family kept her in good spirits, with her younger siblings attempting to make her laugh with their humour sense.

Unfortunately, my dear friend did not make it. She passed away back in her hometown. This news affected me in many ways. Sara was an aspiring young woman, who had many beautiful dreams. She never let her childhood, or lack of opportunities keep her spirits low. She was always chasing her dreams.

She had much less than me and many other girls of her age, and never complained and never liked anyone looking at her with pity. So much passion towards life, she had.

Every new day is a blessing from Allah (S.W.T) and everything that HE has given us is PLANNED by our Creator. SubhanAllah.

All of us should treasure every moment of ours in this Dunya, and invest those moments in preparing for Akhira.

Source: Internet

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