A Tribute To Dr. Roshan Thomas: From The Hurt Comes Inspiration

It’s 6:47 am and I have been up since the baby’s 5 am feed. As the early morning light pushes through the fog, finally, the tears are flowing. I have crept downstairs wrapped in a sweater and heartache, and am honouring the people who lost their lives in the Serena Hotel in Kabul on Navroz.

I knew Dr. Roshan Thomas and her family as a young girl growing up in the same jamatkhana (Ismaili house of congregational worship). And I had known bits and pieces of the work she and her husband have done in Pakistan and Afghanistan as eye doctors. In the last 48 hours I have come to learn more about the depths of their work and passion for bettering the lives of the Afghan community – a community that is living on a shred of hope after nearly 3 decades of turmoil. Please read here for details about Dr. Thomas and Sparks Academy. It will give you a glimpse into a life of someone who acted on her convictions while raising three respectable children.

With the news of Dr. Thomas’ passing came the news of the other casualties: Zeenab Kassam of Calgary who was serving as a nurse for the past year and a half in Kabul; a journalist, his wife and their two young children. The four gunmen who managed to slip through Serena security and open fire in a packed restaurant also were killed. They are called gunmen because of their actions; I am realizing as I glance at the dewy fog outside my window, these gunmen were boys. Therein lies the despair of a country. Boys who are recruited because of a lack of education by people who are blinded by a rage that stems from another lack…and so on the ripples flow. Dr. Thomas was working hard to stop this tragic cycle by providing culturally-sensitive early childhood education; she believed that children should be allowed to be children. And during that Navroz celebration when those boys opened fire and killed two innocent children, childhood was robbed from both sides.

From the hurt, anger, and sadness there must come inspiration. There will always be a pang in my chest when I think of Dr. Thomas and her family; there should be something else too if I am to honour someone who serves as a role model for Canadian Ismaili women – all of humanity, for that matter.

I cannot promise to be selfless every day. I cannot promise I won’t have days when I feel burdened by earthly work. But I can take each day as it comes and ask myself, what am I doing today that will contribute to my legacy? And, equally important, how am I involving my family in creating this legacy so that we may share it and be bound by it?

When looking to the future, my husband and I dream of projects that we can initiate or in which we can be involved at some level. One day, we say, we will volunteer together, show our children what’s truly important. Another glance out the window brings an awareness: the clock keeps ticking. It is now completely daylight. In the 45 minutes that I have been sitting here, kept company by the hum of the baby monitor, the earth has rotated slightly. Time isn’t waiting for me to start living my convictions.

My heart and prayers go out to everyone affected by the loss of their loved ones, and my deep gratitude and respect to Dr. Roshan Thomas for what she has done, and for what her legacy will continue to do, for the global community. Navroz has a new meaning now as I will always remember the extra nudge I received this year to turn hurt into hope and act today.





11 thoughts on “A Tribute To Dr. Roshan Thomas: From The Hurt Comes Inspiration

  1. Beautifully written Taslim. I didn’t know about Dr Thomas or her work before this tragedy occurred, but reading your words I’m sitting here sharing your sorrow and tears. Thank you for reminding me that I too need to begin to act and do today, not just think about and plan to ‘do something’ in the future.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Raj. My hope is that everyone touched by her, directly or indirectly, will do the same.

  2. Thanks Taslim for sharing your grief for Dr. Thomas and Ms. Kassam. We knew both and both were inspirations and touched many lives. They were beacons of light in a hopeless place. I only hope that their legacies live on and others take their place and continue the wonderful work that they were doing. I share your grief and pain.


    1. Thank you for reading and sharing with me as well, Tazim. Every time we speak of their work, and do what we can to contribute to the betterment of our communities, their legacies live on. My condolences to you for these losses.

    1. Thank you and amen, Sayed. I was not able to read the Arabic but an aunt translated for me; your prayers for the deceased echo mine.

  3. Taslim,
    How beautifully you have expressed the sorrow of the loss of childhood innocence and paid such tribute to Roshan Thomas who was trying to bring hope to the children of Afganistan.
    Taslim, you sound young – I am a grandmother – have 2 girls and 2 grandsons and I agree all the children need our help to bring back hope and innocence. Keep up the wonderful work you are doing with your pen and hope individually and collectively we can make this a better world. You have also given me a new meaning to Navroz, Thank you,

    1. Thank you, Dilshad. Your encouraging words are much appreciated; your grandchildren are lucky to have you praying for a better world for them. I will always believe that people are inherently good and have the ability to contribute positively to their communities, given hope and love. My kids are 6, 4 and 3 months, and I write as part of my legacy for them.

  4. Very well written. May her soul rest in eternal peace.i don’t know when this all will stop. She is truly a martyr who sacrificed her life for a great cause. Those 4 illetrate gumen must have been promised the heaven in return of this coward attack by their ignorant masters, but those blank minded people didn’t know that they are gonna be the addition to the hell. Roshan Thomas is always alive as martyr never dies.

    1. Thank you, Imran, for reading and commenting. I can understand your anger and agree that Dr. Thomas’s spirit will never die. I pray for the peace of the departed, as well as those left behind who must live in a world where, sadly, this happens.

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