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.