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Friday, January 10, 2014

WESTGATE: The Tale of a Survivor by Tashmin Kassam Khamis

Today is my Rozy Mumma's birthday.  She would have been 73.  She left us in October 2012 and she is missed.  Today, I am feeling thankful that I had a strong female role model like her in my life.  Her influence is evident in her children, my cousins, Tashi and Faisal.  Both are intelligent, hilarious, mischievous and compassionate, like their Mom.

Every year, on September 11th, we wish Faisal a happy birthday.  He escaped the horror of the World Trade Centre that day in 2001 and Rozy Mumma coined it his new birthday.  What are the odds that his sister would have to face a similar horror?  Tashi survived the September 2013 terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall.  Unfortunately, my father's cousin and her daughter did not.

Tashi has always used poetry to express some of her most private thoughts. Here is her recently published account of  surviving Westgate.

WESTGATE: The Tale of a Survivor
The shots firing a barrage of confusion in my mind
To run, a safe hiding place to find.
Hunted rabbits crouched upon a floor
Is there any point in locking a glass door?
A group dynamic begins to form
Of six strangers amid this crazy storm
No room to lie down, they’ll see our feet!
In the silence we hear our own heartbeat.
The shots non-stop ring in our head
Phones, a life-line or to ask ‘Who’s dead?’
We pray fervently, Muslim, Christian, Jew
His Hand upon us feels so True.
Alas, as time passes we lose our faith
Is help coming before we become bait?
They are in, KDF – the GSU!
The battle begins, who will get who?
The first scream is heard, a profanity
Calls himself ‘Muslim’ – how can that be?
“Allah hu Akbar”, we hear a cry
I plan my death whilst I’m still alive.
Five hours pass, more shots more shouts
Men running corridors, chaos about.
Finally, the dreaded knock on the door
Do we answer or hide some more?
As I approach a Somali face
Beckoning me out, Haji’s embrace
‘Put your head down and run’
A rabbit once more, we are not done!
For six weeks later, every loud sound
Makes me feel once more I have been found
The dreams of cousins who have passed
Of being hunted –they continue to last…
Will I ever be whole again?
My old self –a grieving pain.
To clutch that distant memory
Of whom I once used to be.
But then I draw upon a strength
Did I not feel the protection of His Hand?
A time to reflect of why I live
And realize what more I need to give.

Tashmin Kassam Khamis, A Westgate Survivor amongst many.

Throwback pic of Tashi and Rozy Mumma.

On my Mumma's birthday, I am especially thankful for Tashi's safety, the bonds of family and Mumma's love. It remains even though she is gone.


Tima said...

I didn't realise you knew someone there. It's a lovely poem, and am so thankful she's ok.

Anonymous said...

How come I missed this.What a beautiful Poem.Rozy mama was a very special person in every one's lives.I miss her loads.

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