Being Mrs. Kubra, Me, Me, Me

To all the children I hold close to my heart…

Ten months before I upped and moved to Qatar, I lost my first child in a miscarriage.

After 4 years and 500 failed attempts at writing this without sounding cliché or cringe, here I am on my 31st birthday, ready to embrace the cringe. This has been a long time coming.

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We’re living through testing times, to say the least. COVID-19 is like a manhoos desi aunty pumping up your mum, before you know it you’re grounded for the rest of your life.

And it is easy to get wrapped up in the chaos and uncertainty of it all. Some days, I too find myself in the eye of the storm and wonder how on earth I got there. But for the most part, I’m coping well. Having faith in a higher being keeps me grounded, so does that fact that I have years and years of practice with shitty experiences – as you’re about to find out.

This pandemic feels familiar, second nature even, in a way that only those who have grown up in trauma will understand.

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If you had asked me when I was six years old, ‘What is the biggest trial Allah (swt) has tested you with?’ I would have told you: seeing my parents fight all the time, being too afraid to sleep at night, knowing that when the shouting stops – that’s when she’s in trouble, knowing it was on me to save her if that happened, seeing my bruised mother crying and not being able to do anything to protect her.

If you had asked me when I was a teen, I would have said: growing up fatherless. It’s this ever-growing wound in the very fabric of your rooh (soul) which no amount of love or joy can fill. It breaks you in ways that show up much, much later in your adult life and damages every relationship you have. And I grieved 25 years too long until finally accepting it as an irreversible part of me.

At 23, I would have told you: having a lifetime’s hard work amount to nothing as I resigned heartbroken from my first teaching post. Losing faith in teaching and never wanting to return to the profession (at such an early stage in my career) became a ledge above a pit of suicidal despair. The knock-on effect it had on my personal life was devastating.

But none of that compares to losing your child. Your first taste of motherhood snatched out of your desperate fate.

And it was a double whammy for me; I didn’t have my mother around to comfort me. In both the physical agony and the emotional pain, previous trials became insignificant as I felt there had never been a time where I was more alone and lost than now. Isn’t this just the beauty of dunya? There will definitely be another time, somewhere later in life that will top this experience. If nothing else, it will be death itself.

It took this long to gain enough distance from it, to change perspective, and to really ponder on the concept that Allah doesn’t burden a soul more than he/she can bear. Losing a child is hard and talking about it becomes much harder when surrounded by a toxic community sentencing you with stigmas: fatherless daughter, shunned, miscarried

Everyone becomes a self-certified expert in announcing the Will of Allah, passing off their judgements like it’s law: ‘Must be a punishment from Allah. Deserves it.’

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I always write how life in the UK was harrowing and so many readers ask me why I hate the UK.

I don’t hate the UK.

I fully recognise myself as a British-Kashmiri, and I know it is the country of my birth that has contributed to me being an educated woman with privileges denied to others around the world. May Allah grant my grandfather the coolest, most tranquil station in Jannah for what I can only imagine was a life of gruelling slog as a migrant worker in 1960s England. As an expat myself, I think about him every day. His sacrifices are paying off for me, generations later and there is no way I can thank him other than dua…

But what I do feel is: my life in the UK was miserable, and from such a young age I was surrounded by completely heartless people. It is often hard to disassociate the experiences and people from the geographical place.

Although I’m sure with time, this will change.

‘What is the biggest trial Allah (swt) has tested you with?’

Ask me this question now and I will tell you none of it was difficult. Every trial pulled me closer to Allah; helped me understand and identify myself as an INFJ, taught me valuable lessons and more than anything – drove me harder to be someone else’s harbour during their storm. My love for teaching came back stronger than ever and I promised myself I’d be the beacon of hope for my students, just like my teachers had been for me…

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So Qatar became the place that healed me. The friends I’ve made out here are diamonds. And the schools I’ve been lucky enough to work in have resulted in the 4 most rewarding years of my career.

But there’s one other huge contributing factor in my recovery. If it wasn’t for COVID-19 and online teaching, I probably wouldn’t have realised the role played by my students.

As I near my 10-year teaching anniversary, I realise although I lost my child and it was agony, in place of that Allah gave me so many more wonderful children. He made a mother out of me in the most unconventional way.

So, thank you

To all the students who have turned up to my lessons with beaming smiles, a ‘good morning’, a ‘how are you today, miss?’, the ones who work hard and the ones who don’t, the sensible ones and the cheeky little monkeys….

To the boys who decided they were going to plan my wedding and tried to match-make me with their single uncles (unsuccessfully)

The boys who used my lotions and perfumes more than I did! The ones who’d measure their height against mine each year and then tell me ‘You must be shrinking, oldie.’

The ones who’d ask me ‘When is your husband free to join me for dinner?’, the ones who would advise me to buy every new phone on the market (because I’m a millionaire!) and the ones who wanted to turn 18 so they could finally drive, and race me to school

The boys who would name every female character in their drama role plays ‘Zoya’ and the ones who laughed so hard, they fell off their chairs

The ones who’d hang around after the lesson ended, do odd jobs for me, and try to guilt-trip me to hand out the chocolate stash in my desk

The ones who’d see me speeding down the corridor, and deliberately started walking 10x slower (yes, I’m talking about you three giants in the labcoats lol)

The boys who tried (and failed) at roasting me, the boys who believed they could persuade me to become an anime fan which then turned into a year-long joke

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The disrespect is real…hahaha

And to the girls who: wrote little notes and hand-made cards as tokens of their appreciation

The ones who took an interest in everything about me, from the shampoo I used (‘Omg, Miss I knew it was Herbal Essences!’) to what I’ll be naming my first child (‘Can you hurry up and get pregnant? I want to meet your kids!’)

To the girls who fought with me over the A.C. temperature, called me ‘mum’ by accident, the girls who’d laugh at all my jokes until they ended up in a fit of hysteria

To the ones who turned up to my class with a folk instead of a pen, and the ones who turned up to detention covered in egg and flour – the ones who made it so hard for me not to laugh

To the ones who showed me their poetry and prose at break time, and baked cookies for me, and left soup on my desk when I fell sick

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Spoilt rotten

To the ones who run up to me in public places, and say ‘Miss, do you remember me?’, or run up to me to poke the dimples in my cheeks (haha)

To the ones I stick my tongue out at across malls and they mime ‘Are you okay in the head, Miss?’ and the ones I (always!) bump into outside McDonalds and Shake Shack at Villagio

The ones who scream ‘MISS ZOYAAAAAAGH!’ from across the way, and make my husband say ‘Oh no, here we go again. I’ll wait over here.’

To the ones who say ‘You deserve so much more, Miss’ and ‘Miss if you need anything, ANYTHING, I am here.’

The ones who have grown up SO fast, they’ve gone from calling me Miss to calling me Baji or straight up Zoya, and are now graduates, teachers, nurses… inspirational young professionals

The ones who participated in all things English related – spelling bees, poetry slams, competitions, afterschool clubs…the ones who made my job so rewarding, made me feel so proud

And to the ones who gift me plants every summer not knowing…

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To each and every one of you:

Know that, from the bottom of my heart, I love you so much for the joy and laughter you bought into my life.

Know that words cannot express how our little daily interactions healed me.

Know that I pray for you countless times a day, for your success, your health, your wellbeing in both worlds.

Know that no matter what, you can always count on me.

In an ever-growing, frightening COVID-19 world, you are not alone…

You are amazing. And so incredibly brave for putting up with this situation. You will be the change society desperately needs and I have complete faith in you, that YOU will come out of this crisis stronger, happier, sparklier and better than before.

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32 thoughts on “To all the children I hold close to my heart…”

  1. It’s been a while since I commented on your posts, but this brought tears to my eyes 😭. The other day, I was lucky enough to have been reunited with my favourite teacher from when I studied in Qatar (on insta, of all places) and I was able to properly thank her after all these years! Some teachers can truly make a difference in you, and they always remain in your hearts 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww! That’s heartwarming – love it when you meet old teachers, no matter how many years have passed you still feel tiny and naive in front of them hehehe. Subhan Allah, may Allah reward all our teachers who have had such a big part to play jn our upbringing. Ameen. Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is soooooo sweeeeet! no exaggeration: You’re the best teacher ever, I envy the ones, that are going to be forced to be taught by you- receive a lecture for being 2 minutes late, in the future… 😦
    stay safe Ms. You’ll always have a place in my heart and memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. Subhan’Allah, I can’t even begin to imagine how tough this must have been to write. Thank you for writing it though, because, as always, you remind your readers to come outside of their bubbles (okay, maybe just this reader). May Allah (swt) continue to give you strength. Masha’Allah, I’m glad you were able to make the transition back to teaching… and yeah, I can understand how much space/locations changes things. I used to feel this way about America, when I first moved… I mean, I still do, but I’ve been in America for most of my life, so my longing to return to my native land of Canada is not as strong. Anyways, teachers are amazing. I only wish I could be as awesome as you, dear! ❤

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    1. Rafia 💜💜… writing this yesterday came so naturally. I penned it in a matter of hours & you wouldn’t think it took me 4 years to find the words lolol! I’m usually hesitant to reveal personal details because I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m milking a sob story, and also because it is hard to talk about things you’ve bottled up for so long…but with this, I felt like it would be a useful reminder for myself first and then others, to see the bigger picture and remember that Allah makes everything ok. We figure it out later in life, hindsight is 20/20, but Allah knows right then in the moment of hardship that it is best for you. Alhamdullilah. Physical space definitely helps in gaining clarity. It’s so good to hear from you (I know we’re all busy in our messy lives) but I pray you are getting on okay 💜 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Masha’Allah, sometimes distance is what we need to see the wisdom behind everything. Just yesterday I was feeling the same with a personal issue (that I’ve not addressed in my blog) and well, I feel better about it. I wish I could blog about it, but I too like to keep things that are truly personal off the interwebz. Like I’ve said before, nazr is real. It was so nice to read from you. I hope you’ve been having a good Ramadan so far! I feel like I know you IRL, I wish I did, but Alhamdulillah for online friends as well 🙂 May Allah (swt) grant you sakinah in these last 10 days and beyond. That’s my latest dua… sakinah.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ameen and great minds think alike, that word has started popping up in my duas too. Nazar is definitely real as is hasd, and I believe when something is raw and too painful to write then it’s best to work through that privately without sharing it on the interwebz as you put it lol. It might become fuel for something you write later but first you need to process it. My husband, whenever he tells me something important always follows with, “Let me know when you’ve finished processing it so we can talk again.” Haha INFj problems! May Allah help you with the issue you’re dealing with, May he grant you clarity of mind to understand the wisdom behind it Ameen xxx

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      3. Oh yes, for sure. Nazr and hasad go hand in hand for me. Haha, yes, the interwebz. I see some bloggers who pour their life out on their website and sometimes, I’m like, “Could/should I do this?” But I’m glad I don’t. Sometimes I wonder, even with my guarded-ness, whether I’m putting myself out there a bit too much by just blogging about my life? What’s your husband’s MBTI? Is he an ENFP like mine? I think we’re still working out the grooves of our different communication styles. Thank you, Zoya! Ameen.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hehe I have no idea what he is. I forced him to do the quiz last year but obviously I didn’t care enough to remember what he got lmao! All I remember is he was one of the extroverted personalities and the description fit him perfectly. I’m thinking of making him do the quiz again but he’s probably sick of me and my quizzes (I have the love languages one lined up for him too lolol!) Xx

        Liked by 1 person

      5. LOL, reminds me of all the times I’ve taken the Enneagram test and forgotten my number. I remember Mr. Rafia told me take the Love Language test. I don’t know my type for that either :/ I think it might be verbal affirmations?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Before I say anything I want to wish you a late happy birthday and a thank you for being the best teacher and a role model of course. You have inspired me to write and never gave up on me so I thank you for that. Also, I thank you so much for being there for me when I was struggling with all the university stress. This post made me feel so emotional and it honestly was the highlight of my day💖!

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  5. This made me miss you a great deal. You had a major impact on me during my short tenure in PSI and Doha, it made it hard for me to let go when I left. You helped me grow… academically, in my (stagnant) writing journey, and in regards to myself. Thank you for indulging me while I was your student and once I wasn’t anymore. May Allah bless you, Ms Zoya.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ameen and thank you for your lovely words. I’m just so proud of where you are now – it’s been a long and difficult journey, but you smashed it 💜. Take care xx

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  6. Those very hard, emotional trials from a tender age, yet you have endured and achieved. Zoya, at 31 yrs young (what a good age to be), many fine possibilities still await you. Bruce

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Bruce. I really appreciate it. Our trials and hardships make us who we are, and you are right – there are many more beautiful opportunities waiting in life. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This brought tears to my eyes! Its so beautiful and sincere. I love you my dearest Miss Zoya and I’m very lucky to have been one of your students. Thank you for everything you have done for me in the 2 years you taught me; you may not know how much of an impact you had on me. You’re one person whom I would never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hala, thank you for your lovely comment. It means so much to me. I was simply doing my job but your lovely words and daily interactions with me healed all my sadness. We had some beautiful times together; all our times together were full of laughter and craziness. It is my dua that Allah grant you every success in this life and the next. Ameen 💜💜

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is soooo heartwarming, especially as one of your former students who is a graduate now and you being one of my favorite teachers of all time. You have had a big impact on my direction in life and what I want to do in the future, not to mention my journey with the English language, reading books, and writing poetry. True the direction of my education and my interests kept shifting, but it would have never been the same without you.

    Reading your story, I think you deserve all the happiness in the world and I pray that Allah continues to shower you with blessings and compromises for all the things you’ve lost. I also pray that you continue to see life’s setbacks with such an optimistic approach and to see things for what they truly are and what they have contributed to the person you have become and the places you have been.

    Thank you for being such an amazing teacher and a human all over. ❤️

    Love,
    Mariam Ibrahim Abdellatif

    P.S: I’m an INFJ too !!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for this lovely comment Mariam, I’m so happy to hear you’re a graduate now (gosh, times flies! I feel old now hehe). Ameen to your lovely words – keep me in your duas. I knew you were an INFJ all along hehe; it was your beautiful, deep stories and written work that made me think this. Lots of prayers and hugs, take care 💜💜 xx

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  9. This is so beautiful Ms Zoya.. thank you so much for sharing it and for being such an inspiring, honest and amazing person. We are all so lucky to have been a part of your journey (even if it’s a small part) and people who haven’t had you as your teacher are missing out!! You’ve had a lasting impact on almost every student you ever taught and that’s not something many teachers are capable of the way you did lol! You’ll always remain special to us😊❤️ May Allah always bless you with peace, happiness and success – in this life and the next.
    Oh and btw I’m also an INFJ hehe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank YOU Mariam for the comment. And you’re an INFJ too? No wonder we clicked so much!! Haha, I feel like I’ve left behind a trail of INFJs at AA lol. Ameen to your duas. May Allah protect you always and give you every happiness in both realms. You deserve all the good in the world. Xxx

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