It was 1 am. As I walked off stage, in Chegutu, my phone rang. I cut the call as there was too much commotion trying to get me backstage. 6 missed calls. In 30 minutes. From different numbers.
Tari called back “I’m so sorry Ammara. She’s gone.” ” Who’s gone?” I
needed her to say it. “Shahla is gone love.” …
As I lost all strength to stand screaming into a state of hysteria my manager just held me…
Alas I landed up crying on the floor and went into a state of shock that took me days to come out of… The truth is hitting me daily.
Born the fairest of us all, on the 23rd of April ’91, with beautiful blonde hair and grey eyes. I was almost 3 years old and asked our mom
“Why is she so white and we’re so brown?” Mom said “Because her
and your dad weren’t cooked in Gods oven properly so make sure you keep her in the sun. Ok mummy. I’ll take care of her.” And so I did. My parents divorced in a few months and we were left in the care of Nina, my grandmother.
We were 2 peas in a pod and as nature would have it, we grew up to be polar opposites. Shahla was the sports guru, winning awards as a sprinter in school, even with her weak chest. She played a mean game of pool table and a huge Manchester United fan. She was what we called “a natural boxer”. When Shahla was 12 she called me while I was on tour with our dad.
“Please walk away from everyone? I have to tell you something .” she
said. “Is everything ok Lala?”, I said. “Well there were some
girls talking kaak about you in the hairdresser bathroom yesterday, when walked in. So I gave the main one ‘the basin treatment’ so she’ll think twice next time.”
No one was allowed to hurt me but her. Shahla was extremely protective. When you sat down with her there isn’t a time you didn’t leave laughing uncontrollably. Everyone loved to have her around. A true definition of “the life of the party”. A very commanding presence with a warm aura about her.
Shahla was a lover of all things classic, old school music galore, and knew our fathers opus even more extensively than I did. We found
common ground in the love of music and food. We could shut down a dance floor together in minutes. In fact she was my one of my dancers when we lived in Joburg. And long after, I loved to Jazz with her, cuz she led so well.
In the kitchen I rolled the Roti and she fried. She had a heavy hand so her food would always leave you feeling at home. 🙂 …
We lived together all our lives so when I moved back to Zimbabwe she followed eventually. I had just given birth to Khameel and she said
“Thank goodness! I was feeling your labour pains brah! I had to leave work early that day. Ahh!” What didn’t we share?…
As we buried our family members one by one we handled our
grief differently. Nina passed away but Shahla and I had each other and my son. Our love made it a home.
18 months ago Shahla’s chest began to fail her. We frequented the hospitals and Drs offices more times than I’d like to count. So much so that visiting hours barely applied to me. Sometimes I would wake up to
check if she was still breathing. If she was in hospital, every phone call I
got in the night scared me. She couldn’t come to the Bring Chiedza Home concert because she was too weak. Somehow she always pulled through. Even the Drs could not understand it.
As we held hands I watched her fight for her life for as long as she could, and she kept us laughing until she knew she wouldn’t make it. You see, Shahla was born with ” a vail”. She could see the dead as clear as we see the living. My parents began to visit her more frequently in the past few months. When I look back on it now, it’s clear that she didn’t know how to tell me. Instead she showed me, by actively forgiving everyone who
had ever hurt her, and making peace with the people she fought with.
Spending more time with my son, our little brothers and making us sit around the table after she cooked.. She called me “mom” more frequently than usual. A few weeks ago I spent the whole day with her in hospital and I kissed her on her forehead. She explained “You have such a warm touch, like mummy.”
And she smiled… That million dollar smile.
With every funeral the essence of the deceased always takes hold and I have laughed these passed few days even with my shattered heart.
When I went to the cemetery I could feel her spirit and it resonated true
happiness and pure peace. I have grieved enough to know that it’s my physical loss because I cannot hold her but it’s Shahla’s spiritual triumph because she’s with Allah, our beloved Nina, our idoliSed father, Andy, our love incarnate mother, Soraya, our sister Chiedza and yes, Chiwoniso. Death isn’t even the true definition because it is in faithful fact; transcendence.
Shahla means desert flower and that is exactly how I will remember you Lala. You were perfect imperfection because your heart was always
gorgeous. Its your turn to watch over me, and I am not afraid of transcendence anymore because I know I’ll be seeing you in Janat someday. I love you Lala B.. I love you…always