Her absence is unfathomable and I just cannot believe she is gone. She was not just my Khala, but my mentor, my guide, my first point of reference, my teacher, my colleague, my partner, my co-author, my trainer, my critic, my inspiration, well wisher — my everything!
A large part of who I am is because of her and who she was. She wanted me to carry on her struggle and those words left a lasting impact on my childhood as I read the dedication she made in her book ‘knowledge and identity’ for us (my cousin Natasha and myself).
I know — impossible shoes to fill, but I would never want to let her down. She not only showed me the way but held my hands and led the way like a guiding light, like stars shining bright at night for sailors to navigate rough seas.
Her words came back to me when we finally started working and writing together, particularly on gender, education and curriculum. Together we made a great team. Working on these issues felt like her desire for us to carry on the struggle had come full circle.
That by no way means that my work is done. I know I have a long way to go, I know there is still so much that I have to learn, but to have had the opportunity to reach a point in both our lives when I could co-work with her is among my greatest personal achievements.
Her loss is huge, but her legacy is even bigger. She lived fully and didn’t just exist. She lived, on her own terms but in service to others. Rubina Saigol would be known for her generosity, her fun-loving nature, her creative talent for on the spot fiery political poetry and satire, her clarity and her fluid and accessible writing style, her activism, her critical thinking, her brilliant mind and pure soul, her free spiritedness, her humour, her simplicity, her heart of gold and the many smiles she brought on people’s faces and her contributions to their lives.
She was the life of every occasion, every party, every gathering. We loved her dearly. For me, she was a mother figure and her demise has left a void that cannot be filled. I hope she is proud of me. I hope I am able to live up to her expectations of me and I hope I can go on.
I don’t know how else to honour and celebrate her magnanimous life other than keeping her spirit and legacy alive and to continue to mimic the bravery and courage reflected in her writing. She not only spoke truth to power, but did so with intense compassion — a rare combination.
She lives through the work and impact she has left behind, only her body is at rest. May she rest in peace.