MASTERING YOUR ANGER
Love is a feeling that most of us yearn for. Saeeda Jacobs tells us about finding a precious gem, losing it too soon and regaining her path to serenity.
16-year-old Saeeda was born and bred in Bonteheuwel Cape Town. For most of her early childhood she lived with her parents but recalls moving around a lot, and living in different places with many family members.
“I’m not sure why we moved around because both my parents were working. When I started school, we were living with my mom’s sister in Delft and I had to travel far to school in Bonteheuwel. My grandmother stayed close to the school so I asked my parents if I could live with her permanently.”
“The house was full, along with my great-grandmother and grandmother, and my uncle, his wife and my cousin were living there. Even though it was crowded, it felt like home and I was loved.”
Saeeda was away from her parents, but she would still see them often when they would visit and take her out. A year later, Saeeda’s parents moved into her grandmother’s house making the house even fuller, but leaving Saeeda feeling happy to have them close.
Like many young people her age, Saeeda began socialising a lot on digital platforms.
“I grew up in the times of social media – it wasn’t BBM or Whatsapp, it was the Mxit* days. At the beginning of Grade Seven, I was 12 and one of my friends from school gave my Mxit contact to a boy from the neighbourhood.”
“I didn’t know the guy, but accepting invites from people you don’t really know was a normal thing during that time, so I accepted it. We began chatting as friends and never arranged to meet in person. We talked to each other often and for a long time I didn’t know he lived so close to me.”
“Over a weekend, I was sitting outside my house when two boys approached me and pointed to a boy in the distance who sent them to call me. I was questioning why was he calling me; I did not know him. When they said his name was Taariq, it all clicked because my Mxit friend’s name was the same. I told them if he wanted to see me then he should come himself. Soon after, Taariq and his friends came over and we started chatting like an old group of friends.”
Saeeda enjoyed Taariq’s personality from the first moment as a friend, he was three years older than her (15) and a kind boy. They began chatting more on Mxit and he fell in love with her.
“One day he asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend on MXIT. At first I was unsure because we had only known each other for a while, but his interest made me feel special.”
Saeeda and Taariq began dating mostly online and eventually they started to see each other often on weekends.
While getting to know him better she realized that she had met him years ago when they attended Madrasah* together. He had a childhood crush on her; she did not even notice him.
Taariq was staying with his parents and seven other siblings; he was the second youngest and his other siblings were either married or still at school.
“He was very precious and compassionate, such a nice person to chat to and of course he was handsome too. He wanted me to meet his parents, but at the time I was shy because we had only been dating for a couple of weeks so I thought it was too early.”
“My family knew about the relationship because I had introduced him to my mother. After some time I met his sisters. One day I was walking in the road and his mother, a housewife, was standing with his sister outside their house and she called me and asked if I was her son’s girlfriend. I said no because I felt too shy to tell her the truth, but she said that I must be honest, because she knows the truth.”
After a while, Saeeda started to visit his home a lot and spent time with his sisters. As time went by they shared lots of memories and felt serious about one another. Everyone knew about them, that they were a dedicated couple. Everything stayed the same, the relationship was getting stronger and they were getting closer.
“At some point things in his life and our relationship got a bit hectic. He dropped out of school – I am not sure why – and he decided just to stay at home. I would go to his house but the way he acted felt different. He started hanging around with the wrong people. Everyone knew the guys he was mixing with and that they were troublemakers. I used to ask him what was going on; we were very open and we used to share a lot. He told me that he had joined a gang.”
“I fought with and challenged him because the kind person I knew would never fit into a gang. I could not understand what made him choose this lifestyle. We broke up several times, but got back together because we loved each other. After some time, I decided to stick with him through thick and thin. I noticed that everyone was so shocked about his new choices that they distanced themselves from him. I wanted him to know he could depend on me.”
“About a year and a half later, I noticed that he was not so active with the gang anymore. He was at home more often, not bothering anybody, and no longer out late. He was calmer and everyone could see that something was different. He then told me that he had realized that being in a gang wasn’t worth it. He wanted to leave the gang but was scared because it is common knowledge that no one leaves.”
“We were relieved that no one from the gang bothered him, it seemed like they had forgotten him.”
For Saeeda, it felt like everything in their lives was back on track and she had recovered her sweetheart.
“A year later, we were celebrating four years together. I was doing well at school, he was looking for his first job and we were happy. His sister sent me a message. I was at my house when I opened my phone, and the message just read: “He has been shot.” I panicked and started to shiver because I did not know if he was okay.”
Remembering the day, Saeeda’s face turns downwards and her tears stream down her cheeks. She says that when she talks about the moment she saw him on the ground she feels as though she is back at that spot.
“My uncle brought me to him. I got out of the car and there were a lot of people standing around, including the police. I saw Taariq lying on the road in front of his house. I went to his family and stood by his mom. Everyone was shocked, we were all just staring at his lifeless body.”
“I cannot even begin to describe how I felt at that time. I slept at his house and the following day was his Janaza*. I was not strong at all, everything about the situation made me feel devastated. To explain how I was feeling is impossible; I could not comprehend why this had happened. At his Janaza I saw his face for the last time and I cried, cried and cried.”
Saeeda still visits Taariq’s home to provide moral support and to feel comfort.
“There has been a lot of loss in the neighbourhood; a month before my boyfriend died, his best friend was also shot and murdered. Everyone in the community feels angry about the loss of so many young people. Even though I am still sad about what happened, Taariq’s family have been a big support. I miss him terribly and it is a feeling I do not want anyone to ever experience.”
Saeeda concludes by saying, “Although everyone around me feels angry, I know that there is no use in hanging on to that anger. Anger is one of the stages after trauma, but dwelling too long on it will not change the past and will negatively affect your present. Be at peace with your anger, accept it but do not let it consume you. I choose to master my anger therefore mastering my life.”
Saeeda is a Leaders’ Quest Participant
Janaza* Muslim burial
Madrasah *Islamic School