Why is there a lump in my throat?
Why do I feel as if I have lost my mother, or my father again, a sibling or a dear friend? The feeling overcoming me since I heard of her death and started reading about her are very similar to those when my own father passed away.
I didn’t even know Layla!
Yet I find myself sad and despondent.
I find that at a time when my country has been thrown to the wolves, God decides to take the very people who have fought tooth and nail to save it.
At a time when so called â€œrepresentatives of the peopleâ€ have sold their conscience, honour and dignity for a handful of dinars, I read that Layla eschewed the surrounds of available wealth to raise the cloak of illiteracy from desperate people.
At a time when the country throws open its door to foreign mercenaries, I learnt that Layla picked up a weapon and went to fight in another Arab land against a foreign oppressor.
At a time when an important arm of our government diligently works to expel the majority of its own people from its institutions and side-lining them based on their religious affiliation, I heard that Layla has never allowed others’ personal beliefs or race to stand in the way of her extended hands of help and friendship.
At a time when the bastardisation of our democracy continues apace and the elected representatives applaud the further restrictions to our freedoms, I read that Layla has opened doors to thousands of our own citizens as well as our Omani brothers and sisters to reach for the sky.
At a time when we trade our ideals for our own selfish comforts, I learnt that Layla has lived the majority of her life in exile fighting for and defending hers.
At a time when our national university is more concerned with its students’ dress code and mannerisms rather than their educational development and giving them the necessary tools to think critically, I read that Layla virtually established the modern educational system in Oman in the 60s.
At a time when our society were more concerned with limiting the role of women, I learnt that Layla established the first women’s society in 1968 and led them to demand and get their rights.
At a time when the ranks of our unemployed and poor are increasing in the midst of untold oil wealth, I read that while Layla was an exile she donated whatever she got from her family in funds and clothes to help those less fortunate.
At a time when illness was slowly eating her away, Layla re-established Bahraini women’s institutions and led them to excel.
And then it came to me:
We were living in the shadow of a giant; and that comforting shade is no longer there.
We were living in the aura of a legend; but we have not yet satiated our thirst from her spirit.
We were living in the surrounds of a hero; yet only her comrades knew her true value.
How can we repay an eternal debt of gratitudes to these legends?
Would naming streets after them suffice? Erect statues in squares? Write books? A series of articles? Build libraries and halls in their honour?
All of these are good, but are never enough.
What Layla Fakhro and her likes struggled to give us is much more than we can ever repay them for; they gave us our dignity back, and recognised each and every one of us as worthy human beings, equal in rights and duties.
How can we ever repay that?
Layla Fakhro, Huda Salem, mama Huda, rest in peace now.
Your lungs have not given up on you as much as your own country has.
I love you Layla. And I’m sorry for not having the pleasure of ever meeting you and kissing your hand.
You will not be forgotten.
You are the doyen of the pantheon of legends.