Tribute to Baraka Khan By:


Jun 27, 2016

Although I have visited this site a number of times since Baraka’s death, I never quite knew what to write. Baraka was taken suddenly, and so soon after many of us shared her joy on her wedding day.

I was in the year above Baraka at university, and because of this we did not see each other frequently while we were both there. When people graduate from university and are ejected into the wider world, it becomes easy to lose touch. However, I wanted to make a concerted effort to make sure Baraka and me maintained a connection – as you do with those who are special even though you may not see them often.

Shortly after Baraka graduated, we had a proper ‘date’ at the National Portrait Gallery. I remember it was her suggestion to go there – I would have opted for something prosaic like a cafe. It is perhaps why I remember it so well. I remember how we caught up on life, interjected with remarks at the sometimes bizarre offerings at the gallery. It was the perfect sort of afternoon. Neither of us had been tainted by the reality of a full-time job at that time, so our conversation about the future was idealistic, full of apprehension and hope. She told me of her plans to learn Arabic and to work abroad for a while.

Baraka was diagnosed with the cancer not too long after this meeting. Although she was unable to carry the plans mentioned, what she learnt of life, and what she gave to life, was far greater than perhaps most of us could ever achieve in our lifetimes. A dehabilitating illness can bring out one’s demons, but not for Baraka, who, though not without her insecurities, morphed into the best version of herself. Her faith was acutely deeper and stronger as time went on, and her spirit kind and generous. Even at her illest, I would receive emails and messages dictated by her devoted sister which were full of positivity and gratefulness.

Our last communication was shortly before Baraka’s passing – a text message of a light-hearted poem about a porcupine which she found humorous. I cannot think of a better testimony to Baraka’s graciousness in face of adversity, and the strength of her soul which never waned.