Durban: Some Muslims are preparing to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with their families on Monday. Others are putting back the pieces of their lives.
Shaida Latiff, 49, of Shastri Park, Phoenix, said during the fasting month of Ramadaan her family bought and prepared savouries for Eid, which they had kept frozen. But her home was flooded and all her electrical appliances, including the deep freezer, were damaged.
She lives with her brother, Mohammed Junaid Latiff, and sister-in-law, Taahira Latiff. The family have since moved to temporary accommodation in Newlands West.
“Just a few days before the rain, we did all of our food shopping. We bought savouries like pizza, samoosas, pies, springrolls and other items to cook on Eid, but it was ruined. The freezer capsized when the water gushed into our home.
"My sister-in-law also intended on baking sweet treats. Even those items washed away. Fortunately, I managed to take only my late mother’s Qur’an and a few of the Surah Yaseen booklets. But all our important documents were destroyed.”
She said her mother died in December, and Thursday would have been her 71st birthday.
“We invited several relatives for iftar (meal eaten after sunset during Ramadaan) that day and for a prayer. We just got the booklets for the day.”
Latiff, who is unemployed, said after their evening prayers on April 11, water seeped into their home.
“My sister-in-law was making a milk tart for her late dad’s prayer at my sister’s home. My brother was in the lounge and I was in my bedroom. We heard her scream. She said water was coming into the house from under the kitchen door.
“I ran out of my room just as my brother opened the lounge door to check outside. Muddy water gushed in. Within no time the water had reached our waists. There was no time to waste. I grabbed my mother’s Qu'ran and and we walked barefoot and slowly out of the house.
“Taahira and I stood at the top of the road for more than three hours, while Mohammed and our neighbour broke our back wall with a hammer so that the water could flow out of the yard.”
Latiff and Taahira sought refuge at a neighbour’s home and when the rain eased, they returned to their home.
“There was no electricity so we battled to see. We tried to sweep the water out but nothing worked. My car, which was parked in the yard, was submerged in water and had been written off. At first light, we had water before we started our fast. We have not even been able to have a proper meal since that day. When we see our home, we don’t have much of an appetite.”
She said prior to the Covid-19 lockdowns, relatives visited their home to celebrate Eid.
"My mother was the elder and everyone visited to spend time with her. We cooked the best meals. My mother’s favourite was prawns and fish breyani. I even bought the prawns and fish to prepare for Eid. Instead, we had to get six guys to pick up the muddied deep freezer where the food was stored.
“This Eid, we cannot uphold our traditions at our home because we are still cleaning up. We are just devastated.”
Shireen Wilkins, 58, of Greenbury, in Phoenix, said her family are also repairing the damages at their home.
She lives with her 78-year-old mother, brother, his wife and their three children. Wilkins is a retired chef but does catering part-time. She said they generally spent about R1 200 on food that they prepared on Eid, but not this year.
“Instead, we ended up fixing the windows, doors, floors and roof. We still have so much to do. With no solid income, it is difficult.”
She said most of their relatives also celebrated Eid at their home.
"My mother cooks on the day. It is special to her as it was tradition from the time she and my late father were married. But even if we wanted to prepare anything this year, we can’t, because the electricity trips and we are using a gas stove.”
Wilkins said last Monday, the family got up when they heard her two nieces scream. Their bedroom is on the ground floor.
“The water had forced the back door open and it broke through my brother’s bedroom window and my mom’s bedroom ceiling. We were running around trying to get everyone out of the house.
“All our furniture, which my dad had bought, was damaged. My catering equipment also washed away. Thankfully, some of the trinkets my dad gave to my mother and my late husband gave to me were not damaged or washed away.”
Wilkins said the family have struggled to keep their fast since then.
“There was no electricity, so all the food we prepared for Sehri (the meal consumed early in the morning) and Iftar had spoiled. Now we eat sandwiches for when we start and open our fast.
“My mother is devastated. She said she would make samoosas for Eid but where will we keep it without electricity?”
She said her nieces were asthmatic and the mouldy smell was unbearable.
“We look forward to being with our relatives, but we cannot have anyone at our home for Eid while it is in this condition.”