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After Hardship Comes Ease - Kalbe Syed

After Hardship Comes Ease - Kalbe Syed

Issue 73 October 2010

In 2002, Kalbe Syed lost his brother to a brain haemorrhage as a result of a heart condition. Two years later, Kalbe was diagnosed with the same disease that killed his brother. Here, he talks about his journey from emotional and physical volatility, to how he finally found salvation.


It all started in 2002. My brother was suffering from a heart condition but nobody could have anticipated what happened in the days leading up to his death.

We were talking in the living room, when my brother asked for a glass of water. By the time I got back, he was attempting to hold himself up, saying he wasn’t feeling well. Before I knew it, within seconds he collapsed. I called an ambulance which took him to our local hospital. A few hours later, my brother was pronounced dead.

Having died at the tender age of 32, the loss of my brother had a detrimental effect on my family. My father, who was diagnosed with chronic heart disease in 1991 and my mother who is diabetic, were left to deal with my brother’s passing despite their own ailments.

Shortly after my brother passed away, I became quite ill, which led to me being very cold and isolated from everyone around me. I started university in 2004, but six months in to my degree, my illness had only worsened. One day, I came home and fell asleep – only to not wake up the next morning. My family rushed me to the hospital and after numerous tests, I was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome - the same heart condition that had killed my brother. I remained in hospital for eight months after my diagnosis, and as a result of being on large amounts of morphine, I slipped into a coma for a week.

Not long after I regained consciousness, I was taken home although I hadn’t recovered completely. I tried to use this time at home to get better and to communicate with my family, but to no avail. My health worsened again, and as a result of not being able to mentally, emotionally or physically overcome the events that had led up to that point, things began to go downhill again. Feeling as if there was no chance of me ever getting better, I would spend my days locked away in my room, self harming and wanting to end the pain once and for all. I turned away from the people closest to me, but I was so blinded by the physical and emotional turmoil within me that all I wanted was an early death.

Though I had pushed many people away as a result of my behaviour, my cousin approached me one day with a message that changed my life. I was so rebellious at the time, never wanting to talk or listen to anyone, but for the first time in four years, I was listening. I listened to him tell me that my brother would not have wanted to see me abusing my family by abusing myself, that it wasn’t my place to beg for death, nor torment myself by living in the past. He told me that all I had to do was trust in God and he would guide me. His words gave me hope as I picked up the Qur’an and began to read. I read for hours on end, until finally, I felt like I was being embraced. A feeling of comfort overcame me, and with time, I started to feel like I’d found a reason and a source of strength and peace that would help me continue.

As time went on, my faith grew stronger. Though I was spiritually better, my physical condition was still relatively poor. One day I was running errands for my mum, and while on my way up the stairs, I collapsed. I wasn’t unconscious, but I wasn’t in my senses either. I could feel my heart racing and I began to palpitate. For the six months that followed, I was taken to numerous hospitals around the country. When I finally settled down in one place, I was put on steroids which badly affected my kidneys, and it was a long time before I was better and back at home.

In 2006, I took up the opportunity to visit Sayyeda Zainab in Syria. I remember staring at the shrine, praying in my heart, and recalling the events that had led me to where I was. It was here that I was able to fully overcome my life’s trials so far, and pray for God to give me the courage to carry on. This experience proved to be a very fulfilling one, and so I have continued to make an annual visit to Syria for the last eight years.

Although I’m still ill from time to time, there is comfort in knowing that God is always watching over me. I have good days and bad days but the moment my heart begins to ache, I pick up the Qur’an and read it until the pain is no longer there. My illness is like a constant reminder that life is a test, and it’s about taking a leap of faith when you are at your weakest. I have learnt to accept my life the way it is, and no matter what I do, I know that my fate belongs to God and God alone.


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