Asna Rooshi, 30, was born in Hyderabad, India. Prior to Katrina, she and her husband lived in Chalmette, LA. I met and interviewed her on October 12, 2005, at the Houston Disaster Recovery Center, a cavernous retail space that housed all the government and non-profit liaisons to Houston-area Katrina evacuees. I originally approached her husband. It became clear that it was she who wished to speak.
I have the words from the dictionary: beyond imagination. If you think, what does “beyond imagination” mean? Go and look at New Orleans. Go look at Chalmette. When you go look over there, then you understand.
My husband first went over and he said: “You will not be able to see. Make your heart stronger. Because it’s not a home anymore.”
Still, I wanted to see it.
I went to my home. It was ruined. Everything was gone. As I said, it’s beyond imagination. You cannot even think, if water comes in someone’s home, that anything could happen like this.
When you entered my house, there was a den, with a sofa, a china table, a sitting place, my TV, and entertainment center. In between the sofa was a beautiful rug. I did carpeting in my house because I have small kids. To me they’re small. A 13- year-old and an 8-year-old. My first daughter’s name is Ruqaya. The second one is Rabia.
It was really beautiful. To my left-hand side was my kitchen, a beautiful dining table with six chairs. Cherry wood. Curtains all around. My kitchen was well-set with Corningwares and everything.
If you go all the way straight—to my left hand side—was my children’s bedroom. Two single beds. Their certificates hung all around. I started from Pre-K. Pre-K certificates. Then I said no, I don’t want to hang the certificates. I will hang the honors. They were honor students, so I hung honor roll certificates. After they got their “Terrific Kids” certificates, I hung “Terrific Kids” certificates. They made beautiful paintings of lovely houses. They said: “Mom, we want to hang these.” I hung their pictures on the notice boards. They used to write notes all around.
In my kids’ room, closet space was not enough for me. I bought two cupboards to put their clothes in. I had a small library in their room and they had collections of Disney books and Highlights. It was a cozy room for my two daughters.
In front of them is my bedroom. One can understand how many things are in a bedroom, but still…my cherry wood bed, two nightstands, and a lamp. My two cupboards and a dresser. Many more things to say, but it’s all gone. Big flower vases. I have a pretty collection of jewelry and bangles. My photo albums. All my photo albums are gone. Those photo albums were of my children. All my children’s certificates were in my room—from the beginning of kindergarten to seventh grade, I had all their certificates and all our school stuff. When they used to get the grades A and B we used to save them. It was all in my cupboard. It’s no more.
The third bedroom I made into a sitting room because I’m Muslim, and in my culture we sit down. I made a pretty Persian rug, and pillows all around like Muslims do. Big curtains. I buy cloth from Hancock. I make curtains very well with pretty frills. I made that sitting room very pretty and beautiful. Flowers all around.
When you came out of my house was my beautiful garden. I was very fond of my flowers. Roses. On my street, everybody said: “Nobody has a collection of roses like you.” White, red, yellow, orange, and all colors. Maybe 6 to 9 colors. Roses I was having. Jasmine I was having. The season of October-November, the people used to say—all my neighbors, they were also very good—they used to say, “We come outside and stand outside to smell it.” Nobody has jasmine.
You know, maybe its destiny. It’s all gone. We don’t know from where to start. Let’s everybody pray for New Orleans people, that they can build their lives. I settled here for 8 years. I have seen people, they lost everything of 25 years, 30 years, and now they have to start over. Still, I thank God that I saved myself, my children, and my husband is with me. In our religion we say that you should thank God for everything. Whatever you have. Life is very important. So we’re thanking God of all this. Maybe we can have everything in the next world. We pray for it.
I was not expecting that Houston people will cooperate like this. They have helped a lot at the time where we needed. Like food, kitchen items, comforters, pillows, all kinds of things. They even donated their children’s—children bring their stuff in Ziploc bags, like toys, crayons, pencils. Even the small children. Their parents told them: “The New Orleans people have been going through such a disaster.” So even small children donated such things.
I went to a disaster center. Over there I saw volunteers are helping and I saw one of the ladies. She came from New Jersey. I talked to her. She said she’s volunteering. She was talking to the people. She was only helping emotionally. It helped me a lot because until that time, I didn’t talk to anybody. When I was sitting and thinking, my children got scared. “What happened mom? Why are you so quiet?” Then I talked to that lady. Maybe I cried. She gave me emotional support and helped me a lot. Thanks for the people that are helping in Houston. Maybe all of the United States. The people have helped a lot.
Everybody has a dream. I hope I get my home back. I don’t say that I want my things back. My dream is I should have a good education for my children because we were in St. Bernard Parish and their schools are very good. I want them to have a good education and obviously a good home. My children are missing school and me too, I’m missing my place.
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