'A test from our Creator'
"Daddy, I have a nanny but I want to raise my own child," Zareena Emeran told her father-in-law Goosain Emeran when he visited them in Doha, Qatar, recently. She couldn't wait to stop teaching at the end of the school term in the small Arab country to care for her youngest, Umer.
But her dream was shattered - yesterday Zareena and her husband, Moeneeb, buried their 15-month-old son.
Umer, his South African teacher, Shameega Charles, and 17 others died after a fire broke out at a nursery school in Villaggio Mall on Monday morning.
Goosain, from Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, said Umer only started attending the school two weeks ago and had a special bond with Charles, who is from Mitchells Plain.
"She was so fond of this South African child in her class and even wrote to her family to tell them about him," said Goosain, staring at the tissue he twisted tighter and tighter as he spoke about his beloved grandson.
"He was a special child. He couldn't speak yet, but he would lead me to his pram. Then he would point to the door. We would go for a walk in the evenings, when it was cool enough to go outside. It gets so warm there that one cannot touch door knobs."
Moeneeb, a mathematics teacher, and Zareena moved to Qatar 10 years ago. They have five children - Ibraheem, 18, Nuhaa, 16, Fatima, 11, Israa, 10, and Umer, who was born there.
Umer was buried along with his teacher according to Muslim rites.
Nelson Kgwete, spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said their burial was facilitated by the South African embassy in Doha.
"The parents of the 28-year-old woman are based in South Africa and they have given written permission in the form of an affidavit to the ambassador to proceed with the burial," said Kgwete.
Leanne Mikkelsen, who is Charles' cousin, said the family has decided not to speak to the media.
But Goosain is desperate to contact the Charles family to offer them support.
"While we are very sad, we cannot forget about all the other families who lost loved ones. So we cry not only for our grandchild, but for all who died. And we pray that God may grant them the highest place in heaven," said Goosain.
Umer was rushed to hospital, and then came the call from Ibrahim.
"He said: 'Oupa, I think he has left us.' I started crying until I couldn't take more. I became weak and couldn't sleep. I had visions of him all the time. I know this is a test from our Creator. It is a very difficult test, but I hope to come through it."
Ibraheem, Goosain said, was supposed to write his A-Levels yesterday. He is set to fly to Cape Town this week to write entrance exams at the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch to study medicine.
The rest of the family was expected to visit next month.
As the country tried to come to terms with the tragedy, fires broke out at two schools yesterday.
Reuters reported that a small fire started at the Qatar Aeronautical College and another at the Fatima Bint Al-Mogeera school.