Crown The Brown: Kiara Ghirao
Crown The Brown shares the story of Kiara Ghirao and how 2018 changed her life forever. Kiara Ghirao is a 22 year old Johannesburg resident. She has completed her Bachelors of Arts in International Relations at the University of Witwatersrand. Currently, completing her final LLB at Wits as well.
Above all, not only is Kiara a student but she also teacher and dancer under Surya Dance Academy. Kiara has a passion for dancing and believes that it showcases one’s true self. Likewise, in 2018, Kiara became Miss India Gauteng 2018 and Miss India South Africa second Princess 2018. This new found passion and philanthropy enabled Kiara to certainly become more active in the community as well.
All of these accomplishments shaped Kiara‘s life and she became well-known for all her good deeds but unfortunately, 2018 brought some challenges on her path that this strong young lady had to conquer. Challenges that broke her down and we can surely attest to how strong this young lady is for sharing it with us today.
This is my story.
As I entered 2018,i entered the year on the highest high of my life. At the time, I had 3 exciting and life changing experiences. My 21st, Miss India Gauteng 2018 and My graduation. The first being my 21st, where I had been surrounded by many family and friends. (this was the last event my grandmother had attended with my whole family – I’m stating it now so it becomes a bit more relevant later on.)
Miss India Gauteng 2018 pageant.
I entered the pageant to break out of my comfort zone. Being a dancer and a law student, I wanted be put on the spot during the Q and A segment of the pageant. This was for personal growth. But more importantly, I wanted to get involved in more philanthropic projects in my area. I’ve always done philanthropic work but in 2018 I did it almost every single weekend. After the pageant, It became so thrilling for me because I never had any pageant experience and by giving it my all. I managed to get the crown and title of Miss India Gauteng 2018.
This brought so much of happiness and excitement for my family. Looking back, it was so special because I had my father and grandmother with me at the time. Both of them were my biggest supporters. Both always showed up for every event I attended whether it was a dancing concert, my birthday or academic accomplishment.
The third experience I entailed was where my life turned. On the 28th of March 2018, i had been invited to attend my graduation at Wits University where I graduated with my Degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. Many people around me told me that 2018 was my year – little did I know it was actually my worst.
A graduation is meant to be a celebratory event where your hard work is awarded. However, God had other plans for me that day.
I woke up in the morning, next to my Amma in my bed. We woke up as usual where we would talk and discuss the plans for our day. We dressed up and set off to Wits. I had gotten a special parking which is the basement parking of wits which reserves it for graduations.
As we entered the ground floor, I had to leave my family to go and fetch the my gown for graduation. I turned to my granny and said “I’ll see you just now, MA.” little did I know that would be the last words I would say to her. My family then walked together to the graduation hall.
I went to fetch my gown and wanted to go see my family. As I walked down the stairs, I saw a green sari on an ambulance stretcher bed and turning to my friend in confusion saying that can’t be my granny – I literally just saw her. I looked up and saw my fathers face where he was in disbelief. My granny had walked with my family to the hall, sat down on a chair and spoke to another old lady next to her.
In a matter of seconds, she just closed her eyes and began to lean off the chair. She looked at my brother in his eye and took her final breathe.
This happened instantaneously – her life left her body in a matter of seconds – out of the blue. The ambulance at Wits (who had been stationed outside) came in immediately to get her and tried their very best to bring her back. The shock and panic that went through our bodies is something that is indescribable. At the time the ambulance took my granny’s body to their van.
My family forced me to enter the graduation hall.
Furthermore, I remember telling my mother that there was no point because how could I walk across a stage and get my degree when my family wasn’t even there to witness it. My father told me that it would be fine and he would update me.
As I entered the hall.
I remember being shocked. Walking to my seat. Looking around like a lost puppy. My mother sent a message to my phone, saying that ‘Amma is fine.’ I remember the sense of relief I felt. What she was meant to type is that…
‘Amma is gone.’
The graduation ceremony began. As I sat down, a lady came to call me out of graduation. My precious Amma was gone. As I came out of the hall, I ran to my brother. We went to join our family at the ambulance van. I began to feel as if I was in a daze. I remember looking around as my peers took pictures of excitement, while I had been siting in a ambulance van, heart broken.
Following the Telegu tradition, my family and I had to stay in KZN for 3 weeks to conduct the ceremonies and rituals. This meant that I had to miss all of my tests which set me back hard at Wits. With good friends who helped me with notes, hard work, sleepless nights and dealing with the loss of my Amma.
Above all, I had no option but to push myself. Thankfully, I passed all courses in semester 1 and I even received an award of merit for business law. There were many times I wanted to give up or felt as if I was stuck in one place but I had to pick myself up again and keep on moving.
“You think that these things only happen in the movies, but God has other plans for you.”
The point of telling this story is to always be kind to other people around because you never really know what they’re going through. So always check up on your family and friends. A listening ear can go along way.
Somehow I found the strength to keep going – to keep updated with my studies, my dancing and my work as the Miss India Gauteng. I didn’t have it easy at all, I had to balance so many of these things.
Soon after, I got good news which really lifted my spirits. I had been offered vacation work at my dream law firm. The offices were situated in Sandton, so to avoid the traffic I decided to stay with my aunt for those 2 weeks.
Coming from an extremely close family, those 2 weeks away from them felt like 2 months. My father would phone me every single morning at 6am to wake me up and wish me well for my day. I remember coming home after Day 3 at work and seeing my father on our couch. I had missed him so much, I couldn’t wait to tell him all about my experiences during those 3 days.
After the 2 weeks were up, I came home. Little did I know that I would have one last week to spend with my father.
On the 15th of July 2018, I had lost my entire universe.
It was a Sunday morning and my family and I were all in the lounge. It was our routine to eat breakfast together and chat about the events of our week and our weekend. My father had told us that he would be attending a funeral of 1 of his friend’s and would see us all later for supper. He jumped into his car and left our house – for the last time…..
Please note that my father did not have any indication of or have a heart attack prior.
10 minutes after my father left, my mother received a call from a tow trucking company that said my father had been in an accident. My mother screamed for my older brother. They bolted out the house. My father was a slow driver so for him to be involved in a car accident was something out of the ordinary.
We were instructed to rush to Olivedale hospital where my father had been taken. As we were driving, we saw the accident scene. I never ever pictured what I had seen. My father’s car had ended up on the opposite of the road.
My younger brother who had been driving at the time began to tremble. When I say tremble, he’s entire body began to shake. He turned to me and said ‘Dad is gone, I can feel it.’ I remember being so annoyed at him for even thinking that because we were told it was ‘just an accident.’
I refused to believe that my father whom I saw 20 minutes earlier could have been gone.
As we entered Olivedale hospital, we were told to go to the emergency Centre. We were told to sit and someone would attend to us. Our family and friends met us at the hospital after 2 minutes (something we have been so blessed to have.) All I remember was that I was in shock. I began to sense something went wrong and the tears kept falling. One of the doctors came to us after 10 minutes and told us that my father’s heart stopped beating. Instantly, I felt my heart break…. She told us that they were doing everything possible to bring him back and she would inform us after.
My body began to shake, my mind could not process this thought, my heart began to race and my eyes could not stop the tears. 5 minutes went by when we were told that we had lost my father. At that point, I fell to the floor. My body could not handle the fact that my entire world had been snatched from me in a matter of minutes. Right now, typing this my heart is breaking and my tears are flowing.
Thereon after, my life has felt as if I am in one, extremely long dream. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself to realize that this is life.
Again, I had to pick myself up and put a brave face on. I had to put in the hard work, sleepless nights and many mini break downs. Absenteeism became common due to following the Hindu rituals for the funeral. I managed to put myself on a stage for the first time without my Amma or Father watching me for the Miss India South Africa 2018.
Just before I could walk on the stage, I remember tearing behind the stage. 2 minutes later I walked across the stage, with a huge smile on my face for the crowd. But inside, I was devastated and broken. I had to pick myself up and get on that stage because I didn’t come that far or worked that hard just to quit. Somehow, I did and I managed to place as the Miss India South Africa second princess 2018.
I closed off 2018 on my lowest low. My father’s birthday is the 1st of January and he was meant to turn 50 this year. On the 1st I simply just wanted to give up. However, 7 months into 2019 I’m still here. Somehow, I manage to push through life and just keep going.
The point of my story
LOVE your parents every single second that you have them. Give them respect, love, kindness and make them nothing but proud of you. If we aren’t living to make our parents proud then are we really living.
Life is really too short. You will never know when your life will change. So live your best life, be happy and never regret doing anything. “we die once and live every single day.”
So live the life that will bring you peace, love and happiness.
Furthermore, although, my family unit had a short period of time together, we were not short of happiness and love. My heart breaks every single morning when I wake up and have to encounter seeing my fathers face in a frame. However, I am so grateful to God for blessing us with him. He was the kindest, funniest and most loving individual that I knew.
-the support we had received and that we still receive from our family and friends is amazing. Their love and support carried us through the most difficult times in our lives. For that, we are eternally grateful.
To my Amma and Dad:
You were both incredibly special and extraordinary individuals. I pray that I can grow up to be half of what they are. In honour of my Amma, I opened up Paris Library in Ponego Secondary High where I managed to get over 1000 textbooks donated to the library.
In honour of my father, the VIP room at the World Sports Betting Centre in Northgate has been named in his honour. Secondly, the Duks trophy at my father’s high school (Welbedene High School in Chatsworth Durban) where he had been headboy – is named in honour of my father.
Lastly, my father grew up in Unit 7 Chatsworth where he was extremely proud of his hometown. The community has set up a feeding scheme in which they feed the homeless twice a month.
May their legacy always live on ♥️