Thursday, February 2, 2012

Memories from Asha's UCT friends

This is something that we’ve written together. And these are some memories and thoughts from the years of knowing our Ash, who was also our Smashed potato, and our Smashy, our Esh, our AB and our babe.

The six of us have known smash for the last five or ten years – most of us having met at the beginning of high school, or when we started varsity in 2007. Over these years, there are a couple over-arching ‘Smashy characteristics’ that have remained constant and these were what made our friendship with her so unique and special.

Smashy was properly quirky -- she was the original hipster without even trying. However, this wasn’t a pretence at all as she really knew who she was and had a strong sense of self. For example, one constant in the past ten years has been her fashion sense. It was not unusual to bump into Smashy on campus, walking around in sheep-patterned pyjama pants with socks and high heels. She was able to pull off wearing a shirt that for anyone else would have been too see-through, or a skirt that would have been too short – but she did this with Asha-like class; and on her, and only her, it worked. Once when Nabeelah was ill, Smashy came to visit her wearing a low cut and revealing crocheted waistcoat. When one of us commented on her risqué outfit, she explained that she only wore it to cheer Nabeelah up. Smashy’s quirks were an on-going joke amongst us.

While funny, this is not a once off example of her concern for our well-being. Smashy really cared about her friends, and was always committed to helping us solve the various dramas in our lives. In 2010 we started to call her Asha ‘practical solutions’ Barron. Her philosophy was that a cup of herbal tea, lots of chocolate and a strongly worded email- of which she sent many could solve all interpersonal, or other, troubles. And she was willing to talk us through the stages of her solutions if necessary, at any time of day or night, often quite literally. If anyone dared to drive after having a drink, smoked a cigarette, or made any dubious relationship choices, Smashy was always clear on where she stood in relation to these issues. Her loyalty to us, and her thoughtfulness about our well-being, were always evident in the ways in which she dealt with difficult situations.

When we got to university it was clear that Smashy would really flourish. She gained a huge amount from being in an intellectual environment, but her clarity of thought translated to all spheres of her life. She was a logical thinker and grasped concepts really quickly and well. In high school, failing for Smashy was getting a ‘B’ and in varsity anything other than a First wasn’t good enough. A group of us did an Anthro course together in first year at the same time as Smashy was doing first year maths. Instead of studying for her Anthro exam, scheduled for the day after the Maths exam, she bought out all the luminous pink strawberry and chocolate energy bars on the campus cafeteria, freaked out about the multiple choice section of the Maths paper – and then, did superbly well in her Anthro exam after having done almost no preparation. She had a huge potential, with an incredible amount to offer to academia.

While her intellect was definitely something very obvious to us all, she had several interests, and there were many different facets of her personality. She did - and excelled at - belly dancing for years, read a huge amount of fiction, wrote beautifully, and had a witty and quick sense of humour. She would often say that if philosophy and academics didn’t work out for her, she would become an exotic dancer. And despite her success in many different ways, she was also very modest – in fact she was often oblivious to how impressive and attractive she was.She was a very private person and often didn’t speak about her successes, let alone her personal life.She was a truly multi-faceted and intriguing person, and even we found parts of her life mysterious.

Kate: When I arrived in Cape Town in 2007 to attend UCT, Ashy and the girls standing here with me were some of the first friends i made and quickly became a support system that I had not previously had. This was, for me, the first time i saw the Asha who cared deeply for her friends and held her relationships with them above many other things. i particularly remember one night when Heather and Peter had just bought their house in Kalk Bay, and several of us spent the night camping out there, chatting, laughing, bonding. it sticks out as a moment in which i realised what a special group of friends i had made, and within that, what an important link Asha formed in that bond.

In 2010, Kate, Rebecca, Kai, Tim, and Esh lived together in the Linkoping house. We have very fond memories of Asha’s strange culinary choices, which included tuna marine olives from a tin, pickled onions on a serviette and bags of carrots and apples. We would often hear her rushing down the stairs after spending the night watching a whole series, episode after episode, to get another tub of ice cream or bag of vegetables to replenish her snacks. In particular we were all obsessed with the series True Blood, and we remember Ashy sorted our costumes for a big True Blood-themed house party at Linkoping. She was also put in charge of doing Tim’s make up for the prized role of Lafayette. The house parties were quite a significant part of her years in digs, as well as the regular dinners around the table in Linkoping and certainly for us it felt like we were coming home to some kind of family.

While we writing this, we spent a couple of hours reminiscing about Asha, and even laughing at all our stories of Asha, going through our emails and facebook interactions with her. And we think this is what she would’ve wanted - she was light-hearted, and we have so many positive memories of our friendship with her. Asha was excellent at everything she did. She was a truly amazing chick. There will always be a Smasha shaped hole in our group of friends.

Stacy: I was thinking – last night – I would really just like to phone Asha and ask her what I should say: The conversation would go something like; greetings, pleasantries, news of the day (gossip about all of you) I would then launch into a melodramatic rundown of ‘I don’t what to say, all my feelings etc’. She would remain silent until I ran out of feelings and started to feel silly and then she would say: I have two questions! Firstly; who’s going? Secondly; what’s for eats? Then she’d say, ‘Kaaay, what time? Nyah, I might go, but who actually does anything at 11am, it’s basically snooze-time.

You see, Asha, being Asha, would just not have been so worried about what I have to say. She wasn’t all that fazed by what the world thought of her; it wasn’t the reason why she did her thing the way she did it. So I’ve stopped fretting because the thing about our friendship is I cannot explain it. Words are failing me in a big way, so I’m not going to bother with them that much, I don’t have adjectives in my head with which to do her justice. If I have regrets it’s that one time when I pushed her into a fountain because she wouldn’t stop singing Yellow Submarine.

We called each other Ratti for no reason that I can recall. I doubt I’ll ever meet someone like her again. Someone who looks so scruffy but has so much class, or knows the answers but doesn’t say them out-loud, and who I feel so much all-consuming love for despite the fact that she is fast asleep in Vincent Pallotti snoring like a trouper.

When we visited her on the Wednesday she went into hospital I said that I thought the hospital gown she was wearing looked ‘quiet lovely’ (or words to that effect) and she had a similar one at home, except that one is more ‘seductively cut’ (or words to that effect). She replied – with an eyebrow wiggle – ‘Well, you should see the back’.

Love you always Ratti, you were just the best, what more is there to say.

Message from Asha's cousins

My name is Craig and this is Paul. We are two of Asha’s cousins and would like to share some memories and insights of who Asha was to her family.

We have often said that we feel more like siblings than cousins; our relationships have spread further and ran deeper than family holidays and special occasions. We all feel we have lost far more than a cousin. Our parents have lost more tha

I was talking to Kai yesterday and we were saying that in times of loss, those who are left behind tend to reflect on qualities that they admired. When it comes to our Asha, we can honestly say that there are only good things to
remember. Asha’s kindness and humility; her quiet confidence and self-belief; the way that she followed her own convictions; and her love for her family. Although her time with us was short Asha’s impact was on us was profound.n a niece. On Wednesday our lives as a family were turned upside-down. From now onwards, every time we come together as a family, there will be a deep sense of loss in our hearts but we will continue to hold onto our precious memories of Asha.

I am heart broken, but I am incredibly grateful for the memories and for the relationship that we shared.


Being the

only other cousin who grew up in Cape Town, meant Asha and I spent a lot of time together when we were younger. We attended the same schools, lived in the same suburbs, had the same friends, and as I reflect back, she played a fundamental part in forming the person I am today. I’m pretty sure she never knew it, but I always looked up to her, and strived to be more like her, I would like to say I was in awe all the books she had read, but at that young age I was probably more impressed because she had. cartoon network

As time went on our lives grew apart and we saw each other less, but I’m glad to say I never lost my admiration for my beautiful cousin. Like any good friends it wasn't the amount of time we spent together but the quality of time we shared. I felt like I could chat to Asha about everything, no matter how silly or serious the topic, she always seamed to put everything in perspective for me. AND like any good teacher she never gave me the answer, but rather guided me to find it myself. Your selflessness and care for others will always stand out as one the qualities I most admire in you, I think while you were in hospital these qualities were on full display. Even though we came to visit you, you were still more concerned about how we were, than about yourself. I remember last Monday, as you lay dazed and confused in your hospital bed, I offered you some water, as your mouth was clearly dry, and you replied, “If you don’t mind? Unless you would like some first?”

They say “you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone, well that doesn’t apply to Asha, I always knew you were special, and I think anybody who was lucky enough to have met you would say the same.

Without you the world seams a lot scarier, and I am so sad that we will not be growing old together like we had planned, but I will forever be in awe of you, and I hope that one day when I grow up I will be like you. I love you.

We would like to share a few messages from some of Asha’s other cousins:

Wade and Karen- oldest cousin from Australia and his wife

Asha was very easy to love. She was to us, an unassuming and honest presence. As her eldest cousin I loved her very much. The reality that she is no longer with us is hard to accept. To Heather, Peter, Kai, and the family that have been a close part of her life, we can only imagine the trauma and pain that you are going through. We love you all very much and hope with all our heart that the love of those close to you will help you through the weeks and months ahead. All our love,

Lloyd- Wades younger brother who lives in China

I will remember Asha as a sweet, intelligent and beautiful younger cousin. From playing hide and seek with her in the Kirstenbosch gardens when she was little and more recently sitting around Heather and Pete's kitchen table laughing at her clever and cheeky jokes. I was impressed by the obvious love and respect she had for her mom and dad and her brother. Asha was a cousin I will always feel proud of.

Michelle- One of our younger cousins who has recently moved to Melbourne with her family

Asha was like the big sister I always wished I had. She was extremely clever, one of the kindest people I knew and of course, beautiful. The entire package; a true role model. I would always boast about how smart and cool my older cousin Asha was. Every time we visited Cape Town she was one of the people I would look forward to seeing the most. I know I will miss her with all of my heart. And the wonderful memories I have of the times with her I will never forget. I love and miss you already, cuz.

Kelsey- Michelle’s younger sister

Asha was the sort of person who included everyone no matter what. She made me laugh and had valid opinions and added something to every conversation. She was kind and took interest in me even though I was the youngest. I'll always remember her like that.

Jackie- My older sister

Asha was what I would imagine a fairy to be. Filled with light, delicate and beautiful and always wise. From her earliest days Asha was my little fairy cousin blonde, happy...I think Asha was the most peaceful and self-fulfilled person that I have ever known and I will always remember and aspire towards this grace. I guess like a fairy she lived and like a fairy she floated out of our lives leaving her sparkle in our midst. Her sparkle will always be around us in everything graceful, peaceful and beautiful that we see. Just like she was.

Jade- my wife

As I got to know Asha, I came to understand and share the respect and affection I had known my husband to hold in his heart for his sweet cousin. She was soft and gentle, but quietly strong and devoted to her convictions. Asha’s heart was pure. She had integrity and grace that will continue to inspire those who were honoured to connect with her soul. I have been a part of this family for long enough to know that their lives have been changed forever. The world is darker than it was before without the light that was radiated by the beautiful face and heart of our precious cousin, Asha.

Although today is a painful day, it fills our hearts to see how many people are here to honour Asha. As her family, we are proud that she was one of ours because she shared who she was so generously with all of you.

Asha, we love you. We will never stop missing you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tribute to Asha - Greg Fried, UCT Philosophy Dept

I was one of Asha’s philosophy lecturers, and it’s a great honour to speak today. I know that my feelings can’t remotely compare to the grief of her parents, brother, family and friends. Still, I hope it might mean something to hear of the feelings that Asha inspired in one of her teachers. I won’t presume to speak for my colleagues, though I can simply say that the entire Philosophy Department is bereft.

Asha was very clearly a remarkable person. What was it that made her so special? For one thing, she had many wonderful qualities that seldom go together. Of course she was brilliant, in philosophy and many other fields, but she was also modest. She spoke her mind, standing up for what she believed, but was sensitive and gentle too. She was devoted to her work, and also helpful and giving to others. She was serious and funny. She could express herself very simply, and she was profound, with an appreciation for the nuance and depth of the world.

As Asha’s teacher, I learnt a lot from her. I remember a presentation in which she set out the views of a difficult author. She had asked herself repeatedly what this person meant, and how best to put it, and she gave a talk that was clear, precise and entertaining, qualities that the author himself hadn’t managed to achieve.

For a teacher, there can be a complicated pleasure in having an outstanding student; one awaits the questions and remarks with a mingled sense of anticipation and dread. But Asha’s manner made it enjoyable even to be corrected. I recall her pointing out a significant philosophical mistake I’d made in my lecture notes in the kindest way. She said, ‘I think I see a typo.’

Asha’s Honours thesis was a creative and rigorous reflection on how thought experiments work. In our meetings about the thesis, she showed suppleness and steel in her responses to my remarks. Sometimes she agreed with criticisms, and adjusted her position accordingly; at other times she stood her ground, and explained why she was right.

As a teacher of undergraduates herself, Asha showed great concern for her students, who often expressed their appreciation of her. Once she gave a lecture to my class when I was away, something on the British Empiricists. The topic certainly had the potential to be dull, but I saw Asha’s slides afterwards, which included witty poems, beautiful images of the cosmos and of a sunlit forest, and an incisive structure. Humour, grace and clarity; I was lucky to be her teacher, and her students were lucky too. It was a joy to hear that Asha had won a Commonwealth Scholarship, though it wasn’t surprising. Of course, she was modest about it.

Three days ago my mother saw the notices in the newspaper, some of them written by Asha’s relatives, and she realised that our family had a connection to Asha’s, some generations upstream. It turns out that Asha’s great-grandparents lived in a hotel that was managed by my grandfather. Not only that, but my grandparents were friends with Asha’s great-grandparents, and often said that they held them in very high regard. My mother emphasised that phrase when she told me: very high regard. She was remembering her parents saying it, more than fifty years ago, about their friends.

After I heard this, I thought of a few lines from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. Shakespeare has the character Mark Antony, in his funeral oration over Caesar, say a cynical thing about what we remember of people. ‘The evil that men do lives after them,’ says Mark Anthony; ‘The good is oft interred with their bones.’ I think that even if there is a little truth to this, it is so far from the whole story. We cherish the memories of those we find remarkable. We hold onto our admiration and respect for them. These memories are a gift: they comfort us, they inspire us, they enrich our lives. I can’t really believe that Asha’s gone – I feel she’s going to send me a mail or pop her head round the door. But even when the dreadful truth of her passing has sunk in, I know that as long as I have thoughts and feelings, Asha will have an honoured place in them. She is unforgettable. And though there can be no compensation for the terrible enormity of her absence, I want to say now – to say always – that I hold Asha in very high regard.

My Friend, Asha - James Angove from St Andrews

I knew Asha for five months. In that time, she became one of the closest friends I’ve ever had. It’s a reasonable question to ask just how this was possible in such a short space of time. Those of us who knew Asha well, however, are unlikely to be perplexed. She was one of the most open, honest, accepting, and friendly individuals you could ever hope to meet. Part of this must go down to her family, whom she always spoke of to me with a fondness that just radiated off her. But much still leftover must be attributed to her fascinating character; she was naturally so unassuming, patient, and forgiving.

More than this, she was wise well beyond her years. She was always learning; teaching herself about how to interact with people. Inadvertently, she was also teaching those around her how to live and get on with one another. I most certainly picked up some of her best traits (never enough, mind), which have helped me change the way I approach people, ideas, and even myself. For that, I can never thank her enough. The following snippet of my time with her merits re-telling for how simply it captures the Asha I knew.

My very first meeting with her came on a bus on whichall our course-mates were travelling. There, I spoke with her, just because she smiled in such a way that was effortless—not forced an ounce. In that briefest of moments, much of her character seemed to shine through. Later that day, our class was informed we were to give presentations, preferably in pairs. It was announced, amusingly, that we should find novel ways to sort this out amongst ourselves, despite not knowing each other, and withthe teacher continuing to talk. At this point, I was sat perplexed as to how to engage with my classmates. I’d turned to the person sat next to me to ask if they wanted to present on the philosopher Strawson. They didn’t. So I began to aimlessly shout out the philosopher’s name, hoping invain that someone would enthusiastically pick this up and agree to work with me.

I had no such luck. Then, from across the room, I saw Asha holding up a sign, which said in broad capital letters, ‘AUSTIN’ – the philosopher whom Asha wanted to present on. I was struck right then by how intelligent this approach was. We, a room full of supposedly top-class philosophy students, all shouting aimlessly at each other, getting nowhere – parodying the stereotype of intellectuals so far removed from human reality and the skills it involves. Yet, here was Asha: silent and waiting for someone to respond to her clear, visual message. And so I did. But in the ensuing discussion we had across the room, as to why Austin and not Strawson (who I’d thought far more fun), she explained that we had two essays due the week the Strawson presentation was to be given. There and then, Asha had sold it to me, and revealed everything I needed to know about her: an intelligent forward-planner, and someone totally honest about herself; about, in this instance, how much of procrastinator she knew herself to be. I shared this last quality with her, if nothing else.

Over the next few months, I continually gained from being her friend, and tried to help her as much as she helped me. Given the number of times she would alwaysinsist on feeding me, even unprompted, I could never hope to match her in this regard. But we did havemany long, interesting discussions. Sometimes I would ask why she chose philosophy. She said that she always appreciated clarity; she thought philosophy was a means of getting clear about confusions in the world, and making sure we weren’t talking at cross-purposes to each other. How fitting, then, that no-one who met Asha could be left unsure about her character: it was immediately transparent how clever, thoughtful, responsive, and gifted she was as a person, and in time how loyal she was as a friend.

In Asha we gained such a wonderful human being, and without her we lose a truly positive influence in this world. I do not think we can easily say this of many people, let alone those who pass at such a tenderly young age. Asha, I will never, ever forget you. Thank you for all you taught me and those around me. You are forever in my thoughts.

James x

Words from the family who live in Israel

I am the wordsmith, but now have no words. I am supposed to be inured to pain, but now the agony bites deeper. How I loved that little girl, with her baby voice and spun-gold hair. How I loved to see her with my own children, cousins together, with bonds taken too much for granted. How I loved the grown-up Asha, with the swinging earrings and our pride in her and what she was doing with her life.
Too few years, but every memory indelible now.

I once adapted this poem because it says so much about how I feel about my long-lost sister. Now another angel has ascended to join her in the ranks of those radiant will'o'the wisps that we hold in our hearts forever.

"Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain.
I miss her in the weeping of the rain.
I miss her at the shrinking of the tide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go - so with her memory they brim.

And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell her foot or shone her face,
I say "There is no memory of her here,"
And so stand stricken, so remembering her."

From her loving aunt Linda and uncle Norman in Israel As an adult, I met Asha twice;
First, at my wedding and again during my honeymoon in South Africa.

Both times I was seeing the through rose-coloured glasses, to say the least.
Even during these times where the whole world was shining brightly,
Asha shone more brightly than the rest.

Dancing at the wedding, charming everyone. Walking with us through Capetown, sharing favorite haunts, food, thoughts and hopes for the future with Tsipy and me.

Asha is now frozen in time, a delicate fairy-princess dancing under the lights of my wedding and a mischievous sprite sauntering under the African sun.

Robbie From tiny baby to little girl, from shy teenager to lovely young woman. Living so far away, we saw Asha grow up in fits and starts. As far flung cousins do, we saw Asha mainly on special occasions – at bar mitzvahs, weddings and when babies were born. But actually, looking through our photos, Asha was present at a surprisingly large number of the Israeli Barrons’ events. With that radiant smile of hers, Asha brought in the sunshine wherever she went. Unspoken, there was always the assumption that in due course we would return the favour and come to join in celebrating Asha’s happy occasions. Your death, sweet Asha, has forced us off-course. What should have been, will not be. John Donne wrote “so now the sick starved world must feed upon this joy, that we had her, who now is gone.” We’re happy that you were part of our lives and we will never forget you. Your loving cousins, Jade, Rami, Shvo, Libby & Mishaella I searched through my poetry collection, trying to find a poem to express how I feel and how I felt about Asha.
In the end I wrote my own.

I can only hope it expresses my love towards Asha and how wholly beautiful she was. From Melody Barron, Asha's cousin.
The man had said
That there is a crack
in everything
That that is how the light gets in.

But the woman had said
That she has looked at the clouds
from both sides and that they block
the sun from shining on

Her radiance is not dimmed
Her light still shines in
Her voice cuts through the haze
And creates that crack in everything

Little pieces of all our hearts
Are now dedicated to her
splintered and battered
illuminated by our reflection
and the immersion of affection My first memory of Asha is of a very pale, very bundled-up baby at the back of the van that took us on a family trip – Mummy and Daddy, Peter and Heather, me, Jade, Robert and Melody, Kai and Asha – to Zimbabwe after Grandpa’s consecration, in 1989. My strongest memory of Asha is of a beautiful little girl in a light pink dress dancing at my wedding, wearing a dark pink jersey to keep off the chill of a Jerusalem night in August, 1997. My last memory of Asha is explaining the more unusual dishes in the menu of a old-fashioned restaurant, Rachmo, near the Mahane Yehuda market, a few days after my brother Robert’s wedding in 2009. I am the oldest granddaughter and Asha was the youngest – we lived in different countries, and we didn’t have many opportunities to meet or get to know each other, but I look at my wedding album quite often. To me, Asha will forever be that little girl, dancing and dancing even as she was falling asleep. Leigh

Tribute to my oldest friend – Asha Abi Barron - Beth Vale

(29 January 2012)

Asha and I became friends at 9-years old. I would have liked to claim that it had been before this, but Ash, being the discerning creature she was, insisted that although she observed me from afar;she withheld her approval until we were seated next to each other in Ms Cousoudis’ Gr 4 class.

Ms Cousoudis strategy for giving young children the competitive edge was to build a visible hierarchy in her classroom on the basis of academic results. She constructed a pyramid out of large fruit crates and Asha and I, as the top two students in class, were seated opposite one another on the very top of the pyramid gazing down at the lowly plebs. The catch was that while our less-geekyclassmates were able to sit in sociable groups of six, Asha and I only had each other. And every time we dropped a piece of stationery – it would fall between the cracks of multiple stacked wooden crates never to be retrieved again.

For two seeminglybright kids, Asha and I expended very little time on our academics. Instead, we spent hours during and after school decorating our books with stars, spirals and rainbow-coloured squares. In one class we were given a worksheet with two chickens on it, which we furiously coloured in and named Mr and Mrs Cluck. And so the fantasy began...

Soon we had created a whole world of Clucks – Cluck schools, Cluck parks, families of Clucks - which included Clucks creatively named Kai and Paul. And in order to document the lives of our esteemed Clucks, we produced a poster of the whole of Cluck Cluck Land, which existed in the sky (of course) amidst starts and spirals and rainbows. Illustrations of chickens all over our books were taken as a sign of aptitude by our teacher and soon our cockiness (excuse the pun) over Cluck Cluck Land had reached new heights. We arrived at school one fateful morning begging to present a voluntary oral on the Clucks – to the misery of our fellow classmates.

From there our world-creating powers were unstoppable. Together, we invented Magic Star Fantasy Land - or more fashionably MSFL - filled with unicorns, fairies and an evil beaver brilliantly named Beavis. Next, we fabricated Mouse Land – populated unsurprisingly by mice. All of these worlds were attributed their own creation myths and during breaktimes, all it would take was a quick spin on the gravel tarmac to transport us to any one of them. A tire became a massive pond, a jungle gym the castle – and the two cleverest girls in class wondered the playground talking to dustbins and bushes.

And so the adventure continued, both in and out of school. We terrorised babysitter after babysitter at aftercare and launched tickle-wars in which Asha’s eyes-closed, silent, nose-crinkled laugh was an indubitable sign of victory. We scampered around our gardens and Muizenberg streets, clad in oh-so-trendy tie die and fluffy hair clips – Asha always barefoot chewing on some or other edible plant. We fantasised about the day when we would adopt a daughter together and call her Lily. We created dozens of clubs with only the two of us as members. The best of these was the Lisping Lanterns – an association whose sole mandate was to speak with a lisp and wear lime green. And yet, despite all these accomplishments, for some reason, unbeknownst to us, our parents got the idea that Muizenberg Junior School was not stimulating us academically.

So Ash and I were moved to Wynberg Girls, where we learned that it was no longer acceptable to draw bunnies in our maths books and that girls should busy themselves with needlework rather than scampering barefoot through the streets. In our first year at Wynberg, we were assigned the project of designing a board game. While our classmates busied themselves with imitations of snakes and ladders, Asha and I created a Harry Potter masterpiece with rewards and challenges, fake money and a list of magical tools to be acquired.

Some thought it an unlikely friendship. I was loud, bubbly and outgoing, while Asha was seemingly quite and contained. But I knew better. Asha could shout with the best of them – stamping her funny thin feet with her hands on her hips to show her discontent. In fact Asha and I had a lot in common – both not good at making hasty decisions, both atrocious at sport, both with rooms so messy you couldn’t see the floor and both directionally impaired. We once got lost walking from Heather’s office on UCT upper campus to Asha’s house on lower campus, scuttling across the M3 highway until we eventually found our way.

Throughout our six years of schooling together, I went through terrible phases – at one time a mischievous tomboy who had to stand in the passage for trespassing the grade 7 terrace and at another time a goodie too-shoos head girl who refused to watch age-restricted movies and shouted at Asha for leaning against the school sign. I also showed off a range of hideous fashion trends, once donning lilac from head to toe including bellbottoms and platform shoes. While I tried out many different personas, Asha always seemed to know exactly who she was. Astoundingly, she remained a loyal friend throughout all these cringe phases and up until our twenties relished reminding me of them.

When Asha’s family moved from Muizenberg to Rondebosch and Asha moved to Westerford High School, I hoped that I would do the same. For a while, we even believed we would live next door to each other in the matching houses on Linkoping Road. Instead my family moved much further away to Grahamstown.

Despite a few thousand kilometres separation, we continued with new adventures – countless family holidays and arts festivals, dying our hair wild colours at Cape Town salonsand applying masses of make-up on an underage Asha to try and get her into Grahamstown clubs.

Asha never forgot one birthday. Nor did she forget one Frenzy Day – a day of friendship we created after reconciling a dispute which neither of us can remember, and which we have commemorated on the 8th of February every year for the past decade.

Although for the past few years Asha and I have only seen each other a few times annually – like all good friendships, we were always able to pick up exactly where we left off.

I am one of the lucky few thathas spent most of my life with Asha as my friend. I will remember her for her quick wit sharpened by a fierce vocabulary, her wonderful humour, her ability not to take herself too seriously, her love, compassion and immense loyalty to her family and friends, her adventurous spirit, her mischief and her cheek. I will remember how she could stun a crowd with her belly dancing hips, always had the best come-back for the school bully, how her ‘aloofness’ drove so many admirers crazy, and how she could persuade you into almost anything with pleading eyesand an untouchable argument. Most of all I will remember her imagination – from our fantasy worlds; to her art; our stories and letters; her passion for books, characters and language; and the endless dress up parties - No doubt it was also her imagination that made her such a brilliant philosophical mind.

As a last word: there is a song, which for your sake I won’t sing, that reminds me of everything wonderful about growing up with Asha. Fittingly, for two fanciful chocoholics, it is taken from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I will read just three verses – verses I cannot read without vivid images of a happy, laughing Asha:

Come with me

And you'll be

In a world of

Pure imagination

Take a look

And you'll see

Into your imagination

We'll begin

With a spin

Traveling in

The world of my creation

What we'll see

Will defy


If you want to view paradise

Simply look around and view it

Anything you want to, do it

Wanta change the world?

There's nothing

To it

There is no

Life I know

To compare with

Pure imagination

Living there

You'll be free

If you truly wish to be

Words at memorial from Liz Mills


(Memorial 29 Sunday January 2012)

It is the beautiful, caring, quirky, smart, the delicately feminine, curious, savvy, gentle, pragmatic, humorous, exquisitely light being of Asha Barron that brings us together this morning.

On behalf of Asha’s family, Heather Peter and Kai, I bid you a warm welcome and extend their thanks, their heart-felt appreciation for the phenomenal outpouring of emotional support, generosity and practical help from family, friends and colleagues. People have come from all over the world to be with them and to stand alongside them at this time. To Asha’s Granny Avis, Asha’s Gramps and her Great Uncle Basil and Aunt Erna, your presence and your support are very important to the family. Each one of you here is special and connects in your own particular to Asha and the family. And when Peter met me at their gate a couple of days ago one of the first things he said was that if anything could be learnt from a thing like this, then it was about the value of friendship.

I am Liz, a friend of the family and I will be facilitating these initial more formalised proceedings as we remember and honour Asha.

Time extends, contracts, and stands still. And in what seems like just yesterday Heather and I were chatting about children – not our own - and issues of parenting and Heather said: ‘my children have made parenting easy for me’. It was a moment of spontaneous testimony; a moment of recognition, a moment of joy in and an affirmation of two beautiful young people: Asha and her brother Kai. A mere two, maybe three weeks later we find ourselves here, the events of the past ten days seem unreal and the landscape of life, simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar is irrevocably altered.

Asha’s passing marks a loss; a loss that is profound, a loss that is irredeemable, a loss that is permanent. But where time has length and depth, far more enduring is the gift of her life: a life generously lived, a life full of love, a life that was quite frankly just beautiful. And that is why we gather; to celebrate that life, Asha’s life. A life uniquely and exclusively Asha’s but a life that is also inseparable from and richly reflective of the family that nurtured her.

And so I turn to family who will speak first:

Asha’s Uncle Norman, Peter’s brother who has come from Israel.

Paul and Craig: Asha’s cousins who speak on behalf of all of the cousins.

Beth Vale: the daughter of close, long standing family friends and Asha’s friend reaching back to pre-school years.

Kate, Laura, Stacy, Asmaa, Nabeelah and Rebecca represent the group of friends who span school, university and digs life.

James Angove from St Andrews where Asha was studying has come from the UK to be here.

Greg Fried: Asha’s supervisor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Cape Town.

Of course the conversations are not done, of course the memories will continue to bubble up but we must pause and I must bring these proceedings to a close. On behalf of the family, thank you to those who have spoken; who have evoked Asha so beautifully with their words and thank you too to those who have held and connected the narratives with their quiet listening.

At the start of the morning I welcomed you on behalf of the family. Now I want to close by speaking directly to the family on behalf of all us who are here. A single thought. Time will lengthen and the busyness of our individual lives will overtake all of us and you will feel the moment of falling out of step, the moment when what is held so beautifully here this morning seems to drop away from those around you.

At that moment I want you to remember – to remember and know - that the love, the regard and the deep respect in which we hold Asha, and you Peter and you Heather and you Kai will in reality be no less then than it is now.

Thank you to you all for being here. You are invited to tea, you are invited to picnic. We have access to these beautiful gardens till early evening. You are welcome to come and go as you wish.

Today is Asha’s day.