Abu Dhabi: Seeing his grandmother’s constant tears, three-year-old Asmaul Shaikh has been very distressed.
“Why do you keep calling out my father’s name,” he asks his grandmother, not understanding that his beloved father is no more.
Asmaul’s father, Ajbool Shaikh Hannan, a 24-year-old air conditioner mechanic, was one of the victims of Monday’s tragic accident on the Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Truck Road near Al Rawdah Palace. Since the family learnt of the incident, life has been at a stand-still for them, Ajbool’s two paternal uncles told Gulf News from West Bengal.
Ajbool’s two-year-old daughter Aisha does not understand anything, said Mohammad Mar Jan Mulla, an uncle who works at a garment factory.
His 50-year-old father, Hannan Shaikh, a cycle-rickshaw puller in Kolkata, has a heart problem and the family was depending on the remittance from the son for family expenses, Mulla said.
“Even Ajbool’s support was not enough, that’s why the father is still pulling the rickshaw in a distant city to make both ends meet,” said Mulla.
Ajbool’s father, his 40-year-old mother, Mina Bibi, and 22-year-old, wife Salma Bibi, were not in a position to utter a single word when Gulf News tried to speak to them.
“They have been inconsolable since they were told the tragic news. We do not know how to help them,” said Saifuddin Mullah, another paternal uncle.
When he was saying this over the phone people could be heard sobbing in the background.
“We are just waiting for the body to be repatriated.” Mullah said.
Ajbool left India in 2010 to seek a better future for his small family.
“Being uneducated, he did not have a job here. We don’t have any other means to live; otherwise why should we send our dear son to a far-away place,” Jan Mulla said.
Ajbool was the only Indian worker from his company, ETA, on the doomed bus, having missed the first bus of the morning to his worksite.
“He used to earn about Dh1,100 each month, and sent back about Dh800 for his family. Without this source of income, we are worried that his children have no future,” Saifuddin said.
The family had fond memories of Ajbool’s two-month holiday in September and October last year.
“He and we all were happy the time spent with him,” Mulla said.
“He had so many dreams for his children, and hoped that working hard in the UAE would help fulfil them. Now we are just waiting for his body to be sent back to us,” Mullah said.
Ajbool’s uncle added that any compensation made available by the UAE government, or the company, would be of great help for the devastated family.
“Life is difficult in the village. If we receive any financial help, we simply hope to secure an education for the children and a meagre livelihood for his wife and parents,” Mullah said.
Uniform helps identify Ajbool's body
Ajbool's body was disfigured beyond recognition but his company uniform helped identify the body, a colleague told Gulf News.
As the truck carrying sand and crushed stones suddenly swerved and rammed into the bus from behind, many workers were stuck in the bus and covered in sand that fell from the truck. As a result many of the died on the spot and some of their bodies were mutilated beyond recognition.
“It was difficult to identify the body but the part of his uniform with the name of his company ETA was intact,” he said.
Although his fingerprints were sent for a test to identify the body officially, the colleagues were sure about the body because he was the only one from his company in the doomed bus.
As Gulf News reported, Hannan was waiting to board the bus that would take him to work on Monday morning when he realised he had forgotten his wallet and identity card in his room. He rushed back to his room but by the time he was back, the bus had left the Al Ain workers complex.
Hannan then requested the driver of another bus full of workers leaving for the same worksite for a place on board, and he got one. But he was one of the 24 people who died in the accident.
The colleague was not sure whether Shaikh had properly communicated with the driver of the company bus that he would be back from his room in a few minutes.
“I have never heard of him being late or forgetting something... It's fate; he forgot that wallet on this day and was late by just a few minutes,” the colleague said. Hannan was the only Indian involved in the accident.