I still remember that moment last October – a moment that in many ways completely changed my life. I was with a couple of colleagues, and during a break in duty, had dropped by the security room of the company I was working in at the time.
In the course of our conversation, the security guy said, “You know something? I just read a news report that said someone won 50 million dirhams in the Mahzooz draw.”
I said, “that’s really nice. I too have entered the draw”.
In fact I had been participating regularly for several months, but had never ever won anything, not even that free chance you get to participate in the next draw if you get three numbers correct.
The security guy then showed me the news report that said an Asian man had won 50 million dirhams, and read out the winning numbers. [The numbers were 6, 11, 21, 32, 33, and 46.] I realised three of the numbers were the ones I too had chosen when I entered the draw.
I was a bit excited; I was sure that I had won at least a free ticket to participate in the next draw.
I then tried opening my Mahzooz account to compare the numbers, but for some reason was unable to. I then remembered that I had taken a screen shot when I participated in the draw, so I checked the screen shot… and, unbelievably, the numbers I had chosen exactly matched the winning numbers!
Honestly, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I kept checking and rechecking, closing the gallery, opening it again and checking the screen shot with the winning numbers, again and again just to make sure it was not a mistake.
By then the security guy who was standing next to me began screaming with joy for my good luck. In minutes, several people from the office came by to ask what had happened.
I, of course, was in a state of delightful shock. I had only expected to win another chance to participate in the next draw and here I was with all the numbers matching and the winner of 50million dirhams [around $13.6million].
Call to my brother
The first person I called to inform was my brother Yasar, who also lives in Dubai with his family.
He was asleep at the time as he works on a kind of split shift. “Yasar, I won,” I told him. “What have you won?” he asked, and I said “50 million dirhams.”
“Okay,” he replied, cut the phone and went back to sleep, sure I was joking.
I then called him again and repeated what I told him earlier but he still thought I was playing a prank and asked me to send him a screenshot of the ticket. I did.
A moment later, he called back and told me, “You know what, you have won 50 million.” It was quite like a comedy movie; he telling me what I had just told him.
The Mahzooz team did not call me as I had used my brother’s phone number when I had registered on the site as I did not have a personal number at the time.
A little later, Yasar called to tell me that he had received a phonecall confirming that I had won the prize.
I must say it took a long time for the reality to sink in. My monthly salary was 6,000 dirhams [$1,633]. But seven months ago I had taken a loan to build a house in Pakistan and the EMI was 3,000 dirhams. So I had just 3,000 dirhams to survive on every month. I had to use this to pay for my accommodation, food, etc. Plus I had to send some money home to my mother and my wife. At the time I had two children and my wife was pregnant with our third baby.
Did I quit my job immediately? Oh no, I did not rush off home. That day I stayed back to finish all the jobs that were assigned to me. I actually wanted to continue in my job but my boss, an extremely kind man, suggested that it would be better for me to quit. And he was right: Once news spread about my win, scores of people including property dealers, investment agents, financial advisers, and aspiring businesspersons thronged the office hoping to meet me and discuss deals.
I truly appreciate my boss’s words. His company is a fine one and he is a very good and kind person. I have only the best wishes for him. He had my best interests in mind when he suggested I quit.
One of the first things I did after I won was to arrange to bring my family – my mother, wife and children – over from Pakistan. I have taken a place in Dubai and we are staying together now.
Actually I was born and raised in Dubai but following my father’s death, my mother returned to Pakistan. My wife had visited Dubai once but it was on a visit visa. Now I am so happy that we are all able to live here together happily with my wife, three children and mother.
Although it’s been more than six months since I won, I still get queries from people asking me how I chose the winning numbers.
Well, I have been a regular participant of this weekly draw. I still do. I have always only used random numbers – I pretty much blindly click on the number pad of the phone to choose the series of six numbers.
The time I won though, I paused when I was about to hit the last number and debated whether I should choose a certain number or the digit next to it. I thought for a moment then closed my eyes and clicked one number. To my good luck, it was the winning number.
Have I stopped participating in the draw? Oh no. I still do so. Every week.
I must say, deep inside I knew that at some point I might win. I’d tell my family to keep praying that some day we would win. I had some financial commitments and kept hoping that the money would come in useful.
Helping family members
One of the things I have done since winning is to see to it that some members of my extended family who are in need, are taken care of. To that end, I have given them money to build a house, or to take care of some of their urgent needs.
I have had a lot of people calling me saying they are my friends or that they know me from a long time but have not been able to keep in touch due to various reasons... I also receive calls from strangers saying they are in dire need of funds for health or some personal reasons. But I am not sure they are all genuine.
I am fortunate in that I have some very good friends who have stood by me through thick and thin. Waleed Seyan is one. We grew up together and he is very close to me. I also have another very good friend, Rizwan Mohammed. He’s from Kerala, India. He is a gem of a person and we keep in touch every single day. Even before I won this money, he was always by my side ready to help me if needed. For instance, when I was diagnosed with stone in the kidney, without a moment’s hesitation he said he would be willing to donate a kidney if I needed it. He truly cares for me and is my best friend.
Strangely, some friends and acquaintances have changed the way they treat me. If earlier they used to consider me like a young man or their equal, now they are a lot more respectful and treat me like I am a very elderly person. I find that hilarious. I am still the same person I have always been. I still enjoy having a chai with my friends from a roadside tea stall, sitting by the side of the road and smoking a cigarette and chatting with friends…
Do I have a lot of plans now with the money? Yes. I live in a joint family. I have five siblings – four brothers and a sister. I’d like all of us to stay together. I often say that the money I won actually belongs to my brothers. It is because of them that I am in this amazing country, UAE.
Following the win, I have treated myself to a few luxuries. I bought my dream car, a Nissan GTR, and another car, a good phone, and have invested in some properties here.
I also bought a house back in Pakistan. A very big house. In the future I plan to set up a chain of restaurants. I am not in a hurry, I want to take things slowly and not rush into anything.
The happiest moments after my win? Seeing my mother back here in Dubai. It was a very emotional moment for me. She had tears in her eyes on seeing me and couldn’t stop hugging me. I guess like all mothers. Also, having my wife and kids here with me makes me extremely happy.
As far as pursuing a profession is concerned, honestly, I am taking it a bit easy right now.
Having said that I am in the process of evaluating all my options as far as setting up a business is concerned. I do not wish to rush into anything. Hopefully, soon I will have an update for you.