Abbas Khan with his grandson Hadi
Abbas Khan with his grandson Hadi Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Dubai: Perhaps March 20, 2020 will never be easily forgotten. It’s nearly a year and the memory is still so fresh and vivid as I stood saying goodbye to possibly one of my closest friends in the UAE — Abbas Khan.

It was just the previous day that Abbas had decided he wanted to be with his wife Sima, daughter Mahreen, son-in-law Hussain Masaoud and their toddler son Hadi, whom he truly adored.

“You should go back and be with your wife during this time of the pandemic,” were Abbas’ words of advice.

I never in my wildest dream thought that that would be the very last time we would see each other as Abbas succumbed to COVID-19 sepsis at London’s St George’s Hospital in the early hours of Saturday.

In COVID-19 sepsis, the body has a dysregulated immune response to coronavirus, which causes life-threatening dysfunction in organs including lungs, brain, kidneys, heart and liver.

Though away in London with the family, we kept in touch on a regular basis. And besides the regular news from this end, Abbas was always eager to know how this part of the world was coping with the coronavirus.

On January 6, he forwarded me a post on WhatsApp: “There are people like you who give us strength that we need to face the day-to-day problems. I look at you, my brother and I am proud. After so many battles faced, some lost, others victorious, I find you a complete winner standing there with a lot of faith. Nobody knocks you down because Allah is the One that sustains you. You are a brother and I thank Allah for a genuine brother like you.”

That was the last message I got from him. After this, I got in touch with his wife Sima and she made it a point to give me updates on his well-being on a daily basis, until the one line earlier this morning that simply said: “He has passed away”.

Having known him for well over two decades, Abbas was a professional to the core. And yet, he was so simple and straightforward at the same time. He was never one to mince his words. He was honest in his words and deeds, and if at all he had any fault then it was for the weekly kebab meetings we used to have at the Al Ustadi Iranian Restaurant down Bur Dubai.

Rest in peace my dear brother, friend and confidant.