Dubai: I woke up yesterday to learn the devastating news of Steve Jobs' death. He was a close cousin of mine, but we had never met or chatted.
Steve was the son of my uncle Abdul Fattah Jandali, who left Homs in Syria and went to the US to study in the early 1950s. Soon, my uncle, born in 1934, grew fond of the American way of life and culture. He decided to live and work in the US after graduating in political science.
Sad news always spreads far and fast. As I was getting ready to come to work, one of my cousins called from Homs to tell me that Steve had passed. But I already knew that. Another cousin from the US had broken the news early in the morning. Reem, my cousin from Homs, told me the Jandali family is shattered. Steve had convinced several family members to go to the US and pursue academics.
And as the news sank in, I remembered how happy I was late last month when my uncle Abdul Fattah called me, remembering my family back in Homs and telling me how proud he was of me as a journalist. He said to me he would come to Dubai in the not too distant future. We chatted about our family roots and his memories of Homs, but we also talked about Steve's health and the future of Apple. It was then that I realised that Steve was not going to live much longer.
Matter of time
My uncle said to me that it was now a matter of time, and pointed to the fact that he already stepped down as the CEO of the company that he established, led and loved for a long time. Yesterday, he said: "I really don't have anything to say, I know [Steve is dead]."
When we were children growing up in Homs, my mother Bushra Jandali Rifa'e, always mentioned a branch of the Al Jandali family who had decided to live in America. I never paid any attention.
Another uncle, Abdul Wahid, who lives in Homs, told me that Abdul Fattah had a baby boy out of wedlock with an American woman, Joanne, and they gave him up for adoption. Abdul Fattah could not return to Syria because of this "scandal". Abdul Fattah married Joanne and they then had a daughter Mona Jandali Simpson, now a famous American novelist.
Abdul Fattah John Jandali belongs to a prominent Sunni family from Homs. The family is a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
Steve was born on February 24, 1955, and was named Abdul Lateef Jandali. Abdul Fattah is now the vice president and general manager at Pinnacle Entertainment, and a former professor of Political Science and Economics.
I reflected on our connection this morning, about the family and about how scattered we all are. But even though some of us have never met, we share a bond, a connection.
That got stronger yesterday. I wished that I had met Steve. I wished I could have said goodbye.