Born to a low-income family in a remote south Indian village, birthday celebrations were an unfamiliar affair for Mahroof Kulathil until his Emirati bosses notified him of its significance just before his 43rd birthday.
"Had I not come to the UAE, perhaps I might have never noticed my birth date," Kulathil who reached the United Arab Emirates 20 years ago told WAM.
When his Emirati bosses congratulated him for being born on the same day of the UAE’s founding day, 2nd December, 1971, and felicitated him at a National Day function, it turned out to be a new life for the man from a humble background.
"There was no such thing called birthday celebration in my family and places where I studied,"says Kerala-born Kulathil who works as an assistant at a federal government entity in Abu Dhabi.
He had attended a madrasa (religious school) in his village, secondary school in a small town where he studied until grade 10, and a college where he studied a two-year certificate course in Islamic religious education.
He feels the generosity of his bosses has added a new colourful chapter to his life.
That first call
Kulathil still remembers the day he received that phone call from a colleague that transformed his life to a "significant existence" during the National Day holidays in 2014.
He was back home to spend the holidays with parents, wife and children. The colleague called up and told him a congratulatory letter had come for him from the top management at his workplace who found out the coincidental birthday just ahead of that National Day.
For Kulathil, that letter was a great recognition.
"I felt so happy and excited. They were so generous to recognise a person doing a small job," Kulathil says smilingly.
On subsequent National Day celebrations, he enjoyed being congratulated by everyone at his workplace.
"However, the celebrations in 2017 was something special," he recollects.
"One of the bosses put me on a camel and offered me an enjoyable ride during the celebrations!"
He says these gestures make him realise how deeply Emiratis love their country. "They love me because I was born on their country’s founding day. See the importance they give to anything or anyone related to their homeland."
Destiny brought me to the UAE
He also feels destiny has helped him land in the right place. "Otherwise why should I reach this country [having a coincidental birthday] and enjoy this much love and recognition?"
Kulathil feels fortunate to have witnessed a fellow-villager receiving an even bigger recognition in the UAE.
"Our entire village celebrated when Kunhi Mohiuddin who worked as an office assistant at Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court was given a farewell by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, [Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces] in January 2018."
As WAM reported, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed exchanged friendly talks and expressed his thanks and appreciation to 63-year-old Mohiuddin for his hard work and dedication.
"The UAE is proud of its brothers and friends who contributed to the march of development and progress in the UAE. We owe them all the respect and appreciation and affection for their efforts and faithful hard work," Sheikh Mohamed said.
"Thanks to this job, my family is well settled and even I was able to help my extended families as well," Mohiuddin had said.
Kulathil said he too had the same experience after reaching the UAE and especially after joining his workplace in 2008.
"I was able to clear my accumulated debts and constructed a house for my family."
He brought two of his brothers who found jobs in Abu Dhabi.
Now he is trying to give a better education to his four children aged 20, 15, 10 and 5. "I am grateful," he concludes.