Dubai: A Pakistani expat in Dubai has spoken of his grief of not being able to see his father one last time before his death amidst the coronavirus flight suspensions.
Ghulam Mustafa Awan, 38, lost his father in Pakistan to a heart and lung condition on April 17.
A finance manager who has lived in Dubai for 15 years, he couldn’t find a seat on the full next-day flight for repatriating stranded Pakistanis. “I tried everything, I contacted Pakistani missions in the UAE, but I couldn’t go and see the face of my father one last time,” he said.
A brief call
His father Malik Nazir Ahmad passed away at home in Khokar village, in Gujrat district of Punjab province. Ahmad, a retiree of the medical department in the Pakistani army, is survived by five sons and five daughters. He was in his 80s, Awan said.
“I had spoken to him over the phone just two days before his death, it was a brief call to say hi, how are you doing. I didn’t know it would be our last talk,” Awan added, breaking down into tears.
After being unable to secure a seat on the flight out from Dubai, Awan informed his family back home to proceed with the funeral arrangements without him.
“I saw the funeral proceedings through a live video link, seeing the scenes from home and then the burial ground. We could only sustain doing that for around 15 minutes at a time.”
Awan, who lives in Dubai with his wife, son and daughter, said he last met his father during a visit to Pakistan in January.
“He was in good health then, always praying at the mosque. In a month he had become weak. He tested negative for coronavirus. The doctor diagnosed an ailment of the heart and lungs. He was taking medication for that at home,” Awan added.
‘Come home if you can’
“My father was ill but not serious, we weren’t expecting to lose him. My family had called to say he had gotten worse, so I shouldgo home if I could.”
However, three of his brothers and two sisters were able to attend the funeral – the rest could not travel from other parts of Pakistan and abroad.
Awan, who lost his mother in 2011, said he was in Dubai then too, but flew down to attend her funeral in Pakistan.