Dubai: Dubai resident Razak Akkiparambil, who died after rescuing his son and nephew from flood waters in Kerala on Tuesday, was hailed as a hero with a brave heart as he was laid to rest in his hometown on Wednesday.
Hundreds of people bid a tearful adieu to Akkiparambil, 42, an employee of an Indian school in Dubai, during his funeral held at the Tirur BP Angadi Juma Masjid in Malappuram district in the South Indian state.
“Around 1,000 people attended the funeral. We finished the rituals by 12.30pm,” Akkiparambil’s brother-in-law Shareef told Gulf News over phone from Kerala.
Those present included around 30 employees of the school who are on vacation in Kerala, he said.
“Two students and their families also came over. But they couldn’t see him as the funeral was already over. They prayed at his tomb and visited the family,” Shareef said.
Condolences have been pouring in for Akkiparambil, who was in Kerala to attend his daughter’s wedding that took place a week ago.
“There is a red alert in our district today and it was raining heavily in the morning. Still so many people came to pay tributes to him,” Shareef said.
The father of three drowned after rescuing his son Alavudheen, 16, and nephew Nihal, 12.
Both of them were caught up in flood waters when they tried to save his youngest son Ameen, 13, who slipped and fell into a paddy field flooded with around 3 metres of water, Shareef said on Wednesday.
While another passer-by rescued Ameen, he said Akkiparambil saved the lives of the other two kids.
Though he rescued the children, Akkiparambil collapsed in the water and could not swim to safety.
Meanwhile, a condolence meeting was held in the Dubai school where he worked for 10 years. “All the staff members who are here gathered to pray for him. Many were in tears. We will miss his ever-smiling face,” a senior employee of the school said.
A former employee remembered him as “gentle in his manners and always seen welcoming the students and staff alike with a smile on his lips.”
Several colleagues, students and parents also remembered Akkiparambil as a humble person who was always ready to help. Many talked about his passion for nurturing the garden in the school.
“He died as a hero with a brave heart. He will remain in our memory forever,” said a colleague.
Wilson Arikkat, whose sons study in grades 8 and 10, said Akkiparambil greeted everyone with a smile even if he was busy at work in the scorching heat.
“He used to take care of my children if I was late to pick them back from the school. When my son had a fracture in his leg, he used to take special care of him. I have seen him working very hard.”
“He had a special grace. He died as a hero. We prayed specially for him in the church yesterday. I hope the school management will take the lead in supporting his family along with the teacher and parent community,” he said.
Shareef said Akkiparambil’s family was still in a state of shock and his wife (Shareef’s sister Naseera, 36) and children have been devastated. “We are trying to console them.”
Akkiparambil’s family had been staying at Shareef’s house for the past five days after their own house was flooded.
Tragedy struck the family soon after they all enjoyed a lunch with his newly wed daughter Shahadiya, 18, and husband on Tuesday.
“Naseera is totally devastated. The boys are feeling guilty that this happened because of them. We are trying to console them and take care of them. I hope our people in Dubai will also support us,” said Shareef, who works as a bus driver in the same school and had been a roommate of Akkiparambil in their staff accommodation for two years.