Haj trip turned mirage for slain waiter's mom

Haj trip turned mirage for slain waiter's mom

 
The 58-year-old waiter at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, who was killed in the last November 26 terror attack, had called his mother Mohammedabi just a day before he died.

“Amma, I will come down (to Ambur) shortly on my retirement and will take you all to Mecca (Haj pilgrimage),” said Mohammedabi as tears welled up her wrinkled eyes recalling those last words she heard from her son in Mumbai.

“But later, we could only see his body when it arrived (on the wee hours of Nov 28),” she told Deccan Herald, here on Monday. Later, the same day, Rahamatullah’s mortal remains was buried at Neelakollai mosque here, chipped in an elderly neighbour T Abdul Salam, consoling the old lady.

Seated on a coir mat in their modest tiled-roofed house, the only asset her late husband Shaukat Ali — also a Taj employee for long years before his son stepped into his shoe on Ali’s retirement — had left for her, the first year remembrance is marked by profound silence.

Rahamatullah was to retire in about two months then. He was born in Ambur and studied up to ninth class in a local government high school, his mother vividly elaborated despite pushing her 80s’ now. Barring her daughter Asiya’s (Rahamatullah’s sister) support, Mohammedabi’s predicament is that of a solitary reaper.

“I did not first tell my mom about my brother’s death on hearing the news,” Asiya intervened to explain. Rahamatullah was on the night shift that day, and was serving dinner to customers at the Taj, when “for a moment he stepped aside and turned back when the terrorists struck, spraying bullets,” Asiya said, retelling the version that had filtered down to them at Ambur.

“Since my brother’s action saved the Taj Hotel’s manager, Rahmatullah’s family was given extra compensation,” Asiya stuttered, unable to hide the grief. Even Rahamatullah’s wife Kursheed Begum did not first get to know of his death in that informational chaos, hours after the dastardly terror attack.

Generous gesture

However, in a generous gesture, the Taj Hotels gave Rahamatullah’s elder son Kalimullah job in one of their Chennai hotels, as the family did not wanted to go back to Mumbai after the tragedy, Asiya added. The dead waiter’s family live in another part of Ambur now, leaving the old woman all to herself.

Yet to come out of their sorrow, Mohammedabi now just barely nerves around in her house like a thin piece of wire. “What do I say when my only son whom I looked for support is no longer there,” she responded, weeping silently.

“Chief Minister M Karunanidhi sanctioned us Rs 1 lakh, but even that had to be shared between seven people and I got a mere Rs 16,000-odd,” said Mohammedabi.
The solatium was divided between Rahamatullah’s wife and their five children.

“Forget the money, nobody even looks me up,” she mused fatalistically, as the Haj trip turned a mirage. “We will deeply pray for his soul (on Nov 26),” the mother and daughter said, even as another relative informed that the Taj management has invited Rahamatullah’s wife and son to Mumbai for a memorial meeting there that day.

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