Ghafoor Uncle (as he was fondly known by us) showered me with his affection even before my birth, when he would visit my parents often when my mother was expecting me, with kanji (Porridge). To this day, kanji holds a special space in my heart due to this reason. He was a close friend of my father from Royal College, but was loved and had great relationships with members of each generation of our family. He would often travel to visit my grandparents in Matara and spend a few days with them.
Being a devout Muslim, he showed respect and reverence for all other religions, often participating in religious ceremonies at the temple with us and being an active participant at danes (almsgivings) and pirith ceremonies held at our home. He entered his son, Sajad for the Light of Asia Competition and beamed with pride when Sajad recited the verses for family and friends. He was one of the most lively and entertaining people I knew. We would often look forward to visit his home to hear the dramatic recollections of his time as part of the first flight crew of Air Lanka in 1979 and then as an in-flight trainer. Following my marriage, Ghafoor Uncle invited our family to his home for dinner and welcomed myself and my husband, Kishan, following the customs to welcome a newly married Muslim couple, expressing the love he and his family had towards us.
Ghafoor Uncle was blessed to wed Aunty Zackiya, a wonderful lady who supported him through his life. She is an amazing cook and hostess whose hospitality we have often enjoyed. His son, Sajad is one of a most gracious young men I’ve known and it was a pleasure to grow up with him. Sajad’s achievements are a true testament to Ghafoor Uncle’s influence.
Ghafoor Uncle was a devout son to his parents, a supportive brother to his siblings and adored by his nieces and nephews. He was well loved by his friends from Royal College and all his neighbours over the years for his kindness and spirit of generosity. He would always rush to support family or friends at their hour of need and was a pillar of strength to all.
Ghafoor Uncle’s passing due to COVID-19 in May 2021 was a great shock to us all. We had all hoped to enjoy his company for many years to come. I will always recount the last time we met (Ramazan 2019) with happiness and sadness, thinking of the wonderful time and memories of the day, and sadness as we did not know it would be the last time, we would see him. His absence will always be felt deeply and he will forever be fondly remembered by us all.
I sincerely hope that Allah the most Beneficent would give Ghafoor Uncle the highest levels of Jannah.
Janani Wijetunge Palihakkara