If I had to best describe my friend Fazlin Ghafoor, I would say he was like Pooh Bear…big, blustery, and just a handsome person.
Like a countless others, I too got to know this affable man during my time as cabin crew at previously Air Lanka, our national airline. And then, he came to live in my neighbourhood and we would bump into each other more often. But never without his beloved wife, Zackiya beside him, at all times.
Fazlin was yet another victim of the dreaded Covid-19. He spent 10 days at a quarantine facility and subsequently on a ventilator at the Nagoda Hospital in Kalutara, before he passed away. This came as a complete shock to us all. When I received the news on that fateful Thursday morning, I felt a deep sense of sadness and loss.
Until then, there were scores of people praying for him. Classmates and friends from Royal College, S. Thomas’ College and Trinity College, batch mates and crew from Air Lanka, now Sri Lankan Airlines, neighbours, numerous relatives and family and the host of others who had crossed paths with him. But all our prayers probably meant that he should pass onto a better world. “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.” He would have wanted that. He died during the holy month of Ramadan. What a blessing for someone so special!
"Fazlin was yet another victim of the dreaded Covid-19. He spent 10 days at a quarantine facility and subsequently on a ventilator at the Nagoda Hospital in Kalutara, before he passed away"
Living in his neighbourhood means I got my fair share (and more) of Zackiya’s delicious cuisine. Fazlin was so proud of Zachiya’s culinary skills that friends and family could drop in at any time to feast at their table. Or she would drive him to my home and he would unravel himself out of their little car, shirt askew, buttons straining against his ample tummy, but carefully balancing the biggest pot of kanji or watalappan, or biriyani. “Empty it now and bring back my pot please…I have to go breakfast” he said just three days before he tested positive for the virus. “But, Faz, you never fast!” He guffawed, his face
creased in smiles. That would be the last time I will ever see him again. That’s hard to imagine.
Fazlin had a natural talent for making others laugh. That’s what I will always remember about him. He had to only enter a room and the giggles would begin…and never stopped until he left the room. His jokes were rib-tickling funny, and his repartee was quintessential. He was, most often, the life of the party!
Fazlin also had a knack for uniting his family from near and far. As the youngest sibling, he did not abide by formalities but went beyond to reach out to distant relatives and bring them into the family fold. As far as he was concerned, they are all equal in his God’s eyes.
A close friend of his told me a touching story about Fazlin’s compassion. He recalls how Fazlin was by his side, day after day, caring and consoling him, mentally and physically, after the loss of his wife. “I will never forget his friendship during that hard time and am forever indebted to him”. That was what Fazlin was about...caring to a fault.
Fazlin’s greatest joy was his son Sajjad. Now a gentle, young man primed and prepared by his father to face the world with respect and courage, Sajjad will take on his father’s role and be his mother’s guardian. But Sajjad and Zackiya will never be alone. There are too many friends and family who owe Fazlin a debt of gratitude for all the good times, the laughter and his unconditional friendship.
“Some people care too much. I think it is called love,” – A perfect Winnie the Pooh quote for my friend, Fazlin.