RAS AL KHAIMAH // Ayisha Irfan cannot remember the car accident that killed her best friend and left her seriously injured just two days before they were supposed to finish university. All she can recall is being told that Suraiyah Akter had not survived the crash. A witness to the accident on March 17 believes it was caused by a speeding driver the young women swerved to avoid. Ms Irfan, 21, and Ms Akter, 23, met on the first day of their fashion and design course at Preston University Ajman. Both dreamed of careers in the fashion industry. Over three years, they became close friends and hoped to open their own boutique after graduation.
Born and raised in Ras al Khaimah to Bangladeshi parents, Ms Akter commuted 45 minutes to the university five days a week, and often drove to Dubai to do promotions or visit friends. The day of the accident, Ms Irfan, who was born in Pakistan and lived with her family in Dubai, was visiting Ms Akter. In the morning, they rushed off to university to hand in their final piece of coursework. "It was actually our last day of college," Ms Irfan said. "We were waiting for our degree.
"On the way we met with an accident. I actually don't remember anything from that day." Nobody is sure precisely how it happened. According to the courts, Ms Akter hit another vehicle when she tried to move into the right-hand lane. Another driver testified that she was trying to avoid a speeding iudriver ahead of her who misjudged a U-turn. The crash happened on the main road out of the city that leads to the Emirates Road, a traffic black spot.
Ms Irfan also recalls the two and a half months she spent in a hospital. She remembers the pain of a dislocated hip, a crushed ankle and a serious knee injury. She remembers her mother sitting by her side, 24 hours a day for two months, and the daily visits from friends that helped her through the trauma. She had five operations. But the physical pain was nothing compared to the heartbreak of losing her best friend.
Days passed before she learnt about Ms Akter's death. "My friend told me. I was crying," Ms Irfan said. "Although I did know there was something wrong, because none of her family were coming to the hospital." Ms Irfan still struggles to talk about her friend's death, but says she believes that all things happen for a reason. "I think whatever has to happen does happen," she said. "Right now I'm still getting well. Now I take life a bit more seriously."