x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Work is all I have left, says man who lost it all

A Dubai man who lost his family in the Air India Express crash says the only way he can cope is by taking it one day at a time.

DUBAI // Unlike several other bereaved families affected by the Mangalore Air India Express crash, Shafqat Mahamood did not travel to India this week for the memorial ceremony.

Instead, Mr Mahamood stayed in Dubai and mourned the loss of his wife, infant son and two aunts, who were among the 158 fatalities in last year's accident. He said that keeping busy at work is the only way for him to cope with his grief.

"Working keeps me busy, helps me forget things. Otherwise it's difficult to live," said Mr Mahamood, 31, a UAE-born information technology manager with a Jebel Ali company.

"I took very long to settle back down into a routine, and I just need to keep myself very busy. I don't want my family to worry about me anymore. That's why it was best to stay here."

Still, memories of his eight-month-old son and 24-year-old wife haunt him. They were travelling to India along with his aunts for a family wedding. "We got married in 2008, we couldn't even make it to our second anniversary in June," he said. "I have suffered depression. It's not a good thing. It disturbs everyone around you."

The family spent quiet time praying yesterday morning in their Dubai home and according to Islamic norms, they also held a prayer service ahead of the anniversary of the tragedy. However, the airline's delay in processing compensation payments hurts him.

"First we lose our families, and then [Air India] makes us feel we must negotiate," he said. "They should have made it easier for us so we are saved from all this additional trouble. Just give us whatever is legal and finish it off."

"To lose your family is the worst kind of pain," he said. "My family, friends feel sorry seeing me in pain. I was born and brought up here, I just need to go to work every day and stay busy."

rtalwar@thenational.ae