Shattered dreams

Shattered dreams

March 10, 2017
Shattered dreams
Shattered dreams

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By Irfan Mohammed

FARUK Mian came to Saudi Arabia in 2015 with dreams of earning money to secure a decent life for his Indian parents who as landless farm laborers lived in abject poverty back home. Instead, the 27-year-old ended up in hospital after a road accident in Riyadh city.

An avid biker, Mian was able to zip through traffic jams to cut trip times in the city. He was also a good football player.

Mian’s dreams came to an abrupt end when the scooter he was riding got involved in a freak accident, which left him paralyzed neck down. With his spinal cord crushed and multiple fractures in other limps, Mian is now unable to move a finger even for taking biometrics to get the exit visa stamped on his passport, nor is he able to pick the phone ringing at his bedside.

He is desperately looking forward to returning to his hometown in Tripura in northeastern India — a journey that will take at least 36 hours.

Mian has been in hospital for more than a year undergoing treatment following the accident that not only crushed him physically but shattered the dreams of his entire family as well. “Death is better than this bitter life,” said Mian from his hospital bed.

Mian was brought to Sanad Hospital by a Saudi Red Crescent ambulance on the chilly evening of Dec. 24, 2015. He remained in the hospital ever since, according to his medical records.

A speeding car had knocked him down in foggy weather and the motorist had escaped without trace. Mian was left unconscious at the scene.

When Mian regained consciousness at the ICU after a long battle with life, he could only remember a speeding car racing toward him and his motorbike in flight in the flick of a moment. He could not describe the features of the car that hit him. He would have been entitled to compensation if the erring driver had been caught.

After 14 months of consummate care, Mian’s condition has somewhat stabilized and he is now in a position to travel, thanks to doctors and staff at Sanad Hospital. He is preparing to return home.

Reaching Mian over the phone is a difficult task as he can’t hold the phone himself and someone has to volunteer to hold it on to his ear.

Despite his difficult state of health, Mian agreed to talk to Saudi Gazette about the tragic twist in his life.

“Tears would flow down my cheek whenever my phone rang because I am unable to pick it up. If the nurses were free without any other patient to attend to, they would come to my help. The only call I used to receive was from my ageing mother, who works overtime in paddy fields to earn extra money to recharge her phone to place a call to speak with me. She would plead me to come home to die in her lap,” Mian said in a choking voice.

He said he had asked the nurse to switch off his phone after realizing the desperation of his mother.

“I can’t even drink water without the help of someone, yet I have to make a day and half’s journey to reach my village in India to be with my mother,” he said.

Living in abject poverty in a village bordering Bangladesh, Mian’s elder brother has decided to come to Saudi Arabia but instead he settled in Mumbai and married a local girl. He abandoned his wife and children as well as his siblings and parents. To support the family, Mian came to Saudi Arabia to work as a driver in Taif but was forced to clean toilets in a function hall. “So I escaped to Riyadh where I worked as tile-fixer for some time,” Mian said, talking of the circumstances that led him to seek work in Saudi Arabia.

“This accident is indeed a tragedy for my entire family, which was pinning high hopes on me. However, I accept it as my fate and blame no one. But I wish to travel back to my homeland so that my mother can hug me before I die though my body won’t sense her touch and my father can spill a fistful of soil in my grave,” said Mian in an emotional tone.

After the accident, the authorities attempted to reach his sponsor in Taif who made it clear that Mian had absconded and he was no longer his responsibility. The sponsor refused to pay for his treatment cost or repatriation.

The Saudi health authorities had spent a huge amount on Mian’s treatment from the insurance provision to support domestic workers. Mian was hired as a house driver and held a valid iqama. However, in four months the expenses had exceeded the limit. Yet considering his condition, the management of Sanad Hospital decided to continue his treatment on humanitarian grounds. Aster DM Healthcare, headed by prominent NRI Dr. Azad Moopen, owns the hospital.

Not only did the hospital management offer necessary medical care and shelter to this destitute Indian, but every one from the hospital staff from Filipino nurses and Indian paramedics to Saudi PR officials helped him as best as they can reflecting their humanitarian side.

Indian Embassy in Riyadh came to the aid of Mian. Prominent social worker and NORKA general consultant Shihab Kottukad, on behalf of the Indian Embassy, took him to the deportation center in an ambulance for finger printing in order to secure him an exit visa. It was difficult for him to record the fingerprint at the deportation center. However, he was able to complete the procedures with the help of others. The embassy also offered to bear the cost of his repatriation from the labor welfare fund. The expenses include a specially equipped stretcher and air tickets for Mian and an aide accompanying him from Riyadh to Agartala in northeast India, according to official sources.

The journey will take more than 36 hours because it involves several stopovers because there are no direct air link between Riyadh and Agartala, the capital of Mian’s native Tripura state. He will travel from Riyadh to Mumbai or New Delhi and then to Agartala via Kolkatta.

March 10, 2017