BY SACHIN KUMAR
Doha: He owed Death his life but the end came fast and furious. It may sound strange, the Indian driver could have been alive today if he had not returned to Qatar on Thursday.
But as fate would have it, Shaikh Babu arrived in the morning and a couple of hours later died in the gas tank explosion in the ‘Istanbul’ restaurant near Landmark Mall — at 10.12am.
He actually did not want to come back. The villager had taken leave and gone to his home town in the southern state of Andra Pradesh to re-unite with his wife after some time.
She had delivered and he was so overjoyed to see his newborn boy that he wanted to be with them but for his poverty.
“I don’t want to come back, I am so happy to see my baby. If I had a little more money, I would not have booked my return ticket to Doha. I want to be with my family, for ever,” Babu had told his childhood friend Azam over telephone from his village.
In a twist of fate, Babu had first called Azam to pick him from the airport. But Azam told him that he could not come because of busy schedule. Babu then called another friend, Venkatesh, also a driver, to pick him up.
And Venkatesh, who worked with Babu, also perished in the explosion.
“Babu was big-hearted. He was always ready to help others,” said Azam, recalling the conversation. He could hardly control his emotions. It was he who identified Babu’s mangled body in the hospital.
Before going to India, Babu had insisted with Azam that the main purpose of his visit home was to see his baby.
Babu, in his early 30s, had got married around a year back and was the sole breadwinner of his family. He hailed from a poor family and had been sending money home regularly.
On the fateful morning, Venkatesh picked up Babu from the airport and they decided to have breakfast together at the restaurant, oblivious of what lay in store for them.
“Both families are so poor, they cannot afford to come to Doha to collect the bodies. The families have requested friends to arrange their repatriation,” said Azam.
Venkatesh, 41, is survived by wife and three children. Most of the people who died in the explosion were from poor families and had been in Doha to earn and support them back home.
And Sherli Closa Castra, 30, had gone to the mall to show some products to his client. After meeting them, he also decided to have breakfast at the restaurant — and died in the blast. The Peninsula