"We received a body, but no compensation"
One morning, 20-year-old Mohammed Zameer woke up by the phone ringing. - Abdul Majid died of a heart attack last night on June 14 at nine o'clock, are you related to him? Majid, who drove a bus in Qatar, was Zamer's father. The 54-year-old bus driver left behind his wife and three sons in the village of Akloor in Telangana's Nizamabad district. Eight days after his death, Majid's dead body arrived at his home village. - We received a body but no compensation from the company. In addition, we were told that my father took out an advance on the salary to pay for the intensive care at the end, says Zameer.
Told to the journalistic platform Blankspot
Mohammed Zameer’s phone rang in the early morning June 14, 2020. There was an unknown number on the display.
“Abdul Majid died of a heart attack last night at nine o’clock, are you related to him?”
Abdul Majid, a 54-year-old bus driver, was Mohammed Zameer’s father. One year later, he remembers the phone call like it was yesterday.
“[My father] had a lot of health problems, his heart, the lungs, the liver. He never sent any money home because everything he earned went to medicines and hospital visits in Qatar,” he says.
Mohammed Zameeer, who works in the local mosque, is the oldest son and kept in touch with the father. After Abdul Majid went to Qatar, he slowly became almost a stranger to his own family.
The very last time they spoke was six months before his death.
“He was in his room, eating and I remember him saying that he wanted to come home because he wasn’t feeling well.”The father, who came from Akloor, a village in the Nizamabad district of Telangana, was a bus driver for as long as Mohammed Zameeer can remember. He worked in the Middle East, first in Saudi Arabia for two decades and in Qatar for about seven years.
“My father chauffeured at a number of companies. He mostly drove workers from the camps where they lived to the job sites. We didn’t really know how much he made, he kept that to himself, and somehow my mother managed to scrape together enough for us to survive.”
Abdul Majid was last home in India in 2018 for a two-week vacation.
“He knew his health was declining, but he kept working and he never complained,” Mohammed Zameer says. “He ate well and took care of himself. After so many years in the Gulf he had gotten used to that life and the heat.”
Not until after his death, did the family find out that Abdul Majid had been at the hospital for more than two months due to heart problems.
“We hadn’t spoken for a long time, we tried calling but his phone was turned off. There was no way for us to know how that he was in the intensive care unit at a hospital.”
He is devastated that his father’s employer did not reach out.
“If we would have known, we would have gone to Qatar to take care of him, even in the pandemic and lockdown we could have contacted authorities and gotten special permits to travel, but instead the company just waited to tell us anything until after he had died.”
Eight days after he died, the body of Abdul Majid’s arrived and the local union arranged for an airport pickup.
“We received a body, but no compensation from the company,” Mohammed Zameer says. “We also found out that he had taken out an advance, two month’s pay, to pay for the intensive care.”
The loss of the father and the pandemic has made the last couple of years extremely difficult for the family. Mohammad Zameer makes $20 per month, working at the mosque and his brother has started a small kiosk. The mother also works as a beedi, rolling tobacco.
“The lockdown hit us hard, but in one way or another we will make it,” Mohammad Zameer says.