After we had been living in Algeria for a couple of years, I had to renew my Residency and so my husband gathered all the necessary papers together and handed them in to the appropriate police station. He was abroad when my card was due to be picked up so I had to go to the police station myself along with my eldest daughter, Sarah and my youngest son who was only about 5 at the time. My husband had made friends with the policeman who was responsible for the foreigner’s Residency applications, Mohammed, so although I felt a bit nervous having to get it myself, I knew he would know that I didn’t speak the language.
He was so nice and so kind, and chatted away with my son who asked him if he had a gun, and could he see it. So, Mohammed went to his locker, took out his service gun and, without leaving go of it, let my son touch it. All my son’s Eids came together at this moment – for hours afterwards he was so amazed that he had touched a real gun and kept playing the moment over and over again.
As we left the police station with my Residency Card in my grubby fist, I said to my daughter ‘that’s something else I can do on my own…..if anything happened to your father, and I had to live here on my own without him’. To which she replied ‘you do know you sound like you’re planning to kill him….if anyone overheard you, and he keeled over dead tomorrow, you’d be the only suspect in his death!’ But Mohammed 'The Policeman', whom we had to deal with several times afterwards until he was moved from this position, was always calm and helpful and without fail, cheerful. He became a good family friend, and to me he, unwittingly, gave me a sense of security as a foreigner and a stranger without any family of my own, in this country I had adopted as my home.
So it came as a huge shock when my husband received a call last Tuesday morning to say that he had died suddenly the night before. He was only in his 30s and he had gone to his bedroom after Isha prayer having eaten dinner with his mother, and fallen flat on his face on the floor. When they turned him over he was saying his shahadah with his forefinger up, and complained of pains in his left arm and chest. He died in the hospital soon after. He left behind a young wife, 2 sons, 5 and 8 years old, and he also supported his mother, 2 sisters and his brother. Incidentally he had lost his own father when he was 5 years old. My husband said it was a moving sight to see so many policemen crying at his funeral.
There are some people in this world who touch your life in a meaningful way and who leave an indelible mark on your heart, and Mohammed was such a man. May Allah forgive him all his sins, make his grave wide and spacious and grant him Firdous, and may his two sons grow up on the Straight Path always and be the righteous sons of whom he would be proud.