Shakeel-ur-Rahman last saw his ailing mother in December when she came to Delhi from Bihar’s Samastipur district for treatment. It turned out to be their last meeting.
“I thought I would meet her once the lockdown is lifted, but not everything goes as per our plans,” the 40-year-old businessman said on Sunday as he readied to drive to Ashram chowk with food for labourers battling hunger amid the 21-day lockdown to contain coronavirus.
Rahman, who runs a travel agency in Delhi, lost his mother on Friday morning. When his friends told him to go home to see his mother one last time, he said, “I am needed here in Delhi. I need to ensure that no one’s mother dies of hunger.”
“We (friends) could have requested the administration to allow him to visit his family, but Rahman refused. He said if he is able to help the needy caught in this crisis, it will the best tribute to his mother,” Muslim Mohammad, Rahman’s friend and a social activist, said.
“She had not been keeping well for some time. Yes, I wanted to meet her, to see her one last time, lekin saari icchyaein poori nahi hoti (not everything we wish for comes true),” Rahman said.
While his relatives performed the last rites of his mother, Naushaba Khatoon, Rahman was busy distributing food packets to the needy, homeless people and migrant workers across Delhi.
A family member called him at 7 am Friday, informing him about the demise of his mother. A few hours later, he drove out carrying dry and cooked food for homeless people, Mohammad said.
Rahman and his friends have so far been able to help around 800 families in various parts of the national capital.
“We are a group of friends who have been receiving support from relatives and acquaintances. We generally get calls or WhatsApp messages requesting food for the needy,” Rahman said.
Over the last few days, the group has provided free food to poor, homeless workers in Malviya Nagar, Ashram, Zaidpur, Ismailpur Tughlaq Road, Okhla etc.
The Delhi government has also made arrangements to feed more than 10 lakh people bearing the brunt of the lockdown. Citizen groups, NGOs and voluntary organizations have also been providing free food to the needy.