By Mohamed Sherif
Since that dreadful morning of his passing on Sunday, March 17, I have tried to gather strength and perseverance within the dictates of my faith. I have had consistent flashbacks, flashbacks to memorable times when Abdullah was with us on transitional earth. We made phone calls to each other, talked about the past, the present and the future. That was before ten days ago. But it hit me last weekend that I could not make that phone call, for it will no longer be answered from the other end.
One day in 1999, my phone rang. I picked it up and on the other end was Abdullah Dukuly calling from the Netherlands. Within another week, he called again. He was so excited that I have moved to the United States. He himself moved to the U.S. three years later got married and settled in New York. Both New York and Philadelphia were his hometowns away from home.
When I will travel to Upstate New York to visit family members and in-laws, Abdullah will insist that I stop in New York City so that we make the trips together. He always insisted that I find him whenever I visited NYC to the extent that this became a ritual with all the best of intentions. The good man accompanied me to Staten Island one day. I was invited to the wedding of my high school classmate, D. Dorliae. I hopped off the train at Penn Station.
Abdullah came from his home in the Bronx to Manhattan to meet me. Before we departed the train station, I walked into a store to purchase gifts for the groom. Abdullah followed me. I got a card and the relevant gifts. Abdullah said he too was purchasing gift. Astonished, I ask him if he knew the couple, he answered no. But added that as long as I knew them and they were my friends, that’s all that matters. What a decent human being!
There was never a moment when I saw him got upset or rattled. He laughed, laughed, and laughed a lot. Whenever we met, lots of talking went on. He called me several names, my own names and other names of endearment, some of whom I, a humble servant, don’t probably deserve. But for Abdullah, everyone was important to him. If you were ever confused about anything or feeling down and out, you needed to speak to Abdullah. He had the instinctive traits of making everyone feel happy.
Abdullah attended all major community functions. He supported intellectual activities. He was an intellectual. He was a constant reader of articles on our major ListServs and websites. Through hard work, he earned his Bachelor’s degree and was working towards his Master’s. He visited friends who were sick or bereaved or had the glad tidings of new additions into their families.
Several years ago in Diecke, I had the opportunity of meeting Abdullah’s father who informed me he was a good friend of my father during their youth in Ganta. What a befitting coincidence then it was for me to have been friend with the son of my father’s friend.
At his funeral prayer in New York City on March 18, the Imam spoke of the man who frequented the Mosque daily, prayed and read the Qur’an. Abdullah lived a life worth emulating. He came to the transitional theater of life, lived out its truest meanings and delivered unto the rest of us a shining example, a footprint into the proverbial sands of time. He came and now he’s gone. There truly used to live a friend who was a friend of everyone. May he now rest in peace, the peace of eternal salvation, May Almighty grant him the ultimate reward of paradise.