The widow of US-Bangla Airlines pilot Abid Sultan has died about a week after she was hospitalised with a stroke she had suffered on hearing about her husband’s passing in a plane crash in Kathmandu.
Doctors at the National Institute of Neurosciences and Hospital in Dhaka declared Afsana Khanam dead at 9am on Friday.
“We have done everything we could to save her. But she suffered a cardiac arrest today. After that, we had nothing to do,” said Dr Badrul Alam, the joint director of the hospital.
Afsana was buried next to her husband’s grave at the military graveyard in the capital’s Banani around 7pm following a Namaz-e-Janaza or funeral prayers at Gausul Azam Jame Mosque in Uttara near their home after Asr prayers.
Pilot Abid’s son traumatised after losing both parents.His mother died after suffering a stroke only after 11 days his father was killed in a plane crash; Tanzib Bin Sultan Mahi, the only offspring of Abid Sultan and Afsana Khanam became traumatised after this severe loss.
Relatives and neighbours poured in when Afsana’s body was taken to her residence in Uttara.
“My son is a classmate of Mahi. I wonder how he would survive this trauma at such a tender age? He was the apple of their eyes. Now he has to live without his parents,” said a family friend of Abid and Afsana.
Afsana was admitted to hospital on Mar 18, with a stroke after hearing the news of her husband’s death. Mahi had moved to his uncle’s and then to his grandfather’s house in Mirpur.
Mahi was brought to the National Institute of Neurosciences and Hospital at Agargaon in the morning after his mother passed away. He stayed with his uncle Dr Khurshid Alam there. He went back to his home in Uttara with the coffin bearing his mother in the afternoon.
Mahi’s friends and their parents also came to his residence at Sector 13 in Uttara along with his relatives. The ambience turned emotional as the close family and friends grieved. Mahi remained silent.
Mahi was not allowed to see his mother’s dead body under the belief that he would not be able to bear the trauma of losing both parents. However, he was allowed to see his mother’s face for the last time before she was taken for Namaz-e-Janaza or funeral prayers.
He also accompanied her in the ambulance during the journey to the Gausul Azam mosque in Uttara for funeral prayers.
At around 6.00 pm, Afsana’s body was taken to the army graveyard in Banani where her husband Abid Sultan has been buried last week. She was laid to rest next to her husband.
Mahi stood silently while his mother was buried, tears streaming from his eyes. His uncle Khurshid Alam held his hand. He was seen accompanying Mahi throughout the day.
Mahi, an O Level student in Mastermind School in Uttara will live in Mirpur with this uncle from now on, said Jesrin Chowdhury Sheuly, a close friend of Mahi’s mother.
Friends and relatives expressed their anxiety regarding the effect of the harsh loss faced by Mahi at the age of 16.
Abid and Afsana had a ‘happy family’ with their only child, said their neighbour Maria. “I have never heard of anybody dying after hearing the news of her husband’s death,” she told bdnews24.com.
“Their picturesque family has been shattered with the loss of both parents; we are worried about how boy will survive this trauma. What will happen to him?” said Maria.
“She (Afsana) suppressed her feelings by not crying, trying to control herself; maybe that’s why she suffered from a stroke,” said another lady close to the family.
“The couple had a great relationship; maybe she didn’t want to live without her husband and followed him to death,” she added.
A former Bangladesh Air Force officer, Abid Sultan was flying the US-Bangla plane that crashed in Nepal on Mar 12. He was killed along with 48 others in the worst aviation disaster in Bangladesh’s history.
Friends, relatives neighbours and well-wishers remembered Afsana Khanam as an amicable and ever-smiling person.
“Auntie was a cheerful person. I never expected her death so soon after uncle’s. I feel very bad for Mahi,” said Mim, a friend of Mahi. “I just wonder what we would do if this had happened to us,” she added.
Mim, a class-mate of Mahi in Mastermind School said Mahi has always been a quiet boy. “Uncle (Mahi’s father) was his best friend; and now his best friend is gone,” said Mim.
Abid, who hailed from the northern district of Naogaon, was educated at the Dhaka Residential Model College before joining the Bangladesh Air Force Academy.
He had been a flight lieutenant before retiring and working as a pilot for commercial airlines.
Abid’s father MA Kashem was also an aviator. He was one of the few Bengali officers in the 1960s, who flew fighter planes in the air force.
His wife Afsana was the daughter of A Quashem Sheikh, a doctor by profession from the southwestern district of Natore. Both of Afsana’s siblings live overseas.