Nine friends in Kozhikode await Rahim's return after 18 years in Saudi jail

Abdul Rahim with his friends. Photo: File/ Special arrangement.

Kozhikode: Nine friends at Petta in Kozhikode's Kodampuzha have eagerly awaited their dear companion's return for 18 years. Their wait is likely to end soon with people within the State and outside coming together to crowdfund Rs 34 crore blood money to reunite Abdul Rahim, now on death row in a Saudi Arabian jail, with his umma (mother). Rahim's return would also mark the culmination of the friends' relentless efforts to raise the money to ensure clemency in the Saudi court.

Shajan Munambath shared the memories of Rahim. "Ten of us used to drive auto-rickshaws at Petta in Kodampuzha," Munambath took a trip down memory lane. "We were thick friends — Najmuddin, Faizal, Askar, Saddique, Mustafa, Ameer, Sayyid, Jabir, Rahim and I. All 10 auto-rickshaws shared the same name, 'Hi Friends'."
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Munambath said they used to wind up by 7 pm and meet under a tree at the auto stand. "After spending some time chatting up, and singing songs, we used to park eight vehicles there and return to our respective homes in two autos," he said. Rahim drove the three-wheeler for about four years before landing a bus driver's job at the Yatheemkhana. Soon after, he received a Saudi Arabian work visa from a friend. "We were all happy while accompanying Rahim to the airport at Karipur after a party the previous day. On the 28th day, we received the shocking news," Munabath recalled.

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"He used to make video calls at 8 pm daily from the jail. Sometimes he showed us the cell in which he was lodged. He seemed to have accepted the fact that he would be killed. Still, he never expressed his apprehensions as if not to make us sad," the man said. The routine changed after the prison authorities confiscated Rahim's phone. "We heard his voice again after a long period," Munabanth added.

Facing Rahim's umma (mother) and uppa (father) was hard for the friends. "His umma was always in tears. Uppa used to sit on the verandah of their old house, enquiring about Rahim's return to anyone who visited him. We tried to tell him that Rahim would soon return but in vain," he said.

Abdul Rahim with his friends. Photo: File/ Special arrangement.

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Even as the friends are upbeat about the recent development, one fact has been tugging at their heartstrings. "We are sad that his uppa is not alive to welcome him back. But the smile back on his umma's face eclipses the sadness. We are all eagerly waiting to meet him again," he added. 

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