The parents of a man who died when his car was trapped in New South Wales flood waters have farewelled their son at a prayer service in Sydney after flying in from Pakistan.
Ayaz Younus, 25, was travelling to his first day at a new job in Glenorie on 24 March when his car got stuck in flood waters and he was unable to escape. He was on the phone to emergency services for almost 40 minutes before he died.
His grieving parents were given permission to enter Australia for the funeral. They arrived in Sydney on Sunday and followed strict protocols.
The emotional couple were unable to touch their son’s body or coffin and were kept apart from Younus’s friends due to Covid restrictions.
Younus’s father, Muhammad Younus, was unable to address mourners but in a pre-recorded message broadcast at the service said the family was heartbroken.
“When I stepped out of Sydney airport, my eyes were looking for him,” the grieving father said.
“I wished he would have been there to welcome his parents. I wished we could have hugged him once more. I wished we could have embraced him and kissed his forehead. But alas it didn’t happen. Rather we are here to say goodbye to him.”
Muhammad Younus said his son had spoken to his family about bringing them to Australia and showing them his new home.
“Australia is a beautiful country and once you come here, Dad, I will show you around. These were the words of my dear son Ayaz whenever he used to call me,” he said.
“One day before his death, he was talking to his friend and telling him that now he would be doing double duty as a truck driver and also as an Uber driver, so he may bring his parents, brothers and sister here in Australia.”
The father thanked the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, for helping organise their attendance.
“I wished my children could have been here with me also, to say goodbye to their beloved brother. I still hope and pray that one day they will be here to pay their respect and pray, standing at his grave.”
Younus had three siblings – two older brothers and a younger sister – who were unable to attend the service and instead watched it on Zoom from Pakistan.
Younus’s parents were confined to a car for the actual burial, forced to watch and film from a distance through a partially wound-down window. Muhammad Younus was briefly allowed outside the vehicle to shovel sand on his son’s coffin.
The funeral was held at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Australia’s mosque, the Baitul Huda mosque, in Marsden Park.
The association helped pay for the family’s travel, accommodation and funeral costs because Younus was an active volunteer with the organisation.
Younus’s coffin was earlier displayed in a hall for his friends and family to farewell him. When his parents arrived, the hall was emptied.
Younus was remembered as an active member of the local community who arrived in Australia two years ago. He had volunteered to help with the flood clean-up before he died.
Younus shared a home with two friends – Imran Ahfad and Atta Sharifi.
Ahfad said they had enjoyed travelling and seeing Australia. “We travelled a lot, especially in the past year, to different cities,” he said. “We would spend time there with friends.”
The housemate said Younus “loved going to the gym and playing volleyball – he was a very energetic person”.
Mirza Sharif, the public relations director at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Australia, said it had been difficult to arrange for Younus’s parents to travel to Sydney for the funeral.
“They’re in quarantine at the moment and an exemption was given only after an intense negotiation, with the immigration department, for them to be released for only a very short period of time,” he said. “It was a minute-to-minute procedure.”
The funeral for Younus was delayed due to a coronial inquiry and because of the complications in obtaining permission for his parents to attend.
– with Australian Associated Press