Heart attack pilot’s family leaves Qatar with mixed emotions

March 31, 2011

Farayal with her two children - The Peninsula

Farayal Kukreja, the widow of a Qatar Airways pilot who died of a heart attack while flying a passenger aircraft from Manila to Doha in October 2010 is leaving Qatar with her two children to join her relatives in Goa.

“There hasn’t been a single day when we have not talked of him or hugged each other and cried in his memory,” Farayal was quoted in the Qatari daily The Peninsula.

Her entire world collapsed five months ago when she learned that her husband, Captain Ajay Kukreja, had died mid-flight while flying to Doha.

Qatar Airways had diverted its Manila-Doha flight to Kuala Lumpur after Ajay complained of chest pain. The co-pilot flew the plane – Flight No. QR645 with roughly 260 passengers on board – to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for emergency landing.

Though a medical team was kept ready on the ground, the pilot was declared dead after the flight landed at KLIA.

“Initially every thing was blurred…. we were so close during the 15 years of our marriage – Ajay, me and our two children. He went leaving a huge vacuum,” Farayal was quoted as saying by the daily.

Feelings of grief can be devastating, frightening and a test of a person’s faith and ability to cope, Farayel said.

“I was left alone with my our little children who are in Grade 8 and 6. We did not feel at home here anymore. I was grappling to come to terms with the loss of my husband and the void it had created. I was afraid to face the future alone. But if I broke down, my children would be helpless,” she said.

Her initial fears were compounded by rumours that they would be repatriated to India by the Qatari authorities before all matters were settled.

“It was a rumour, but it aggravated my worries and insecurity. However, what I experienced later was something totally different,” she said.

“I was never alone as friends and family were with me all along – friends were my family here. Qatar Airways made sure that I had its total support and help. There was not a single day that I picked up the phone with no one to answer me. I always had an Arabic translator while going to offices and courts for various issues. They even sponsored me until the end of my children’s academic year. All throughout there was the same courtesy, politeness, concern and willingness to lend me a helping hand.”

Farayal said she was grateful for all the support, courage and hope that Qatar provided.

“I felt the goodness of the people and the country that I had earlier not known. My gratitude goes to Qatar and the airline company for all they did for a despairing and helpless family that can now live with its head held high.

“For the children, the fact that they do not have their father with them is difficult. They are scared. I have explained the situation to them and they are learning. Their minds are confused. My top priority is to let my children settle in a new place, a new school and new friends.

“I will give my children the best education, send them to the best university and nurture them to be the good human beings that Ajay and I had always wanted,” she told the daily.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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