In Allah’s hands
“I’ll come back; I’ll come back,” Mohamad Sharib Bin Mohamad Ali Miah, 22, assured his mother, Zahidah Begum Binti Ali Miah, before taking off for a swim in Medina Lake near San Antonio, Texas. Those were the last words he spoke.
On July 4, 2017, the refugee Rohingya family living in San Antonio, Texas, decided to spend time relaxing and celebrating Eid - The holy day that concludes the Islamic month of Ramadan. What was meant to be a happy day turned bitter. Mohamad Sharib accidentally drowned in the lake that afternoon.
In the 1980s, a huge group of Rohingya families were displaced from Myanmar. Among them were Zahidah, her husband, Mohamad Ali Bin Sultan Ahmed, and their daughter. The couple decided to move to Malaysia after that. Zahidah’s family flourished; days turned to months and months to 23 years. Their small family grew from a household of three to seven as they adjusted to life in Malaysia.
On August 22, 2015, the family was given the opportunity to move to the United States. They embarked on a new journey once again, this time with their two youngest sons. And within a year of moving to San Antonio, Texas, her third daughter moved to San Antonio with her husband and two toddler sons. “I had found new happiness; this became a home,” Zahidah said.
Life was good until Tuesday, July 4, 2017.
It was an ordinary day in Zahidah’s household. She was awake by 6 a.m. to make breakfast and tea for her oldest son, Mohamad Shabrib before he left for work. Her husband, Mohamad Ali, had his day off, and Zahidah’s younger son, Mohamad Emran’s was on summer vacation.
By noon, Sharib was back home. He told Zahidah that the factory gave him the rest of the day off “for a national holiday.” Unwilling to spend his day off at home, Sharib convinced his family to have a belated Eid picnic at Medina Lake, 55 miles north of San Antonio.
Midway through the journey, Zahidah did not want to go to the lake anymore. “I was feeling sick,” she said. “I didn’t realize it was that far.” But she conceded for her children.
The day was hot, and the water was cool. Mohamad Sharib wanted to go for a swim. He placed his belongings with his mother – shoes, clothes, camera, sunglasses, and car keys. Moments later, Mohamad Sharib jumped off the pier into the water.
There was disjointed chaos when the family realized Sharib was in trouble. Mohamad Ali noticed his son’s fingers on the surface of the water. And immediately dove into the water to save him, but he could not locate his son.
Neighboring holidaymakers sensed the emergency of the situation and called 911 since the Rohingya family did not speak any English other than Sharib.
After a two-hour search, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recovered his body. “Sharib will never come back. It is what Allah wishes,” Zahidah said.