A reflection of Yemeni unity in real lifeMohammed Abu Talib [Archives:2005/845/Opinion]

May 26 2005

Quite often, when any known dignitary passes away, we see all the papers filled with condolences and regrets (at government or company expense of course), but we never really get the gist of why this person or that person would deserve such sorrow. The truth of the matter is that there are many people who really leave great mark, not on government records, or the obituary pages of newspapers. When these people pass away, one sees the expressions of sorrow and grief spread far and wide and throngs of people rush to the mosque and cemetery to take part in the last rites for the deceased, not because they want to be sure that they were seen in public to express their grief. When literally thousands of people amass to pay their last tributes to a person, who could have easily been awarded top political positions or management status, one asks what did this man do to attract so much feeling of grief and sorrow across all the divisions that make up our society.

Mohammed Ali Abu Talib passed away last Thursday at the age of 64 leaving no great war record, or political achievements or even substantial wealth. Mohammed Ali Abu Talib left with a legacy that remains imprinted in the hearts of all who love him because of so many little things that only matter to the eyes of the beholder, but have such a lasting impact. They remain with the beholder long after the passing of the soul. They are etched deep in the heart and the minds of all those who love him and feel in their heart and soul that a very big and important part of their lives has been taken away from them.

Mohammed Ali Abu Talib never rose to the position of prominence that he perhaps rightly deserved, but Mohammed really never really needed a Republican Decree to have his place marked in history or the opening editorial of Al-Thoura Magazine. Mohammed Abu Talib had found his won unique way of getting to the hearts of multitudes of people by his unique character and fair mindedness. He was accorded positions that gave him just enough public exposure that put him in the limelight of the public domain, without having the need for a caravan of guards and accompanying entourage. Even if they had been given to him, Mohammed Abu Talib would have refused such meaningless extravagance. Besides, people of the courage and charisma of Mohammed Abu Talib would have no need of guard escorts. For one thing, people like Mohammed Abu Talib have always recognized that death is an inevitable phenomenon no matter how many divisions you have guarding your sleep at night. If God's will says you are to die by a bullet, then let it be and save the public treasury millions of Riyals, because that bullet would get to you anyway. That is one of the things the observer remembers coming out of the open mind and broad perceptions of Mr. Abu Talib.

Anyone who worked with Mr. Abu Talib, or had a chance to engage with him in his professional capacity cannot forget that wherever Abu Talib worked, things somehow seemed to work out. In meetings, he will give the proper alternatives that could bring about YR millions of savings or help avoid a long drawn out case of arbitration. Even foreigners, who knew Mr. Abu Talib never forget the impressions he left with them, when he came to visit their countries on official visits or when they came here on missions for the agencies they worked. This observer recalls going to greet delegation after delegation of foreign visitors and dignitaries, and their first question would be: Where is Mr. Abu Talib and how is he doing?

Career wise, Mr. Abu Talib, was like most sincere and honest professional civil servants, was bound to confront the challenges of facing arrogance and narrow interests in officialdom. Yet, he stood firm and never let these matters present a major worry for him. With all his political connections, he never even bothered to seek support for his case, because feared that people would suspect he had a vested interest of some kind if he was so adamant in holding on to a certain position.

Socially, Mr. Abu Talib crossed all the ethnic, religious, sectarian and economic lines. He simply was able to get along with all the different segments that make up our society. He can walk into any qat session and within minutes, he would be the center of attention of all those present. Whether the gathering is of tribesmen and farmers meeting to solve a depute over land, professionals seeking a solution to a technical problem confronting a project, or merchants seeking to resolve a partnership dispute, Mr. Abu Talib not only took part in the discussions with meaningful suggestions, but gave the meeting a delightful pleasant aura that turned faces of anguish and even anger to faces of relief and satisfaction that indeed life's difficulties can sometimes be cured by a nice joke here and there or a recounting of similar situations with pleasant anecdotes that somehow breaks all the barriers of conflict. Problems can indeed be solved if people just looked at each other with a pleasant attitude and a fervent desire to seek logical and meaningful solutions to the problems at hand. If he became a friend, one can be sure that he meant that friendship to be a brotherhood!

Family wise, Mohammed Abu Talib was the first person to attend any occasion of his relatives from the first day on to the last. Whether it was a wedding or a funeral, he would be there to give the occasion a lasting imprint on the family's social records. He was also a person who believed in the strength of families. When his brother died prematurely of a cancer ailment, he married his brother's wife and took his children and reared them as if they were his own. He also looked after his other deceased brother's children in the same way as a father would. His heart had no limitations for carrying out family obligations and sought to ensure that no evil touched his family, in its extended form The Abu Talib clan is a big one, but he was the guiding torch to which all in the clan would look to for help in keeping the family free from squabbles and conflict. They will never forget the honesty and commitment to safeguarding the endowment of the Grande Mosque of Rawdha, which was under his trusteeship.

May God bless his soul, and may people look at him as a lasting shining example of the values and traits that we all cherish.