Sydney’s Muslim community has remembered the life of Ayaz Younus, an international student from Pakistan, by sharing stories about his hard work and charity.
The 25-year-old software engineer was on his way to a new job on 24 March when his car was engulfed by floodwaters at Glenorie, in the semi-rural outskirts of Sydney.
He called triple zero for help but it didn’t arrive in time.
His housemates Atta Sharifi and Imran Ahmad are still trying to comprehend their loss.
“This thing can’t be described in words, the pain and the grief can’t be described in words,” Mr Sharifi said.
“[Ayaz] was friendly to everyone, he always greeted everyone with a smile on his face. He was a helping and kind-hearted person.”
Mr Ahmad said Mr Younus’ death “hurts hard”.
“I spent most of the time with him, almost eight to ten hours a day. [I have] a lot of memories and now it hurts,” he said.
Mr Younus’ parents were granted special permission to fly from Pakistan to pay their final respects.
The couple landed on Friday and were allowed out of quarantine for two hours to attend Wednesday’s funeral at Baitul Huda Mosque in Marsden Park, with strict COVID-safe measures.
They were confined to a car for their son’s burial, forced to watch and film from a distance through a partially wound-down window.
Mr Younus’ father Muhammad was only briefly allowed outside the car to shovel some sand on his son’s coffin.
He spoke of how he wished the trip was under different circumstances.
“When I stepped out of Sydney airport, my eyes were looking for him. I wished he would have been there to welcome his parents,” he said in a pre-recorded message played at the mosque.
“I wished we could have hugged him once more. I wished we could have embraced him and kissed his forehead.”
Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Australia’s Mirza Ramzan Sarif helped organise visas for the parents.
He had hoped the whole family could be together, but Mr Younus’ siblings were denied a visa and instead watched a livestream from home.
“We are quite indebted to the immigration department, who worked in these tough times, in these COVID times, to get the visas and the parents here,” Mr Sarif said.
Stories were also shared at the funeral about Mr Younus’ community spirit.
The young man had organised for the mosque’s youth group to help with the flood clean-up, but he never made it.
“He was getting geared up with his gloves and boots to join the mud army,” Mr Sarif said.
“He was full of plans, full of life, [which is now] lost.”