SMRT worker's last message to dad
They were colleagues. Trainees who worked alongside each other at SMRT until an accident killed both of them on Tuesday. Yesterday, Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari were buried side by side, one after the other, at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery before some 500 relatives and friends.
He could not accept the news
That was the text message Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari sent to his father, who was performing his umrah pilgrimage with his wife and two younger children, last Friday.
It turned out to be his last.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Asyraf and his SMRT colleague, Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, were killed in an accident near Pasir Ris MRT station.
Mr Asyraf, the second of four children, had just turned 24 on Sunday and was part of a team investigating a reported alarm from equipment along the train tracks when the accident happened.
His father, Mr Ahmad Buhari, 61, who works multiple jobs, told The New Paper that on Tuesday (Singapore time), he was in Mecca when his wife felt something was off.
Umrah is a minor pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and can be performed at any time of the year.
Earlier that day, Mr Ahmad had received a text message from a distant relative saying his nephew had died.
But in the evening, he received a message from SMRT asking him where he was.
He said: "When I told them I was in Mecca, they sounded shocked. Then they asked for my eldest son's contact number so I gave it to them."
He then received a call from his eldest son.
"When I picked up, he wouldn't speak. So I passed the phone to my daughter.
"After speaking to him, she told me and my wife what happened," said Mr Ahmad.
He was confused and couldn't accept the news - until condolences from friends and family streamed in.
Struggling to hold back tears, Mr Ahmad said: "They told me repeatedly, 'It's your son, not your nephew. Your son'. That was when my wife collapsed in the hotel room."
Consulates in Mecca immediately arranged for his family's flight back to Singapore.
"All I wanted was to see my son for the last time before he was buried," he said.
His wish was granted and the family managed to fly back to Singapore, touching down at 1.45pm yesterday.
They got to Mr Asyraf's uncle's home at 2.30pm, just before Mr Asyraf's body arrived from the hospital.
By then, about 150 relatives and friends had gathered at the second-storey unit at D'Heritage Apartments in Chai Chee.
SMRT employees were also spotted in the crowd.
They joined Mr Nasrulhudin's family and friends at the Muslim cemetery in Choa Chu Kang for the burial yesterday.
Mr Asyraf's mother was shaking as she scattered flowers on both her son's and Mr Nasrulhudin's graves.
After the burial, Mr Ahmad said: "My son has always been a quiet person, so I didn't expect so many of his friends to show up.
"It's fate, so I accept it with an open heart. I hope everyone will keep, not only Asyraf, but Nasrul as well, in their prayers."
He was working to save up for school
It's easy to tell that Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, was excited about his new job at SMRT.
The Temasek Polytechnic graduate gave up a spot at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) for this job.
He got his uniform altered in Johor Baru so he could look smart at work.
Six days ago, he revived his inactive Instagram account with a picture of him and his band of brothers at work.
His brother, Mr Nasri Najumudin, 35, told The New Paper after the burial yesterday: "He was very excited because it was his first job after completing his national service with the police last August. He took his job seriously and was very committed...
"He wanted to work to get some experience and save some money for his studies at SIT."(Above) Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/NASRULHUDIN NAJUMUDIN
What made working at SMRT a bonus for Mr Nasrulhudin was being colleagues with his father and brother, Mr Nasri added.
He was also thankful because the job allowed him to conduct his prayers while at work, said his cousin Norshahida Saba, 31.
Ms Norshahida, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday night, said: "That was the first thing Nasrul told me about his job. He was a very religious person. He would advise the younger ones to follow the religious way... He was so happy (about the job) that he told his mum: 'This is the one for me'."
Calling him her little brother, Ms Norshahida said the two of them had bonded over their common goal of losing weight.
She saw the determination in her cousin who lost about 30kg.
Though he was younger than her, he was often encouraging her.
Mr Nasrulhudin's uncle Azman Ismail called his nephew a family man.
"He was well liked by nephews and cousins, and was also very good with kids..." he said.
After a pause, the 50-year-old said: "I can only think of good things about him... Without him, something's missing. We'll miss him a lot."
With investigations into Mr Nasrulhudin's death underway, Mr Nasri said the family will "just have to accept" the death, and wait for the full report to be completed.
"We just have to take it easy. Things have happened, and definitely all of us are very saddened," he said.
His mother, Madam Norizan Ismail, who is in her 50s, told TNP she does not blame anyone for her son's death.
"We have to let it go. It's all fated... It could have happened to anyone... (SMRT) said they will let me know when investigations are over, but they can't disclose anything yet. I'll respect that," she said, teary-eyed.
She said quietly: "I have to be strong for my son."
Relatives told TNP they hope investigations will eventually lead to stricter procedures in place.
Said Mr Azman: "There's no point (blaming) anyone. Things have happened... Two young lives were lost... If it's preventable, of course we want to make sure that it doesn't happen again so the lives were not lost in vain."