The heart-wrenching final conversation over a phone between two childhood friends left many in tears.
Struggling to hold back tears, 33-year-old Monu Aggarwal said that the call made by his childhood Musharraf Ali as he was choking to death in the Anaj Mandi fire was recorded “by chance”. The telephonic conversation was later aired on television news channels and shared on social media.
As he gave up on life surrounded by toxic smoke, Ali had asked Aggarwal to take care of his family — his elderly mother, wife and two children aged below eight — after his death.
On Monday (December 9), Aggarwal accompanied Ali’s mother to Delhi to claim his body.
Asked if he intentionally recorded the phone call, Aggarwal said, “I never recorded our conversation. It happened by chance. I believe my finger touched the recording button while I flipped open the phone cover. I only got to know about it through a notification after the call ended,” Aggarwal said.
Hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district, Ali and Aggarwal weathered good and bad times together. “Our houses are in the same lane. We would talk for hours, discuss everything under the sun. We stood by each other through thick and thin,” he said.
“Musharraf was more than my brother. Religion never came between us. On Eid, his family would host me. On Diwali, I would do the same,” he recalled.
“His children are my children now. I did not get married because of personal reasons. Maybe god kept me unmarried because he knew these children would need me,” he said, trying to hold back tears.
Aggarwal said he lost his father when he was just eight years old and knows the pain of children who do not have a father.
But he wondered how cruel can fate be. “Ali was born after his mother suffered nine miscarriages. He was their only son. His father died six months ago… He was on leave and came to Delhi on Friday,” he said, clasping his hands together.
“I have a small business. I do not wish for riches. I pray to god to give me enough to feed the two families. I will adjust anyhow. I will do all that I can till my last breath,” Aggarwal, who runs a small cookware store in Bijnor’s Nagina area.
Aggarwal turned away to hide his tears when he recalled how on Ali’s ‘nikah’, he got late in reaching the venue which made Ali upset. “He didn’t eat till I reached the venue,” he said.