Placed against a tree outside the iconic Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kodungallur, a coastal town in Kerala’s Thrissur district, is a white board with a message that starts with two words in English: “Ineffable gratitude.” The rest of the message is in Malayalam: “For consoling a community, for giving hope and for being a model for the world, thanks.”
On Monday, over 11,000 km from Christchurch, where 50 people were killed in a blaze of gunfire inside two mosques on March 15, India’s oldest mosque and its faithful bowed in respect — to New Zealand, for bearing the tragedy with fortitude, and its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, for showing the way.
It was the day Kodungallur received the body of Ancy, 23, who died in the shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch. It was also the day she was buried at the Cheraman masjid, which is said to have been built in 629 AD.
After the burial, for which over hundred mourners had gathered, Imam Saifudeen Al Kasimi said: “This is not just a mayyath namaz (funeral prayer). It is a gathering against terrorism, extremism and racist fascism… God, let there be peace with the people of New Zealand and its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern always. Let God give that country the strength to overcome this crisis. Let us pray for that nation, which kept the victims of the attack close to its heart.’’
Ancy had gone to New Zealand last year to pursue a diploma in agricultural engineering after completing her graduation in Kerala. She was one of the five victims from India; her husband P Abdul Nazer, who works at a store in Christchurch, escaped unhurt. At the condolence meeting, the mosque committee president Dr Muhammed Sayeed said: “We are sad that our Ancy is gone. But we have no reason to be desperate, because she became a martyr for a genuine, positive cause. This incident has shown how a nation (New Zealand) should behave towards its people. We salute that country.’’
Ancy’s husband Nazer, who had seen the attacker spray bullets inside the mosque, stood motionless. He had reached Kodungallur a day before his wife’s body arrived, along with a relative who works in New Zealand. Today, Nazer stepped back, leaving Ancy’s uncle Noushad K I, a trader in Kodungallur, to do the talking. “After Ancy’s father died five years ago, she was the hope of the family — her mother and a younger brother. She got married two years ago, and was to complete her diploma course next month. She had shared her happiness with her family recently… that she would soon get a job to support them. Now, everything is gone,’’ Noushad said.