Europe's biggest but not home - Husain's Family chooses fresh burial site under tree shade in surrey

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By AMIT ROY
  • Published 11.06.11
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Brookwood Cemetery (Surrey), June 10: M.F. Husain was buried today in Europe’s largest cemetery here, 40 miles from London’s West End and thousands of miles from his home in India.

Husain’s body, wrapped in a white shroud, was removed from a wooden coffin by his sons, Owais, Shamshad, |Shaffat and Mustafa, and placed in five-and-a-half-foot- deep grave.

The Indian government was represented by high commissioner Nalin Surie, who placed a wreath on the grave. A last-minute offer from the Indian government to repatriate MF’s body was rejected by the family.

The funeral was delayed by about two hours because the family objected to the burial spot that had initially been selected by the Brookwood authority. Another more scenic spot, under the shade of a tree, was chosen and a fresh grave speedily dug by the undertakers.

It took a while for the more experienced gravediggers to explain to MF’s sons how the body should be removed from the coffin and placed in the grave. It was Owais, the youn­gest, who jumped into the grave and eased his father, who died early yesterday at the Royal Brompton & Harefied hospital, into the final resting place.

Earlier in the day, namaaz was offered at a south London mosque, Idara-e-Jaaferiya, in Tooting, where many mourners called to pay their respects.

For a while, the coffin lid was removed. Then the cortege undertook the 90-minute journey in heavy London traffic to Brookwood, set in 500 acres of peaceful Surrey countryside.

The burial itself was a men-only affair and relati­vely brief. Everyone took turns to gently place fistfuls of freshly dug earth into the grave.

As the burial ended, the rain stopped and the sun came out. In all, there were about 40 men, mainly relatives and close friends.

The women, who also numbered around 40, were then invited to attend the graveside, place flowers on top and offer prayers.

Some were emotional as they placed red and yellow ro­ses on the heaped earth. Others scattered rose petals on top.

The funeral itself was a private affair but the mourners who came to Brookwood (but did not go straight to the burial) included Lakshmi Mittal and his wife, Usha, Gopi Hinduja and MF’s close friends Anwar Siddiqui and Yogesh Mehta.

Owais, who was very much at the centre of things, add­r­essed mourners at the end of the funeral. He said: “Thank you all very much for coming — there will be a memorial se­rvice tomorrow at the Dorchester Hotel (in London).”

Soon, the entire funeral party departed, leaving only the rabbits to come out and play in the cemetery.