In a case of mistaken identity that could give any Bollywood potboiler a run for its money, a man taken for dead surfaced hours before his burial in the wee hours on Thursday.
Family members of Muhammed Ashraf got the shock of their lives when the 36-year-old walked into his Malappuram home amid preparations for his funeral.
On Tuesday, the family had received a call from a officer of Lucknow airport claiming that Ashraf, on his way home from Saudi Arabia, had died of cardiac arrest after alighting from an Air India flight at Lucknow from where he was to board a connecting flight to Kohzikode. The officer said his body would be sent via Delhi and arrive on Thursday.
The distraught family started making funeral arrangements and even dug his grave.
Ashraf, who has been working in Saudi Arabia for the last 11 years, was returning home after being arrested for overstaying in that country. He was handed out an out-pass and put on a flight to Lucknow. But after landing in Lucknow he lost his wallet. Without enough money to fly home, he had boarded a train to Chennai.
Meanwhile, the airport authorities mistook the body of an unidentified person at the airport to be that of Ashraf's after his purse was found near the body.
"Since I was deported, my passport was deposited with the immigration cell in Lucknow. The dead man may have found my lost purse," Ashraf said, unraveling the mystery. "I have no idea how such a goof-up could have happened."