Sisters Gulshan Dhanani

Family waits two decades for White Rock bench

It took more than two decades, but Gulshan Dhanani’s family finally has a dedicated place on White Rock’s waterfront where they can go to remember deceased relatives.

It took more than two decades, but Gulshan Dhanani’s family finally has a dedicated place on White Rock’s waterfront where they can go to remember deceased relatives.

Dhanani said she first requested a bench looking out over Semiahmoo Bay in 1989, when she was still living in White Rock. It was intended to honour her brother-in-law, Aneel Korde, who had died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 51.

City officials told her at the time that the wait would be a long one, the now-Bellingham resident said. Just how long, however, was a surprise.

“I wasn’t expecting 22 years,” Dhanani said, during a recent visit to the bench with two of her sisters, White Rock residents Maherun Faruki and Laila Korde.

While Marla Boos, administrative assistant for the city’s operations department, said a long wait for a waterfront dedication space is the norm, 22 years is “really unusual.”

“For the waterfront, there’s a waitlist, absolutely,” Boos said.

“Twenty-two years surprises me.”

Boos said she didn’t know why it took so long, as city records dating that far back are in storage. The most recent records show Dhanani’s request goes back to 2003, she said.

Dhanani and her sisters said they’re just happy everything has fallen into place.

Until the city’s phone call came, the family had all-but-forgotten about the request, and over the years, went on to mourn the deaths of three more family members – parents, Fatma (1997) and Hadimohamed (2000) Tejani, and a brother, Amir (2001). Two of the four are buried in New York; the parents lay together at a Vancouver cemetery.

“Now, we don’t need to go (to all the different burial sites),” Faruki said.

“We just remember them here,” Faruki said.

“Bring a rose or two,” Dhanani added.

When the news arrived, the family decided to honour all four of their loved ones’ final journey – described on the plaque as ‘Safari Ya Mwisho’ – at once, and to bring as many family members as possible together to do it.

At sunset July 9, a group of 70 – siblings, spouses, cousins, children and grandchildren, ranging in age from three months to 76 years – gathered at the bench, which was installed at West Beach.

They recited odes and prayers, and shared memories; children broke ornamental clay plates, and were showered with rose petals and perfumes.

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