Teenager on sub takes Rubik’s Cube to break record, mother tells BBC

Teenager Suleman Dawood, who died in the Titan submersible, took his Rubik’s Cube with him because he wanted to break a world record, his mother had told the BBC.

The 19-year-old applied to the Guinness World Records and his father, Shahzada, who also died, had brought a camera to capture the moment.

Christine Dawood and her daughter were on board the Polar Prince, the sub’s support vessel, when word came through that communications with the Titan had been lost.

“I didn’t comprehend at that moment what it meant – and then it just went downhill from there,” she said.

In her first interview, Mrs Dawood said she had planned to go with her husband to see the wreck of the Titanic, but the trip was canceled because of the Covid pandemic.

“Then I stepped back and gave them space to set [Suleman] up, because he really wanted to go,” she said.

As well as Suleman and his father Shahzada Dawood, three other people died on board: Stockton Rush, the 61-year-old CEO of OceanGate which owned the Titan, British businessman Hamish Harding, 58, and Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 77, a former French navy diver and renowned explorer.

Speaking of her son, Mrs Dawood said Suleman loved the Rubik’s Cube so much that he carried it with him everywhere, dazzling onlookers by solving the complex puzzle in 12 seconds.

“He said, ‘I’m going to solve the Rubik’s Cube 3,700 meters below sea at the Titanic’.”

Suleman was a student at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, in the UK. Businessman Shahzada Dawood, who was British, was from one of Pakistan’s richest families.

The family, including daughter Alina, 17, boarded the Polar Prince on Father’s Day.

Mrs Dawood said they hugged and made jokes in the moments before her husband and son boarded the Titan submersible.

“I was really happy for them because both of them, they really wanted to do that for a very long time,” she said.

Mrs Dawood described her husband as infectiously curious about the world around him – the kind of person who made the family watch documentaries after dinner.

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“He has this ability of childlike excitement,” she said.

Mrs Dawood and her daughter stayed on board the Polar Prince as the search and rescue mission shifted from hopeful to desperate.

“I think I lost hope when we passed the 96 hour mark,” Mrs Dawood said.

She said that’s when she sent a message to her family. “I said: ‘I’m preparing for the worst.’ That’s when I lost hope.”

Alina held out a bit longer, she said. “She didn’t lose hope until the call with the Coast Guard. When they basically informed us that they found debris.”

The family returned to St John’s on Saturday, and on Sunday held a funeral prayer for Shahzada and Suleman. Mrs Dawood said she was touched that the Imam said a prayer for all five of the men killed.

Mrs Dawood said she and her daughter would try to learn to finish the Rubik’s Cube in Suleman’s honor, and she intends to continue her husband’s work.

“He was involved in so many things, he helped so many people and I think I really want to continue that legacy and give him that platform… it’s quite important for my daughter as well.”

Mrs. Dawood declined to discuss the ongoing investigations into the tragedy. But when asked how she and her daughter would find closure she said: “Is there such a thing? I don’t know.”

“I miss them,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I really, really miss them.”

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