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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye ...

{This is NOT the re-start of my getting back to blogging that I've been threatening you guys with. It's just a one-off. I had promised myself to get activated again by mid-May, once T2F was up and running ... and I still intend to keep to that target date. But I juat had to write this, despite the fact that my mind's in a tizzy.} Weddings - and all the events that surround it - are a bore for me. However, with increasing frequency, I seem to be attending as many as I can, in the hope of bumping into the decreasing list of friends & acquaintances and chatting about the moments and the memories we've shared. Tonight was going to be no different. A former seafaring colleague was hosting a Valima for his son. I just had to go. My friend and two of his inlaws - both of whom were also in the Merchant Navy - had invited me to all their children's weddings in the past and I'd missed the lot, being away in Dilli or Lahore each time. Among the sea of acquaintances I spotted an old friend (who happened, as I learnt later, to be visiting from Canada) and headed straight for him with just one thing in mind. I was trying to track the elusive blog commentator, Rayhan, who had suddenly popped into our blogs and , just as suddenly, had popped out again. Sabeen and a couple of others were convinced that Rayhan had lost interest after I stopped blogging, since Windmills seemed to be one of his favourite haunts. An odd mix of charm and abrasiveness, sensitivity and rudeness, Rayhan was always elusive and intriguing, especially in his comments about himself. We never really pinned down his identity. Just in one weak moment (or perhaps as part of a hidden desire to be recognized) he mentioned a cousin of his whose father had sailed with me and possessed some of my hazaliaat - bawdy and risqué humorous poems that were part of my sins of youth. I had sort of 'guessed' who that seafarer friend could be, but had lost touch with him for over 20 years. And there he was, today. The excitement he showed at seeing me after so long made me feel a bit guilty, since my excitement at seeing him was less about him than about trying to solve The Rayhan Mystery. I just had to find out if it was he that Rayhan had referred to, because (very vaguely) I recall giving him my diary from which he was to copy the poems and return the book. I never got the book back and since it was of no real value, never pursued it. Over years I either forgot about it or may have given it up for lost. Can't even remember which. As it turned out, my guess was right. Pipe in hand, the unmistakeable Erinmore fragrance drifting my way and carrying me back several years, I heard him say: Oh, yes, my bhaanjah (sister's son), was quite thrilled upon discovering your blog. He often chatted with my daughter and mentioned you and others in your group frequently. 'He loves to tease some of them', she used to tell me. Poor child. Bright. Brilliant. Good loooking. At least didn't suffer for long ... I was not sure whether in the excitement of my discovery I really did hear the last few words. But, just as I was about to begin asking about his whereabouts, from something akin to being the aural equivalent of peripheral vision, those terrifying words entered my consciousness. "What do you mean?", I asked, startled and hoping I'd misheard or misunderstood. "Yes," he said. "Finally could not keep up the fight. We are all pained and relieved." Don't know how long I remained silent and dazed. I then said - stammering, I am sure - "He did seem to mention a leg/foot disability, though never in very clear terms. What happened?" "Never mind what he died of, Zaheer," he said - rather abruptly, I thought. "He is gone. And he and his family are both at peace now." His daughter, meanwhile, had strolled towards us and was standing next to him. She said, softly, "He said you guys were responsible for the extra days he got. Especially someone he'd nicknamed '.exe' ..." ... And she broke into tears. Cryptic to the end, Rayhan? I don't know how I spent the next 30-odd minutes - but it was mainly sitting alone, far away from the crowd, torn between sobbing and feeling empty - until I got up and came away. I just had to blog tonight. I owe it to him.

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Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

Truth, as they say, can indeed be stranger than fiction.

I had the good fortune of witnessing some of the storms in comment-boxes that Rayhan often managed to whip-up and rather enjoyed the experience!

Meanwhile, I am eagerly awaiting the windmills to start running again.


28 April, 2007 02:20

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

28 April, 2007 02:38

Blogger Maleeha said...

Perhaps he was right in not having (or revealing) a blog of his own, because from his comments I had assumed him to be someone much older, and that usually results from knowing more than one should.

Still in a bit of a shock.

It seems cliched especially since he did not even have his own blog, but I will miss him.

28 April, 2007 02:40

Anonymous BeanZ said...

During all our moments of speculation, death never once crossed our minds. He brought so much color and texture into our little blogging community. Simply can't believe he's gone. When he disappeared, there was always this hope that he'd be back. Just can't get to grips with the fact that he's gone forever. WTF? Can't think of anything coherent to say; just deeply shocked and saddened.

28 April, 2007 09:55

Anonymous the olive ream said...

Deeply shocking news ZAK.

Rayhan manage to tick me off a couple of times too, but I did admire his tenaciously sharp wit.

My prayers go out to all his family and friends. For Rayhan, I pray for eternal peace.

28 April, 2007 18:29

Anonymous vintage said...

truth be told, there were moments when i wanted to kill him with my bare hands, but this is quite shocking. he did make blogsville a more interesting place. and yes he was cute.

i wish he could bug me about another comment that i'd post here.

in my break from blogging and from the blogging world, i thought that from zak's blog he'd have shifted to sabizak's.

28 April, 2007 18:39

Blogger MAHARAJADHIRAJ said...

I think it was the Amitabh-Rajesh Khanna starrer 'Anand' that had a similar story and the beautiful 'Zindagi kaisi hai paheli...' song to go with it.
After reading your post I was also reminded of a John Updike quote where he says something like... 'The best thing about dead people is that they make space'.
Great post! And more power to Rayhan wherever he may be now.

29 April, 2007 11:41

Blogger sarah said...

i'm sorry Zak...he sounds like such an interesting guy. i've just gone through a lot of your archives, to read his comments.

i think it's amazing though that you unknowingly gave him so much to think about and do, in possibly his last months and that he said that you guys were responsible for the extra days. that's such an beautiful compliment.

01 May, 2007 23:59

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What he propably wanted was to wake up this old ignorant wannabe "different" man.

I mean who writes "They laugh at me because I am different; I laugh at them because they are all the same."

You are not different, you are not unique, even your thoughts and opinions are just echoes of other people.

Stop the windmills, it is better to be quite and thought of as a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.


02 May, 2007 10:34

Blogger Maleeha said...

Anonymous, you should have taken your own advice and remained quiet. A blog post about someone's death is no place for you to throw a tantrum. All of us here obviously love Zak and your coming in here and leaving an infantile comment only makes you look stupid.

02 May, 2007 11:02

Anonymous Rahmat Masih said...

@ anonymous

this was an obituary not an obitchery. but judging by your spellings you wouldn't 'quiet' know the difference.

02 May, 2007 13:22

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch out folks its the dreaded spelling police.

I am just tryig to keep the spirit of Rayhan alive.

I am sure he woudl have agreed with my comments.


03 May, 2007 00:46

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

03 May, 2007 21:20

Blogger Insiya said...

the first time since tayyaba aunty's death that i just started crying... out of the blue.

i am so sorry to hear the loss of a great human being that none of us met, but all of us said a prayer for...

may his soul rest in Peace. and may God has a good enough sense of humor or Rayhan will be awfully bored! Amen.

05 May, 2007 21:50

Anonymous Anonymous said...


The conclusion dear is quite obvious. All one has to do is go back and read his comments.

Your wit however is scrapig the bottom of the barrel if all you can come back with is a "spelling correction".


06 May, 2007 01:22

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

06 May, 2007 07:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...


And it won't be the last. Our friend's getting on, too.


07 May, 2007 22:18

Anonymous BeanZ said...

Rayhan's death was tragic but he's left us and we have to move on. What's disgusting, and something we have to confront every damn day, is the lack of compassion, decency, and dignity of the human (?) race. Some of the comments on this post are callous and completely out of line. Freedom of speech doesn't mean that you say whatever the hell you want, whenever you want, without regard and respect - just because you bloody well can.

Rayhan was special for some of us. Could everyone else just leave us alone so we can grieve in peace?

08 May, 2007 00:09

Anonymous Sin said...

I obviously didn't know Rayhan at all, since I'm more of a post-lurker than a comment-reader, but that's truly tragic. I'm so sorry to hear about it.

21 May, 2007 22:58


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