Born: January 16, 1975
Died: December 13, 2016
By: Tabish Rafiq Mir
“I had been at peace, resting for a long time in my own charismatic world of opinionated dialectics, away from the humdrum of life around me and all that for a purpose which is that I am disturbed enough to be disturbed anymore, till something unusual happened. All the time I refer to I would sleep dreamlessly or perhaps there was no recall of my dreams when I woke up but I am more certain on the previous axiom that I did not have dreams at all. All this dreamlessness was quite painful for I always would wonder why I don’t have any dreams but then the acute tensions existent between my inner and outer self, the man inside and the world outside would mince my concerns to a point of non-existence.” – An excerpt from “Terrified” by Arshid Malik.
Arshid Malik, the consulting editor (honorary) at the Kashmir Life newspaper passed away on December 13, 2016.
He started his schooling at the Kamla Nehru School, Nowhatta. He was a child prodigy. He was constantly awarded for his expertise in the Hindi language by the government of India.
He would always top till Class 8, when he had to leave school because of some complications. Things changed after that and he went to the New Era public school in Rajbagh. He studied in this school for two years. Here again, he bagged first division, first class. During this time, besides his pertinent subjects, he would write stories for books and got several awards for that, as well.
“As a child, he always wanted everything clean and immaculate. We had to keep 3 sets of uniforms for him because he wouldn’t wear the same one the next day. Even his tie had to be ironed,” said Ali Mohammad Malik, his father.
For high school, he joined the S P College as a medical student. He passed out with first division, and first class. Throughout his life, he never indulged in any sports himself.
When he wrote his entrance exams, he missed the admission to Kashmir University (KU) by 5 points. His father did not give him a hard time and asked him to prepare again and clear it the next year. Arshid had other plans, though.
He did a computer science course from ApTech Computer Education and won a gold medal in the same.
After the success at ApTech, when he applied in KU, he got through to Law and Mass Communication.
He chose mass communication because this gave him an opportunity to write as a journalist, his dream since childhood. He graduated from the KU with a post graduate degree in Mass Comm.
After graduation, he went to Mumbai and did another course in computer sciences. When he returned to Kashmir, he started his own institute where he would teach the subject to the students. But it didn’t work as expected and he went back to his original passion of writing.
After that, he worked as an editor for Hope Magazine, which had writers from all over India.
When he stopped working for the magazine, he claimed to have been disinterested by the interference of politics in free writing. He resumed his computer institute, which didn’t work well again.
Done with the institute, he wanted to go back to writing for newspapers. He joined Kashmir Image, under editors Basheer Manzar and Raouf Rasool. For a long time, he worked there as an assistant editor.
During his time at Kashmir Image, there had been a militant attack at the office. One of his friends got injured while he narrowly escaped. His friends from the university approached him and asked him to work at the Kanwal group as the manager of administration. Later, he was instated as the Public Relations Officer and then as the general manager.
Meanwhile, he was writing a weekly column for Kashmir Life. He was the consulting editor and used to write under the opinion column called Straight Curve.
He married a woman of his own likeliness. She understands me, and I understand her, he had said. The marriage wasn’t agreed upon by all. So, with the help of his colleagues and friends from the media, a very simple marriage was arranged at an apartment in Tulsi Bagh. With a select group of friends, a Moulvi, and family, the Nikah was carried out.
“He was a soft-spoken noble soul. He used to think a lot, and that showed in his speech, which was rare. Whenever I guessed that he was depressed, I would call him to the office. He never said no to anyone, and wanted everyone to be happy with him. He was very sensitive,” said Farooq Amin, director, Kanwal Foods and Spices Pvt. Ltd.
“He was a victim of sporadic spells of depression. He would think about his family, work, and about the crimes of humanity… mostly about the crimes of humanity. Whenever he went under such a spell, he would shut down for days at a stretch. He wouldn’t attend calls and would do odd jobs to keep him busy. He would go on long walks or long cycling rides.”
During the last few months, he was mostly idle and he hated every minute of it. He couldn’t wait to get back to work. “A week ago, he had asked me to resume work at the Hyderpora office,” recalls Amin.
Arshid wanted to finish everything on time and has never procrastinated on anything. He worked hard and stayed back in the office most days, and never left without finishing his work.
He was a chain smoker and used to smoke more than forty cigarettes a day, and yet a lot of his colleagues never knew about it. He would rarely smoke in front of them. For his upper throat congestion, and chest pain, he had visited a doctor three times and taken the medicine for the same. All his tests had shown out fine. He would get these violent hand tremors, too. “I would always ask him to stop smoking,” said Amin.
On the morning of his demise, he had taken a leave from the office. “Whenever he took a leave from work, I would know he is not doing well and wants to relax,” said Amin. “Nobody would have guessed that it was his last day.”
“He left early and said he would get medicine and then probably go to the office if he feels better. When he came back home, he slept for a while. He was with his child. He had tea. Tea was his favourite beverage and he would consume it every 30 minutes,” said his father.
“Around 2.30 pm, Arshid’s son, scared, came running to me and said, “Daddy is not talking”. I ran to the room and saw my son lying flat on the ground. I called the ambulance which took 45 minutes to reach. By the time we managed to get him to the hospital, he was already dead,” he added, failing to hold back his tears.
Arshid was always concerned about his family and his kid. One day, when we stayed up late talking in the office, he said “My son cannot sleep alone. I have to go.” He was a great father and a very loyal employee.
When he wasn’t depressed, he was someone who would make things possible. “Even though he seemingly knew everything under the sun, he would never make anyone feel inferior. He would always be ready to help,” said a friend who worked with him for more than ten years.
He had done all he could for everyone he knew, but when it came to caring about himself, he wasn’t very enthusiastic. He never got a passport for himself. He never travelled beyond India.
He was a man of peace. He was disturbed by violence, by the killings in Kashmir. When the schools were shut down, he would express his grief over the loss of this precious time in the lives of young students to his close friends.
He was crazy about electronics, especially computers. He was a tech-savvy, and he just had to get his hands on every latest high-end gadget, be it a phone, or a laptop. He used to spend a lot on that. In fact, he used to spend on everything.
One day, a friend saw a very simple painting in his office. Earlier that day, Arshid had gone to an orphanage and purchased that painting for Rs 10,500. He said he didn’t want anyone to be discouraged, says his friend.
Arshid was ahead of his time. His writing was contemporary, yet he connected the threads of life to the past. He put his soul on the paper, and he lived a life in the skies.