By: Tariq Rather
December 13: One of my friends Khurshid, a graphic designer with Uncle Advertisers, informed me that Arshad Malik of Kanwal Foods & Spices is no more. I got furious with him for kidding. He said he is not joking.
I told him, ‘we met just 13 days back and talked for at least an hour near DPS Srinagar. I know death is destined but I was unable to reconcile. All my sympathies are with the bereaved parents and other family members.
December 01: After parking my vehicle, I walked inside DPS School to collect examination papers of my son, a Class 7 student. Arshad was there to collect papers for Term 2 final examination for his son. I saw him coming out after collecting the same for his son, a Class 8 student.
After not so long time we just saw each other and had friendly hug. But I was disturbed to see that he had gained weight and become bulky. His eyes, beneath spectacles, were swollen, tummy out and all his body in a swollen shape.
I know his job profile demands him to remain seated for longer hours. He hardly had any time to go for regular walks or workout.
While he informed me about his heath related issues, I told him about my recent near death experience, when I suffered Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) followed by Pulmonary Thrombo Embolism (PTE). He expressed shock and tendered apology for not calling me or meeting me. In fact, I hadn’t informed him or any of my friends, except a few.
In the meanwhile we discussed many issues concerning Kashmiris. From our political situation to current phase of unrest, we discussed almost everything.
We discussed the rationale of Vijay Dhar’s decision to re-open DPS from December 3, while students had to finish Term 2 exam at home.
The exploitation and highhandedness of DPS management was the core issue we discussed. As he had some important assignment at office, he excused not to be part of proposed talk with Dhar or Principal Mrs Kusam Warikoo.
Later, a large group of parents had heated argument with Dhar, who was forcibly brought to school to meet angry parents. Same day, I along with a group of parents (after getting cold response from Vijay Dhar) briefed media at Press Enclave about DPS management’s arbitrary decision to re-open school without progression of students in next classes.
Arshad also wrote about bad state of affairs in DPS management in an online magazine. He informed me about his piece, requesting anonymity.
Arshad and I used to discuss the state of affairs in Kanwal Foods, his employer. At a number of occasions, we would discuss about Kanwal’s progress. After we were done talking, I offered Arshad to drop him at his office near Hyderpora.
He refused saying he was riding a scooty. I was stunned. Given his health condition riding a scooty in winters was not a good decision.
As usual, I requested Arshad to quit smoking. But once again he neglected it. I know he was a heavy smoker. I feel Arshad suffered massive heart attack due to smoking, although death is destined.
Arshad would remain engrossed in his work at Kanwal Foods while looking for latest trends in business promotion and branding. He was a serious thinker and concerned about stable and safe future of our younger generation.
He would always smile and laugh to feel lighter given the hectic routine of life. Simplicity was his style. With command over communication, Arshad would write straight in his weekly column “Straight Curve”.
One of my best friends, and a senior journalist Khursheed Wani told me he was impressed by Arshad’s writing style.
Khursheed wanted to meet Arshad but death came in between. He was the voice for poor and subjugated people, whose issues he would highlight in his weekly column.
At times Arshad would beat his chest as proposals, often intellectually sound and professionally relevant, get rejected Despite, such small incidents Arshad was committed to his job as an employee. I am sure his death has left a deep void in Kanwal. Arshad was always keen to help make lives of employees in Kanwal better.
A great facilitator, Mushtaq & Hilal, one of the distributors with Kanwal, recall how Arshad helped them becaome part of the group.
An alumnus of Kashmir University’s Media Education Research Centre (MERC), Arshad was a born journalist, commentator and writer.
Arshad worked with English daily ‘Kashmir Images’ and ‘New Hope’ magazine and other print media organizations during his early years in career. However his writing in Kashmir Life reflected his inner thoughts. He was clear about the political future of Kashmir. He understood the pulse of common people like nobody else. But he was always magnanimous to accommodating others’ viewpoint.
I am still to comprehend the loss and the void that Arshad’s death has left in my life. I am at loss how to console his teenage son.
I firmly believe that Arshad’s good deeds would earn him a place in Jannah and his family will remain in peace by virtue of his great good deeds. I am pained by the thought, how Arshad’s aged father would have shouldered his son’s coffin. In last three decades we have come across hundreds of father’s shoulder their young son’s coffins. The pain would be enduring for the bereaved. May Allah bless them all.
(Author is posted as Assistant Director News and presently works as All India Radio Correspondent for AIR, New Delhi)