My friend Nadeem and Navitus

imageThe last time I met Nadeem Chawhan was when he came to see me a few weeks ago. He brought an apple pie with him, but then decided not to eat any himself, as he was on an eating regime. Early this morning, Nadeem encountered the ultimate challenge in this life and faced death. I pray that he went with equanimity and peace. Inna lillahi wa inna elehi rajioon.

Our association goes back almost a decade. At the time when Engro Foods was launched, Nadeem and Farhad (Nadeems partner at Navitus) were heavily involved. Not only in the early motivational sessions, but later in the vision and values aspect for the new company. Still later, as we tried to bind the company culture within the vision and values agreed for the new company, Navitus was instrumental in disseminating these down the line at EFL. I remember a session in Sukkur in 2007, where we bonded well over karahi and cigarettes and had a lot of laughs together. Also remember, as part of our community work going out with him to paint the local Sukkur government school.

His style was free wheeling, a bit in the face and at the same time he spoke the local colloquial language. Hence he connected well with the sales and milk collection people. There were many a time, when Nadeem would play the clown on stage and connect with our sales employees. During these fun filled sessions, he found ways to pass on the basic motivational or ethical messages we wanted conveyed. And within this system, he would create aspirations for our employees to drive them on to greater performance.

That was the official side of Nadeem, as representing Navitus. There was the other side, which to me was personal and over the years had been a great part of our relationship. To him I was Guru and every now and then we would share philosophical sessions, when he was in Karachi for one of his work sessions. I would pick him up from the Navitus rest house and we would go for a meal. In the old days, he would eat his share, as befitted his ample bulk. Over many hours of random discussions, we would talk about the art of living, why we are here at all and also a lot of spiritual discussions on the way to live this life. Our gripe about the rat race was something which bound our thoughts together and we imagined a world where one only did aspirational work and money was not the issue.

At the back of both our minds was his health. A lot of discussions on cigarettes and also his tendency to be large. So it did not shock me when he took the procedure to reduce his stomach intake. Some months later, when we met on a trip to Islamabad, he was thin and the familiar bulk gone. While, it was sort of sad, yet one felt it was best under the circumstances.

In the twenty or so months, when I left Engro Foods, Nadeem, Farhad and Kamran (another partner friend) were still in touch. Never in these months did I feel that I was now not important in the scheme of things for my Navitus buddies. Though honestly speaking I was now peripheral to their business. So it was with a heavy heart that one heard that Navitus had now decided to split and that these friends of mine were parting ways. Navitus had been such an integral part of the EFL story, that this break up went heavy on us, as I am sure it did for the partners.

Sadly it does not matter anymore, as one of the participants has departed. I personally have no words except deep sadness. For one to depart so young and vibrant is one of Allah’s conundrum, which shall be resolved at a different time and in a different dimension. All one can say is that Nadeem will be sadly missed by many and I for one will remember my long discussions – which led nowhere – with him and pine for moments which cannot return.

Posthumously, I want to thank Nadeem for great times and inspirational ideas which helped us. Maybe the good depart early. May Allah grant him maghfirat and Jannah and may his young family sustain during these difficult times.

Advertisements

‘Desiderata’ requoted with Envy

imageThis poem has clenched my insides for long. Its an institution for generations, a potent way of living happy and long have I wanted to write just such a page. Since I cannot, so instead have printed the original by Max Ehrmann, written in 1927.~
+++

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious
to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter, for always
there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment;
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

©1927 Max Ehrmann

The image is from dreamstime.com

The Pharaoh’s daughters hairdresser

imageI write this story of the Pharaoh’s daughters hairdresser, to convey to my own mind (and to others) the difference which belief makes. It takes one from the ordinary to the extraordinary and while our mind tends to be trapped in the physical boundaries we have created, just sometimes we realise what eternity means. Allah says in the Quran, you will look back and feel I have but spent an evening and night here. But, you will realise that with deeds you can spend an eternity elsewhere. Maybe, also understand in physical comparisons, what eternity can mean.

I have taken the names out of this story, because it is irrelevant who were the specific parties involved. The Pharaoh in this case, had claimed being the ultimate deity, the power above all and represents gross evil. While, the slave hairdresser, who had secretly committed her faith to the one Allah, represents good and eternity.

One day, as this very hairdresser, combed the hair of the Pharaoh’s daughter, the heavy metal comb in her hand dropped and fell to the floor. Inadvertently the word Bismillah (in the name of Allah) came to her lips and she said it. The Princess on hearing this confirmed you ‘mean my father’? The hairdresser did not belittle her faith, and said, ‘No, my and your fathers Lord, the real Allah’. The Princess warned that she shall tell her father, but the hairdresser was calm and firm in her belief.

The news was conveyed to the Pharaoh, who was astonished that a lowly slave refused to recognise his being God. She was called to court, alongwith her children, one of whom was still at the suckling stage. The Pharaoh said to her, ‘who is your god’? And she said, ‘Allah is my lord’. He enquired ‘who is Allah’? She said ‘Allah is my god and yours’. Here was a slave, facing a great Pharaoh, cornered and forced to answer, and yet chose faith and belief. She could have taken the easy way out, gone home and repented to Allah. But No! Her faith rose above all that. This is no mean moment in mans history and it compares with many great ones.

They punished her and she remained firm. So finally oil was boiled and the Pharaoh threatened to burn her children and herself. As the children were dropped into the boiling oil, and the lady in mental agony prayed to Allah, Allah opened the curtains, allowed her to see the unknown and she saw her daughter smiling and saying we will be together in Jannah. Another account suggests that her infant actually spoke to her in encouraging terms and firmed up her belief. Whatever the case, lost in the realms of history, the lady did not utter a cry and remained firm. Finally when it came to her, she said to the Pharaoh, for this wrong promise me only one thing, that you will bury all our bones in one grave, so that we are together. I suppose in awe and admiration the Pharaoh promised this and so they were buried together.

This is where we, in our tiny worldly walls, begin to understand what eternity means. Over 2000 years later, the greatest person in history begins the most remarkable moment of his life, the Prophet (saw) flies towards Masjid Aqsa, on the night of the Mairaj, and as he flies over Palestine, he is near Egypt. And out of Egypt, comes a very pleasant fragrance. So he says, “O Jibreel! What is this pleasant fragrance?” And Jibreel replies “This is the fragrance of the hairdresser of the Pharaoh’s daughter and her children, in their grave.” SubhanAllah! For an eternity and continuing, this woman has achieved success and moreover has been mentioned in terms of admiration by the Prophet (saw).

Our lives and worldly deeds are worth a drop in an ocean, compared to what is to be achieved by our belief and faith. These moments of material ecstasy are tiny, worth little and the reality is elsewhere. No one will speak in admiration of a CEO or a Wall Street banker in 3500 years, but this paltry hairdresser lives on and creates inspiration millennia later.

May Allah guide us to faith. This write up is created after reading many accounts and I have not quoted the hadiths and various add ons. May Allah excuse me in case of any errors in this blog.

The picture is from dreamstime.com

%d bloggers like this: