Good Bye Izhar, You Expressed Love; Hope!
Our hapless Kashmir Valley is deprived of a gem; noble soul, humble being, humorist, matured man, seasoned journalist, good human being, well-wisher and a dear friend. Izhar Wani, we are hearing, is no more present amongst us in a physical sense. He has breathed his last on 4th of April, 2012, Wednesday at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, Srinagar. He was battling colon cancer.
Izhar – an Urdu word; which when roughly translated into English could mean to express and/or reveal. He revealed to us the secrets of honest, fearless and fair journalism. He expressed love and hope. I knew him as an optimist. He lived the name of his meaning.
My association with Izhar dates back to year 2001-02. I am grateful to Faisul Yaseen – my close companion, who acted as a conduit between Izhar and me more than a decade ago.
In my first ever interaction with Izhar, he made me so comfortable that I thought I knew him since ages. In the ‘colony of bullying tactics’ and ‘fraternity of egoists’, he greeted all young budding journalists with a broad smile. Unlike many others, he was not full of himself. Izhar commanded respect.
Izhar spoke less and delivered more. For him, it was always ‘less is more’.
Like me and Faisul, he too was a cricket enthusiast, adventurous and fond of winter sport. He was one guy you did not need a formal appointment to meet with. He was just a phone call or a casual message away. Even our surprise visits to his old office located at Polo View lane in Srinagar would make him happy. With a perennial smile on his divine face, he always offered help and valuable tips and suggestions, as a friend. He treated us as his younger brothers, not junior colleagues.
I remember it was July 2010. Izhar had uploaded some pictures of his two cute daughters, Saira and Saba. Those pictures were clicked at Harwan, Srinagar. I made couple of comments on the pictures, writing that his younger daughter seemed “naughty and mischievous” and the older one “very smart”. Izhar wrote: “….spot on….When they fight, Mohalla has to intervene.” We loved him as much as his wit and humour.
After hearing this tragic news about his demise, I feel shattered. I am checking all my previous e-mail conversations, chats and Facebook messages we shared and exchanged. It was December 2005 and I had sent him an e-mail to greet him on Eid. Regardless of importance, he seldom ignored e-mails from friends. He replied: “Thank you dear. May this year bring lots of happiness and contentment into your life! May your family prosper and may u [you] become the greatest of all so that people envy me saying ‘he is Izhar’s friend.’ regards and lots of love Izhar.”
He had friends all across the globe. It so happened that I got several opportunities to meet some of his friends and former colleagues in Europe. And believe me, Izhar would figure in our conversations for all the good reasons.
By his very nature, Izhar was a friend to all; enemy to none. But as a professional journalist, he also knew his role and responsibility well and delivered the goods. As special correspondent of the world renowned news agency – Agence France-Presse [AFP] – he made a name for himself. He was a proud Kashmiri.
I never visited his home. I did not meet his family members. I don’t know his date of birth. Yes, I know it was June 11, but frankly I have no idea about the year. Sadly, I know his date of demise now. This leaves a pang in my heart. I can’t claim to be one of his closest friends. But I knew him. He knew me too. That was enough. All I could tell you friends is that the best trait Izhar possessed was ‘do good and forget’.
Izhar, I don’t know whether I have met your expectations. I don’t know whether I have become the one you wanted me to. But I do know that people envy you, without me becoming great; for you possessed plentiful good qualities and wonderful traits.
Your family members, two cutest daughters, friends and colleagues will miss you. I will miss you. And I am sure that Kashmir will miss you too!
May God grant you an elevated place in the Heaven! Ameen!
Gowhar Geelani is a Journalist and writer.