In Memory of a Friend
This article is in memory of my friend Ashiq Rahman, who recently passed away in a tragic car accident at the age of 32. We frequently hear about deaths due to road accidents but never in my wildest nightmare did I imagine that I would one day lose a friend that way. Ashiq was a young and patriotic entrepreneur who loved his country. After graduating from a university in Malaysia, he moved back to Dhaka and opened a cafe in Gulshan known as “Art and Soul Gallery” where he not only served hearty meals but also tried to promote young aspiring artists. He was an avid sports fan and loved cricket.
I had known Ashiq for about 10 years since we first met in 2001. However, I had not heard from or spoken to my friend for some time. Now he is gone. You would think a goodbye would have made things easier, but even then I am sure it still would not have eased the shock and pain I felt when I heard the news of his death. I had always imagined that we would grow old together some day, we would meet somewhere many years later in the future, and have a good laugh about our younger days. However, life clearly had different plans for him. I had to accept that our time in this world is pre determined by the Almighty and once our purpose in the world is fulfilled He would take what was rightfully His.
The memories of Ashiq simply take me back to a time when life's pleasures were simple and innocent. I first heard from Ashiq when I was eighteen years old. In the summer of 2001, I received an anonymous phone call from a random boy who just called and asked me what my name was. I was agitated and told him that he was the one who called and unless he told me his name or knew my name I would hang up the phone. He told me his name and that he had found my phone number in a piece of paper lying on his desk (implying that I or one of my friends must have given it to him). Now that I think about it, it seems like it was quite a lame line to use on a girl! Well, those were the days when prank calling was still common and when it was safe. So I enquired around and called him back making up another line and telling him that I had heard that he was an 'IT expert' and I had trouble with my internet connection. I knew this was lame too but to my surprise he played along for a while and later we just burst out laughing. There was something about our conversation that bonded us overnight and we ended up talking for hours. We were young and carefree and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. We used to spend a lot of time together, talking, going out to play pool, eating out, playing cards till dusk, and going on drives around the city.
Everyone knew Ashiq to be a kind and reliable person; someone who would help you when in need. He was family oriented and compassionate. I remember fondly lunches at his place and how much he loved his grandmother's cooking. He loved being around people and getting to know them. He knew my family well and was friends with my cousins. Even when I was away studying in London, he would go meet my mother and spend time with her. He was the kind of person who would see my driver walking in the road and feel the need to drop him home in his car. It was as if, helping someone or doing a good deed was never burdensome.
I will never forget the night he surprised me at Gulshan Club on New Years Eve 2002. It was late, and my friends and I were all going home. I was on the phone with him and almost leaving when he told me he would not be able to make it. Well, what do you know? When I turned around, he was standing right there in front of me with a huge smile on his face. He loved to surprise people and doing little things like that to make others happy. So obviously, he would not take “no” for an answer and that night invited me and all my friends to his house promising us that we would get to meet his elder sister's cute male friends. By the way, none of the cute male friends ever showed up that night. I bet they did not even know about it.
He was full of life and every single moment with him was an adventure. I remember the day when he and I spent hours in the balcony of his house trying to make clay pottery. It turned out to be a disaster because all we ended up doing was flooding the balcony. I remember the shock on his mother's face when she walked in on us. What a mess we had made!
That was a long time ago. Today, I realise that even though so much time has passed since we met those memories are still so vivid in my mind. I last saw him two years ago at Aarong. He had grown up and was working. He seemed so mature and happy and I could not be happier for him. It has been almost ten years since the day I made that phone call. I am so lucky that I did. Because of that, today I have so many memories to hold close to my heart. And that is how I will always remember him.