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April 1, 2020

My Boss, the invincible

Top Story

April 1, 2020

It is not often in life that you cross paths with people who appear so invincible – even indestructible – that the mere thought of them passing away, rattles you to the core. Yes, ‘rattled’ can best encapsulate what Mir Javed Rahman’s employees felt when the news, first reached us.

Tall, imposing with a robust built, Mir Javed was a man you never wanted to cross. His presence was such which demanded to be acknowledged by default, whichever room he strolled into. His silver Cartier spectacles framed sharp, beady eyes, which many claimed could scan you and detect lies or treachery far beyond their visual radius. Appearances can be deceiving, or in this case misleading. Because the most feared man in the main Jang building had the biggest and kindest heart. His episodes of wrath and anger were much talked about, but more than anything, it was his unending generosity and kindness which moved many. For those who revered and admired him, seeing his stern disposition break into a lazy sphinx-like smile held rare prestige.

The news unleashed upon me with segues of unending memories of him, from the first meeting down to the last encounter.

Rewinding three years back, I still recall sitting across from him timidly for the job interview that would begin my association with Jang Group. He befuddled me with a question many before me had been subjected to. “Apka star kya hai?” What is your astrological sign? “Sir, Capricorn,” I had replied. He pondered over it for a long while after. I was later told that Javed Sahab fostered a keen insight and interest of the astrological signs and their undeniable influence on people. I also learnt later that he harboured a dislike for Capricorns, and I might just have been an exception. A Leo himself, he loved Aquarius’s he once confessed to me because his sister who he lovingly called “Mithi” had the same astrological sign.

In my second week to work a tragedy had befallen on my family; my mother passed away. I took leave from work for just three days to serve the soyam period, after which I resumed office, alerting curious eyes but honestly I just wanted to bury my grief into new-found work. I vividly remember that afternoon, when he caught the entire team off-guard, entering office with muted footsteps and booming, “Attiya Abbass kaun hai?” I timidly stood up, so did the entire team. He wandered in, sat next opposite me on a vacant chair and asked me about my mother. Tenderness leaked into his voice, which surprised me. Right there, on the spot he called upon the team to take a moment and collectively pray for the deceased’s soul as he murmured supplications himself. He never deducted the pay for my brief absentia.

I was freshly promoted as the Editor, MAG when Javed Sahab first broke the news to the team about his illness. There were speculations of a long, trip to London that was upcoming on his calendar, but we were not aware that it was to be one taken for medical reasons.

We were ushered into his grand office – which too had an intimidating effect much like his owner – and sat across him. It was in this very office not too long ago that he had shared personal anecdotes and memories of himself, which often exposed his vulnerability in dealing with people he trusted. He told me, how he was a chain-smoker at one point but he quitted because his son Yousuf made him swear he won’t smoke anymore. And the doting father that he was, he told us he never touched a pack ever again in his life. This brings back hilarious memories of when he surprisingly raided our office’s common room to catch surprised men taking a sutta break. After that incident, the practice was unanimously banished from the floor with people flocking upstairs to the 6th floor in turns to seek relief from the butt.

I felt torpedoed, anguished and astonished when he first gave us the news that he would be travelling to the UK to get an non-malignant ‘scab’ in his lungs checked. We felt derailed and dejected, but we still hoped. Too hopeful, primarily because we really did view the man as invincible and someone who would show up to work regardless of any medical issue. Imagine our horror, as weeks slipped but the 3rd Floor of Jang’s building never felt the thunder of his brisk footsteps.

Those who worked closely under him – and oh there were many – had inevitably formed a circle of the sorts. Mir Javed touched many lives; I am rueful of the fact that my association with him as an Editor could not be much prolonged as the predecessors.

I bring this to end with a heart overwhelmed with emotions and a line from his favourite James Bond movie;

Be Seeing you! In heaven, you rest.