Musadiq Sanwal and I – by Kamran Jawaid

Sanwal

Meray Dost, Meray Dost…

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

I don’t know how to start writing this post. I really have no idea. I guess the best way would be to define what I shared with him.

I don’t have many friends. I prefer to have acquaintances, or close acquaintances, but seldom friends.

Musadiq was my friend – and perhaps one of the few reasons why I liked dropping by Dawn’s offices. He made the lonely walk across Dawn’s almost vacant, silent corridors worth it. There was always a smile waiting when I opened the door to his room after a knock or two.

I didn’t know Musadiq for long. I don’t know his family. I was never a part of his social circle. Perhaps, being a recluse myself, I didn’t feel the need for it. I think he sensed my nature, when I was first introduced to him by Madeeha Syed in 2010.

Despite the twenty year gap between our ages, our connection was immediate. He understood movies. He loved music. He was stumped by our youth, and the way they slacked off on Facebook instead of working; that they were unwilling to read or learn to write.

We were two old men, who wondered and scratched our heads, and then wondered some more. When someone told me at his Namaz-e-Janazah they had never seen him frustrated, I smiled and said: “I had. More than a few times”

Musadiq was good at making everyone see the only side that mattered to people: to many he was the passionate, soft-spoken multi-talented man with chicly cut salt and pepper hair and a pair of sparkly eyes that didn’t really hide behind those plain black intellectuals’ glasses he wore.

I learned about his passing when a friend messaged me. I told my sister to check Dawn…and there it was. I wrapped my review of 47 Ronin, sent it, and out of habit my hand went to label the email to his folder. I stopped myself, clenched my jaw and laughed at my folly.

How I miss him.

Since the day he passed away, I keep coming back to Dawn.com to look at the way he smiled, through other people’s posts.

He had a distinct, hearty laugh that made his body shake a little; it was a genuine, guileless laugh.

When he once told me that some people didn’t like him, I was baffled. How could they not? Maybe they were never alone with him for two minutes. That’s all it took. Two minutes.

I was always nervy about working with editors. Musadiq changed me for the better. But that’s just the way he was: he never told you that it couldn’t work. He always had my back. No matter what I wanted to do, he was okay with it. He was the same with everyone.

We had plans for Dawn.com, about making it the best website about movies in Pakistan, but pushed them back until he would be better.

I only got to see the editor in him twice: first, when I showed him a review of mine (I never show my work to anyone), he pointed out one small aspect that I never realized. The second time, I saw him edit a headline. It was quick, witty and to the point.

When the reporter went away, I asked him when he was going to quit smoking. He slumped a little in the chair and dismissed my question with one of his trademark expressions. He had just come back from his treatment. He looked fragile. I prayed that he get his strength back on my way home.

He did. He had his laugh back.

A few months ago, I asked him to send me one of his compositions. I was planning a movie and wanted him to do the background score. He was game.

“What genre do you like best?” I asked. “Every one of them”, he replied. He popped open his iTunes and fished out the first incomplete composition. “It has a Bollywood-ish feel to it”, he said. It did and I loved it. The next one blew me away. It is one of the few gifts I have from him: https://soundcloud.com/kamranjawaid/jhok-mix-4-1

I knew he was good with music, but he was slowly turning into a poet as well (as Badar Alam writes in his post).

He was working on a book as well. “I’ve completed so many pages in the time I was away, I think I am going to go away for good and just…write”, he confided in me one day. I knew he wouldn’t do that. He was not one to slack away from responsibility.

I had forgotten how tough his fight with cancer was. I forgot the fatality that came with the disease – or maybe I didn’t want to believe (after all, he was physically better than before…wasn’t he?)

The last time I hugged him before going away, I told him: “Maann, just take care of yourself! I don’t like your office all vacant and stuff”.

Today, I dread even thinking about returning to the corridor that leads to his door.

Musadiq Sanwal was the Editor of Dawn.com. He passed away on the 17th of January, 2014, still very young at heart.

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