|My Best Friend, Jamsheed|
One by one my friends are falling away like autumn leaves. I have just heard the grievous news of the death of Jamsheed Marker, my best friend. In his death Pakistan has lost a noble soul, a man of many parts, a distinguished diplomat who alone understood the psyche, the mind and the soul of the west. And I have lost a good friend.
When I last met Jamsheed, a week ago, death stood at his elbow, with a bright mind, trapped in a body that would no longer do his bidding. Suddenly, without warning, he was gone. He awaited death patiently. He was not afraid of death.
A montage of memories flooded my mind. There are so many indelible memories he has left behind. He was one of the noblest, one of the most extra-ordinary, most impartial man I have ever known.
By an amazing turn in my life story, he became my friend. My father pulled me out of Islamia College Peshawar and sent me to FC College Lahore. Jamsheed and I first met in 1940 on the balustrade of Ewing hall, waiting to be interviewed for allotment of rooms. At that moment began a friendship between us which sailed serenely over all earthquakes and fluctuations of fortune. Despite diverse backgrounds, we immediately took to each other. Over the years our friendship was cemented which no convulsion could ever undermine. He and I were like splinters off the same tree. We were soulmates, ideally suited to each other. We shared the same brainwaves. Jamsheed was the key to the most important transformation of my life.
Jamsheed was my best friend in college but we drifted away after graduation. We were not good about staying in touch. A common friend I met by chance in 1949 after a late night show in Karachi, told me Jamsheed was in Karachi and how he could be contacted. If we re-connected, I wondered, could we still be friends? Does the raw material of friendship remain intact despite years of separation? On return to my hotel past midnight, in my excitement, I woke up all the Dinshaws. Jamsheed was married to Diana, a Dinshaw girl. There was no one more gracious than Diana.
Jamsheed’s greatest talent was friendship. The friendship of a good man is a gift from Heaven. Jamsheed was a good man on a giant scale. He had been for me a nearest thing I suppose, to a brother. He showered affection on his friends, and has left behind an endless stream of them. He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends.
I don’t know how to communicate the nobility of his life and how overwhelming it was to be admitted into it. To enter Jamsheed’s life was to enter the world of music, books and scintillating conversation. Friendship, close, intimate, indestructible and perpetual friendship was the guiding principle of his life.
We came to know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, hopes and dreams. In time, I was able to read his face, his thoughts, and his words. I came to know his questions before he asked them. I could finish his sentences. Our friendship was my greatest standby in times of trouble.
Jamsheed and I chatted by phone daily when he was in Karachi and once a week from the United States. We talked national and international events, gossips and family problems. We talked politics and history, the caprice of fortune, and the follies of men, until the stars came out in the sky. Now the phone is dead.
A man of tremendous modesty, dignity, integrity and humility, that is what Jamsheed was. He was immensely sophisticated, at home in any kind of company. Rancor and bitterness were not in Jamsheed’s lexicon. Subtle, sophisticated, and obsessively discrete, Jamsheed was in a class of his own.
Jamsheed, a music connoisseur, enjoyed listening to Beethoven, Schubert and Bach. What an excellent life he lived until the killer came tiptoeing into the room. It was cruel, the last hand that life dealt him.
Jamsheed introduced me to western classical music. I recollect listening to Beethoven’s moonlight sonata on the roof of our Garden Town residence in Lahore in 1941. Music tore us away from the murkiness of our everyday of life and lifted us into the sphere of the pure and the beautiful. Jamsheed’s solace in times of sadness or stress was music. Music was his emotional outlet, more or so as the passing years laid great burden on his shoulders.
Not merely in outward appearance, but most of all in character, in outlook, there was not a single flaw in his make-up. Modest, perhaps too modest, polite to a fault, kind, generous, ever eager to help others, at once serious minded and cheerful, amiable, extremely courteous, always anxious not to offend anyone, he had no thought of himself, but knew only comradeship, friendship, a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.
Jamsheed was a great optimist. His sunny personality allowed him to imagine the upside of almost anything. When times were bad, he knew they could get better. When they were good he knew they could get worse. He saw sunshine even when there was a hurricane. There was no one more exuberant than Jamsheed. Our conversations were fun, provocative, stimulating, never exhausting. He had great intellectual integrity.
I had never considered a future without Jamsheed. I had always assumed we had years to enjoy our friendship. How wrong I was. My whole world has suddenly changed – indeed, ended. I do not know if I could ever recover from his death. Time passes. But the deep sadness of time remains.
Farewell Jamsheed, dearest of friends, man of empathy and of dignity. Your like was not seen before and unlikely to be seen again.