Saturday July 20, 2024

Good bye Usmani!

By Mobarik A Virk
February 21, 2017



Hey! Look Usmani, indeed we had plans to get together some time very soon. All of us, the ‘City Walas’ (City Desk and the City Reporters) to celebrate your much, much, much delayed promotion as ‘City Editor’.

Each one of us seemed to be in a hurry to congratulate you. A promotion in the rank had become such a rarity these days. And you had waited for such a long time! I really can’t recall when was the last time that I heard of a sub-editor was promoted to the next rank, like as the Senior Sub-Editor or the Section Editor (City, Sports, Commerce, National, International, or Op.Ed).

So, when we heard about your promotion, each one of us, the ‘City Wallas’ were genuinely happy. We were profuse in our congratulations as we kept thumbing the messages on ‘Whatsapp’ or ‘Messenger’! At times I really wonder if this modern technology has brought us closer or has separated us, thrown us so far apart.

So, most of us thought that sending a ‘message’ on phone was enough to convey our feelings. All of us started making the customary demand of a ‘grand party’ to celebrate your promotion. “We are not looking for the sweets! Sweets are for the office ‘wallas’. We want a grand party. A dinner! And your response to our demands was always warm.

“Whenever and wherever you may wish!” you have always responded. And then it was agreed that sometime during the first week of March, all of us, the ‘City Wallas’ were getting together for a ‘big party’. 

All of us wanted to get together for you indeed but not the way you brought us together. Not to come sobbing and crying to carry you to your last earthly abode in the graveyard!

“He was survived by a widow, a son and a daughter,” read the obituary. Wonder why nobody mentions the friends and colleagues with whom he had spent most part of his life! We first met when Saleem (Akbar) Usmani joined ‘The Muslim’ back in 1983, or was it 1984. I was on the Sports Desk, working as sub-editor with Sarfraz sahib, the famous Sports Editor.

And then ‘The Frontier Post’ started from Peshawar in 1986 and Murtaza Malik lured some of us out of The Muslim and we went to Peshawar. When I returned from Peshawar after spending 4 years working with ‘The Frontier Post’ (5th January 1986-22nd February, 1990) and re-joined ‘The Muslim’, I found most of the friends and familiar faces have left the organisation already.

Within hours of re-joining ‘The Muslim’, I was warmly hugged and the person was none other but dear old Saleem Usmani. We worked without being paid for six months in succession (this pay-less period stretched further but I broke down and quit to join ‘The Nation’) and yet those were the loveliest of times. Surviving on ‘Saeed Chemicals’ (tea from Saeed sahab’s canteen on the rooftop). It was then that we two got separated.

Our association resumed when Usmani joined ‘The News’ in 2001. We were not meeting as frequently as we used to in the past because he was holding the Desk in Rawalpindi office and I was working from Islamabad office.

Last time I left him and all other friends and colleagues. This time he has left us all behind. To mourn!

Rest in peace Bro! May Allah bless you!