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Murtaza Razvi, my friend


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Murtaza Razvi – Photo by Khuda Bux Abro

Tomorrow is April 19. The morning of April 19 last year brought a thick layer of darkness in its wake, the same darkness that has overshadowed Pakistan for decades now. But on the said morning, a twinkling ray of light was silenced forever. Just because this nation brought up under the dark and shadowy skies had a petty grievance. This twinkling ray of light was none other than my friend Murtaza Razvi, one of those highly educated sons of this country who – despite having degrees from foreign universities and fluency in several languages – favoured returning to his country and working here instead of staying abroad and living a comfortable life with a high-paying job.

Murtaza’s departure was an irreplaceable loss for his family and friends, but it was a far greater loss for those who love this nation. In a country ruled by darkness, writers such as Murtaza are like a lit lamp that shines through the obscurity. Storms cannot extinguish them; their source of light may be initiated in solitude but it is contagious and spreads to their surroundings. His unexpected departure left his family and friends in utter stillness. The very people, who thought it important to hold a minute of silence for the unknown deceased at various events, have been quiet for a whole year. No one attempted to write about him later, nor was any condolence meeting held for him. No one tried to review the extent of Murtaza’s work that extended to journalism, literature and art.

This is a country where the thieves, plunderers, the leeches sucking the blood of the poor, those who debase humanity, the liars and double-dealers are all mourned. Strikes are held in their honour; death anniversaries are observed; special numbers and obituaries are published for them in the newspapers. But what had Murtaza done wrong that his goodness, philanthropy, charity and entire life’s work were all dominated by his demise and his friends continue to avoid each other’s eyes. He wasn’t someone who could be forgotten so easily and silently. He was, in fact, a lively, friendly person who loved literature and the arts and always promoted them; a person who used to spread love and compassion in a place rife with hatred and fundamentalism.

When our friend and a Sindhi poet, Hassan Dars passed away in an accident, I remember how we stood in the corridor at Dawn, looking at each other in the eye and condoling our friend’s demise as words are usually insufficient on such occasions. He got all our friends who knew Dars to write about the latter. In the same week, a number was published for Dars in Dawn’s Books & Authors, telling the world about the treasure it had lost. Murtaza wasn’t only a big name in journalism. His services to literature and the arts during his time as an editor are unforgettable to many.

Journalism is beginning to lose its educated members, who remained connected to their land while maintaining their relationship with books. Now the journalists too swim in pools of gold and their feet hover above the ground. But this man always remained grounded, meeting everyone with compassion in his eyes and a smile on his face, regardless of whether they loved or hated him. Not only did he help those around him but through his writing he helped those people for whom he really cared about, quietly helping them financially. Once a mutual friend met him outside Saylani’s and a smiling Murtaza told him to consider that the latter had gone there to have a meal.

His sense of humour was dominated by a Lahori flavour. Despite having been born in Lahore, he would always insist on being considered a Karachiite. After the demise of his mother, he began writing poetry and used to recite it at every mehfil, which was something he enjoyed a lot. So the poets and the enthusiasts surrounded him as he became an indispensable part of their poetry gatherings.

You will find many men in this society that claim to support gender equality, another issue that has become a lucrative industry now. But when you actually search for such men, you would find only a handful that genuinely believe in gender equality and practice it too. I always found him to be the most prominent out of them all. Not only was he extremely proud of his wife and daughters but also encouraged and helped other women that he interacted with everyday. He used highlight their issues in his writings, not just because it was fashionable to do so, but because he was a true feminist. It was endearing to see his excited manner when he would tell his friends about the slightest achievements of his growing daughters. If there were more fathers like him in this society, then half of the problems faced by women could be resolved.

He was more a friend than a boss. He would let his team members decide how to do their work. If he ever had to make a decision, he would first ask every team member’s opinion. He kept his team together even if two people didn’t wish to see each other’s faces by making everyone sit down and talk things out, sometimes even treated them to lunch. His colleagues often ordered food from fancy restaurants or went out for lunch. But I always saw Murtaza eating food from the office canteen or eating alongside the labourers at the eateries near Jang Press and enjoying himself immensely.

He was just as competent at cooking. I can never forget the aroma of his cooking. He learnt how to cook from his mother. I learnt how to cook rice from him one day when all other dishes were prepared but there was nothing to eat them with. That day, Murtaza cooked the rice and taught me the recipe.

He knew so many languages that even I was astonished. Punjabi was his mother tongue but he was also fluent in English, Urdu, Persian, Hindi, French, German and some other languages.

There were countless memories of Murtaza that should be shared. But I appeal to his friends and admirers that for God’s sake, please break your fast of silence because people like him are not commonly found. So let us come together in his remembrance and cherish his memories. I merely wished to initiate this, which I have done.

Listen to this blog in Hindi-Urdu [soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.

Author Image
The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (20) Closed

Sunil Sharan Apr 18, 2013 07:27am
An exceedingly polite and responsive human being. A rare editor who treated contributing writers with rare respect. Who killed this noble soul and why? Has anyone found out? Or will his death go in vain? Rest in peace, Murtaza, I pray for you. You are the only editor who addressed me as Mr. Sharan. I still treasure your emails. Khuda Hafiz. Adieu. May the sweet Lord look after you. Sunil Sharan
zafar Apr 18, 2013 07:51am
just tears came into my eyes.. although i am not a journalist neither a literary man.. but i am mourning over the death of Murtaza,,
Indian Apr 18, 2013 08:13am
RIP. Sorry to hear attacks on journalilsts.
Goga Nalaik Apr 18, 2013 08:34am
I was a regular reader of his articles. I always considered him as a courageous secular journalist.
Dixit Apr 18, 2013 09:22am
In all the religion I have observed that people had suffered a lot in the hands of godmen. Be it Hinduism, Christianity or Islam, self styled religious leaders of societies used to take innocent/illiterate people for a ride and forced them to follow their absurd opinions/dictates, saying that these are god's wish. But with the passing of time people gained knowledge and came out of the claws of so called religious leaders and with the help of some great social reformers they even got rid of many inhumane rituals. I am surprised to see that in Islam some educated people and even some national leaders support mullas/molavis for their vested interests. Seeing many intellectuals of the society supporting them people fear to speak against atrocities committed to them. So it is in hands of educated people to spread knowledge to underprivileded people around them and make able to differentiate between right & wrong, good & bad.
Nauman S. Apr 18, 2013 09:29am
I dont have words to express my feelings that I hold for my friend, with whom I discuss everything and anything and with his power of understanding and unmatched humor he always come up with the best of suggestions, which actually helps and I am sure its not only me but many like me who miss him a lot in their lives. May Allah give him the best of places in havens. Miss you my friend
Reality Check Apr 18, 2013 11:00am
Even though I consider myself a regular reader of Dawn, I am ashamed to admit that I didn't know much about Murtaza Razvi. But after reading this heart felt tribute to him, I wish I was more acquainted to his writings. I wish the media today didn't have such misplaced priorities and would educate the people of such self less heroes and their great sacrifices. RIP Murtaza Razvi!
Save our journalist Apr 18, 2013 01:24pm
Truly , his articles were nicely written and thought provoking. Indeed I admire him. Thanks for sharing about his life. May God Bless is soul!
Syed Apr 18, 2013 03:26pm
I just kept reading wanting to find out if they ever caught his killers but I guess that would be too much to ask. I had been reading about his death and then they stopped writing about him. If you want to commit a crime and not get caught then I'd say do it in Pakistan. Thank you Khuda Bux for this article. It is a reminder that no matter how bad the situation and people in Pakistan, there are still some good people alive.
ayub Apr 18, 2013 04:39pm
I am frequent reader of Dawn. I wonder how I have missed him. But now is passed away, we can only pray for him. May Allah shower all his blessings on the departed soul and grant fortitude to his family to bear this irreparable loss. Aamen.
Sikander Apr 18, 2013 06:42pm
RIP Murtaza Razvi. You were a very courgeous man and people's person.
iqbalalavi Apr 18, 2013 07:08pm
Dear Abro. You have remembered Murtaza Razvi in the article cited above. It is a good piece of writing and rememberance of our near and dear ones. We admire you for your talent, love, sincererty and purity of heart. You have remembered Murtaza on his anniversary. We are benefitted from your wirting.Now you have done a great job by making the Waf's program on Perveen Rehman a memorable event. Your posters, regular reminders prove how sincere your are to your friends. Wish you healthy long life. Good wishes for Attia and Suha. She has done commendable event this evening. Recording of the accompanying poetry recitel of Shaikh Ayaz's work and musch need looking into. Please remove the bugs. Sincerely yours iqbalalavi
SBB Apr 18, 2013 09:05pm
Thank you for reminding us about Mr. Razvi. I do remember his articles, and they were all of very high quality. Not only did he write well, but he wrote about subjects that truly need attention. I wish I could have met this man personally. And I wish many more of us had the courage of Mr. Razvi.
S. A. M. Apr 19, 2013 12:32am
One of his biggest sin was that he was a shia. When non shias are not letting their houses on rent to shieas how can a noble journalist regardless of how liberal he was survive in this country? worse time yet to come for shias in pakistan
rumanahusain Apr 19, 2013 04:38am
Murtaza was a gem. Miss him dearly!
Shagufta Naaz Apr 19, 2013 06:24am
Thank you Abro - when someone like Murtaza passes away, we are all the poorer for it. He was a walking encyclopedia, reviled for his 'irreligious lifestyle' he was a staunch upholder of human values; he helped several people financially, a fact we only learnt of after his death. We miss you Murtaza
Khizr Apr 19, 2013 06:49am
Khuda karay kay mohabat ke shamein jalte rahein Merey watan pe mohabat'on ke saba chaltee rahey People like Murtaza are the torch bearers of humanity. We must not let the light of this torch diminish even in the worst of the seasons.
wateeb khan Apr 19, 2013 07:15am
i really feel grievance for missed our blog writer , i'm a new dawn reader so i haven't read him but feel so sorrow about his demised... may GOD bless him..
nasreentufail Apr 19, 2013 11:11am
Human's wright upon one another is of affection, not to become wealth loving. This is the treasure of human culture.May Allah s.w.t place Murtaza Rizvi in Janat-l-Firdos and give patience to his family.Amin
Aamir Apr 19, 2013 12:32pm
We miss him a lot. I do not know what happened, his body was reported to be found in his office, perhaps? Does any one has any followup news?