Badtameez Dil Sabeen

Published April 26, 2015

Sabeen was defiant in life, and went out just as defiant, if not more.

There was nothing that would have dissuaded her from hosting the Balochistan talk last night at the T2F, for that's who she was. She was all about ensuring that those who were not visible enough; didn't have a platform to raise their voice; whose voice, music and art was unheard or unseen; whose activism had not gone mainstream; or simply who needed to grow in confidence – for all those people, she made sure she gave them a springboard to jump as high, go as far as they wanted to.

See: Sabeen, the one who never backed down

There are thousands of people who owe Sabeen the beginning of their careers. She was the kind of person impossible not to love even when she was outwardly defiant. I often told her she was fairly badtameez, just like me – and we always high-fived at that.

She wanted to infuse local art into the current pop culture; create a space where civil liberties and discourse could happen.

One thing she loved more than anything was political rallies – didn't matter whose it was, didn't matter when or where. The adrenalin of protests, she used to say, gave her a lifeline.

The night before, she was trying to convince us to go to Jinnahbagh. I told her I was putting her on mute in our Whatsapp group. I'd had enough of the NA-246 drama and every other news item about it.

Among Sabeen's main loves were Apple products, her cat 'Jadoo', and the British actor Hugh Laurie. She and my sister exchanged photos of Hugh Laurie several times a day. And I loved how she could talk about TV shows like they had real people in them.

Read on: T2F hosts the Balochistan discussion that others shy away from

The T2F was the kind of place where one returned from filled with ideas, or at least the longing to do something. I still remember her cheerfulness at the Creative Festival, a fundraising event organised to keep the dream of the T2F alive this past year.

Raania, Marvi, Sanam, and her team at the T2F and several others and myself were in the preparation phase of Dil Phaink, which is going to be part of the Alchemy Festival at the Southbank Center in London on May 21st.

Recreating Karachi for this gallery, each one of us had a project, mine being a video installation which was rather dark. But, Sabeen skillfully cajoled me out of the darkness into something much better. I realise now that she deployed her friendly – rather than authoritative – tone to draw me in and persuade me to do this. I can't help smiling, thinking about that now.

My last message to her last night is time-stamped 20:45, saying that I agreed with the title of my project. It does not have the blue ticks to confirm that her eyes have seen it.

She will never know I sent her a big smiley emoticon and agreed to the title she picked for me.

As I ran through the hospital corridor to find friends already there, I was expecting to see Sabeen in a dressing or a sling, with a grin, 'cause you know ... you ain’t relevant till you’re shot, right? But to find her already gone broke more than just our hearts.

After the loss of Musadiq Sanwal (former editor Dawn.com), who was my mentor, the loss of Sabeen Mahmud is too much to comprehend.

And it's too soon.

Another kindred spirit, another friend gone from us; from this city of Karachi, the place we call home.

—Photos provided by friends and family of Sabeen Mahmud


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