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Another stalwart bows out


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This file image is taken from a recent interview of M. A. Majid. – photo
This file image is taken from a recent interview of M. A. Majid. – photo

IT is never easy to write obituaries. The challenge increases when the person you are writing about is one you have had a long association with. This chapter in my life with Dawn closed today when M.A. Majid, who was a teacher, mentor and a friend of over three decades, said goodbye. We who worked with him were left with old memories of days by-gone. Another stalwart has departed – that is the thought that struck me immediately when I heard the news.

For over three decades we not only worked under the same roof. We also broke bread together. There were a few of us – Majid Sahib, Fazal Imam Sahib, Ghayurul Islam Sahib, Akhter Payami Sahib, M.H. Askari Sahib and I – who shared our meals and jokes to fuel our energies and our spirits for the remaining hours of the day which were more tiring and demanding. That is how newspapers function – the pace of work picks up as the day wears out.

This was also a time for us to  exchange views on the issues of the day. The discussions were heated. Majid Sahib was the one who stood up for traditions and was very wary of change. Even new technology was too much of a challenge for him. But being an epitome of courtesy and politeness he was never loud in putting us down. The unconventional among us got  impatient. But when lunch ended and we returned to our desks all disagreements had melted away.

He was a storehouse of knowledge and full of anecdotes about the old-timers he had known so well. Since I was the new-comer to the charmed world of newspaper journalism this was a learning experience for me. His mentor had been his uncle, Altaf Husain, the editor of Dawn from 1945 till 1965. When I was writing the history of the paper, it was Majid Sahib who briefed me in such detail about the evolution of this paper. I think no one else knew as much about Dawn as he did.

I often urged him to put all the information he had on paper, but he always seemed to be too busy to gather his thoughts and write. The day-to-day writing he did – be it editing work or writing editorials – kept him too occupied for other writing. What he wrote, notably the editorials he did on the most important political questions, were carefully crafted and profoundly thought out. It was a pleasure reading them and I learnt so much from them. A self-effacing man, he preferred to work quietly. But that did not mean that he was in any way insignificant. He actually exerted a lot of influence on his colleagues without announcing it. Many came to him for job-related advice.

It was his loyalty – whether to the institution he worked for – or to his friends that I will always remember. Given his professional standing, he had many job offers. But for him Dawn was the paper to be in once he was there. .

On every occasion, be it a death or an illness in the family or some other crisis, I always remember Majid Sahib with Razia Bhabhi, his greatest supporter, would turn up to enquire if anything was needed. Though he was a man of few words, his gesture would speak loud and clear.  Even something like a robbery in the house – that is now such a common occurrence though no less traumatic --  brought the Majids to my home to offer help and support.

He, along with the editor Ahmad Ali Khan, made Dawn like a family for us. I always appreciated this gesture  because I knew how busy Majid Sahib always was. He was sitting late in office -- at times he was around till ten in the night because the perfectionism in him was at work and he would not leave until each and every i was dotted and every t crossed. Then too when he went home he carried with him a briefcase full of papers to work on as he burnt the midnight oil. His capacity to work was phenomenal.

Now the time to rest is here Majid Sahib. But you will always be fresh in our thoughts.

The author is a Dawn columnist and a former assistant editor.

Comments (12) Closed

Bubloo Dec 21, 2012 10:30am
Bravo sir ... a life well-lived indeed .. may you rest in peace, inna lilaah e wa inna ilahi rajioon.
Cynical Dec 21, 2012 09:52am
You wrote it so well, it seems I can see the person and all that he stood for.
Hello1 Dec 21, 2012 07:44am
After reading this the realization dawned on me that despite the best efforts of crooks, humbugs, charlatans of all shades and hues who occupy positions of importance, it is because of the silent, unsung, unobtrusive and self effacing heroes like Mr. Majid who are passionately dedicated to their jobs, who perform their duties without fear or favour whose integrity and honesty is unimpeachable, that this country has managed to survive for so long. I would like to pay my humble tribute to this genuine stalwart of your profession.
siddiq karim Dec 21, 2012 02:04pm
I grew up reading Dawn every morning wen I lived in Karachi. What a ray of hope Dawn has been in our lives. May Allah bless everyone at the paper especially Majid Sahib. Ameen
Mr.T Dec 21, 2012 07:12am
Must be great person. RiP
nh Dec 21, 2012 05:40pm
Great article about great personality. Excellent.
sraz45 Dec 21, 2012 05:41pm
Great souls like him are purely dedicated in word and kind to what's right. These rare folks make up the very fabric that humans survive on everywhere. Without them we would fall apart. Dawn has surely has lost a great one. RIP Majid Sahib
Syed Ahmed Dec 21, 2012 08:28pm
May Allah bless his soul.
ali Dec 21, 2012 11:58pm
Wonderful article.May Mr Majid`s soul rest in eternal peace. Aameen
Talk4real Dec 22, 2012 07:11am
May Almighty Allah grant him the best of heavens......
ali ahmed Dec 22, 2012 04:48pm
great people are not born every day..may his soul rest in peace
Cyrus Howell Dec 25, 2012 05:57pm
M.A. Majid was a teacher, mentor, a friend, and a father figure.