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Javid: My friend, my roommate

<p>We had never met. I had known Javid Ahmad through social media. We used to chat online when he was pursuing his post-graduation in journalism from the University of Madras. He had already worked in Rising Kashmir and left the job in 2014 to complete hi

Post by on Tuesday, June 9, 2020

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We had never met. I had known Javid Ahmad through social media. We used to chat online when he was pursuing his post-graduation in journalism from the University of Madras. He had already worked in Rising Kashmir and left the job in 2014 to complete his studies.
I vividly remember that cold rainy day of March 2017 when I met Javid. He had returned to Kashmir to rejoin Rising Kashmir after completing his post-graduation. It was around 3 pm. I was working on a story in the newsroom when Javid knocked at the door sporting a smile. Drenched, he was carrying an umbrella in hand. As we greeted one another, his cheeks blushed due to cold. We had tea and spent around two hours together. Then he returned home.
After some days, I noticed Javid used to shuttle to Baramulla every day. Sometimes he would even go to his brother’s place who was then studying at Budgam. Soon we became very close friends.
Time passed. He once asked me about my accommodation and I informed him that I had a rented accommodation at Magarmal Bagh in Srinagar. He asked if he could share my accommodation. I agreed. We shared a single room. For months we even shared our bedding. I asked him not to bring any utensils as I had enough for both of us.
The single-room accommodation belonged to a family hailing from Kupwara. This family had three children and we would teach them in our free time and on holidays.
We went to different places to cover stories. We would often go to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital to cover pellet victims and injured youth who would often come from south Kashmir areas.
In May 2017, we went to the city's Qamarwari area and reported about a family whose son had joined militancy.
We worked hard during these three years.
Javid was very active on social media and was an expert in the breaking news category. Apart from reporting, he also worked as an Online Editor for Rising Kashmir for a year.
In March 2019, we were joined by another colleague Irfan Yattoo. Now the three of us shared the same room. From cooking to sleeping, we would do everything in the same room.
Last August, Javid and I traveled to New Delhi together. It turned out to be a memorable journey for me.
We spent the past three years just like brothers and a family. Coming back from office in the evening, we would chat for long hours about what happened during the day. We never left office without each other. We would wait for each other to accompany us to our room.
He had not cooked before we lived together. Soon he learnt cooking and when Javid cooked chicken, it was worth relishing.
Javid would also like the Yakhni I cooked.
On August 5, when Article 370 was abrogated, we were in our room. That morning as we woke up, we went to a nearby bakery shop. We brought bread and had tea.
Later, we left for the office hurriedly as it was shutdown. All roads were blocked, all communication lines snapped.
We left from Magarmal Bagh by foot and took the Lal Ded Hospital road. As we reached Lal Mandi footbridge, it was sealed. Other routes leading to Lal Chowk had also been sealed. We took a shikara to cross the river and reached office at 11:30 am.
We came to know at the Press Enclave about the abrogation of Article 370. As all communication lines were shut, everyone was anxious at the office especially about their families as no one was able to communicate.
At the newspaper, on 5 August, the first day of lockdown, we wrote all the front page stories even without phone and internet. Some reporters watched television to gather details, some went to different places on foot.
That evening I also wrote a first-hand account about how we reached Lal Chowk. It was published under the headline: ‘A Walk Amid Siege’. It was Javid, who encouraged me to write it.
As communication lines were suspended, we worked without phone and internet for a week.
Later, the newspaper management assigned Javid and me additional work. We were asked to bring content from the media facilitation centre that was started by the government then. It was the only place where the internet was working for the journalists.
We would come and go to the media centre on an old-fashioned office bike. We did this work until February this year and enjoyed it amid odds. During this time we were provided accommodation at the office, the memories of which are also memorable for me.
At the media centre too, he was helpful. He would often offer hotspot connection to others and also help others in booking tickets or downloading examination and job forms.
In February this year, following the COVID-19 lockdown, we were asked to work from home. But before that Javid did all his wedding shopping as they had already finalised a date for marriage. His marriage had already been postponed in 2019 due to Kashmir lockdown.
Following the coronavirus pandemic, we were asked at the office to work from home. But before March, Javid had already planned his marriage in the first week of April.
Finally, he got married amid strict COVID-19 lockdown with a small gathering. I remember I once called Javid and he was then at the DC’s office at Baramulla to get a pass for him and his bride.
After the marriage he would often say, “Mansoor, it was a COVID-19 marriage. We will have a party in office soon.”
We could not join him due to the severe coronavirus lockdown as his village was also declared a ‘red zone’ then.
Last time, we met in Baramulla. It was on August 31. I had to bring a new mobile phone. I called Javid and he came with me. Later, we had Biryani together in Baramulla.
We would often speak over the phone about working from home, about stories and story ideas. Javid would give me multiple story ideas within no time. He was very optimistic.
On Thursday, October 1, we had an editorial meeting scheduled at the Rising Kashmir office in Srinagar. We spoke in the morning. Like a routine day, Javid said he would keep his bike at Sopore, then board a passenger vehicle to Srinagar.
I and Irfan met near Pattan highway. We were riding a two wheeler. We were excited to meet Javid.
It was around 1:20 pm that we reached Batamaloo when my phone rang. It was a friend from Baramulla who informed me about Javid.
“Where is Javid? I saw his picture in a WhatsApp group? Is he okay,” he told me hurriedly. In the meantime I got another call from a friend from Uri who said, “Javid has suffered a heart attack and he is in Pattan hospital.”
It came as a shock. I quickly rang a doctor at the hospital who confirmed that Javid was no more. We moved quickly to Pattan hospital on the bike.
From Pattan hospital, Javid’s body had been taken in an ambulance two minutes before we arrived.
I had never thought that Javid would leave us so soon. Javid was a selfless, jovial human being and a hard working reporter. He would never say no to any story.
We would often share our copies with each other for proof-reading before we would leave office.
On the way to our room, we discussed what to prepare for dinner. Sometimes we would disagree over our choices of what dish to prepare and what not.
One of our reporter colleagues Umar Mukhtar would often taunt Javid, “If Javid won’t work, the newspaper won’t see the light of the rim the next day.”
Last year, post the abrogation of Article 370, Javid and I did a series of podcasts for a national news portal amid communications blockade. As there was no internet and mobile phones were snapped, we would record podcasts over landline.
Whenever we would return home in Baramulla, we would bring rice and vegetables from there. I have countless fond memories of Javid and they are as fresh as yesterday.

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