It was back in January 2011, when I had my Ophthalmology viva on the third floor of King Edward Medical University (KEMU)’s Ophthalmology Department.
While I was preparing my case, I saw a well dressed, smiling, bright-eyed person walking into the ward.
The announcement was made, “get ready for your cases,” and we all scrambled to try and pull things together.
He looked around the hall and started in the lane next to me.
Like any student would, I kept making note of the questions he was asking and thinking about what he would ask me. I wondered if this professor would be a tough grader or if he would repeat some questions which he had already asked.
Just then, he suddenly asked the hall a question: “Listen boys, this boy can’t tell me the difference between an incomplete and complete cataract; is there anyone here who can?”
“Yes Sir, I can,” I heard myself scream at the top of my lungs.
He just smiled at my outburst and said:
“Ok, tell me.”
I did. He smiled again and I immediately felt at ease.
During the entire examination, he appeared to be calm, friendly and professional. Unfortunately, that was my first and last meeting with Prof Syed Ali Haider.
I remembered him fondly later when I happened to be the best Ophthalmology student in class.
But life goes on and everything was fine until yesterday morning when I was shocked by the tragic news of his murder at the FC college underpass.
With him, his son, 12, suffered bullet injuries to the head and died on the way to the hospital.
Do you know who buried the father and the son? His father, 85, and mother, 80, with the 14-year-old son of the deceased standing nearby carrying his six-month-old sister.
I feel great anguish for Professor Syed Ali Haider’s family. I feel bad for the father, the great Prof Zafar Haider, who gave everything to Pakistan and got this terrible fate in return; I feel bad for the six-month-old angel who will never know how her father was.
But I feel worse for those who are being murdered on the basis of their faith.
Thousands of patients and students will now await the birth of a vitreo-retinal surgeon of Prof Syed Ali Haider’s calibre.
Today, I remember Prof Shabeeul Hassan, master of the subject of Urdu.
He underwent the same fate, but now no one remembers him except his family and maybe some people who have been his privileged pupils.
I regret that people care for a day or two, and then go on with their lives.
Who will eventually stop this madness? Or will we wait to see who is next?
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2013.