KARACHI: The funeral rites for Ardeshir Cowasjee, the renowned columnist and patriarch of all things Karachi, were held on Tuesday morning in a dignified way befitting of his stature.
His Bath Island residence was packed to capacity with some of the city’s most well-known residents turning up to pay their respects to Cowasjee, who died in Karachi on Sunday.
His children, Ava and Rustom Cowasjee, and his brother, Cyrus, greeted each mourner as they passed by to the place where Cowasjee’s body was laid. After the completion of the rites, his body was to be transported to the Tower of Silence.
Unlike the crowded, far-too-public spectacles that funerals have become, replete with screeching sirens of government cars bearing influential power brokers and their entourages, the air was silent, broken only by the murmurs of people speaking to each other.
Among the hundreds at the Cowasjee residence on Tuesday were Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation’s Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi and Dr Anwar Kazmi, Dr Faridoon Setna and his wife, Dawn Group’s Hameed Haroon and Amber Saigol, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Executive Director Dr Tasnim Ahsan, Unilever’s Fareshteh Gati-Aslam, Canvas Gallery’s Sameera Raja, author HM Naqvi and Nazish Ataullah, formerly of Lahore’s National College of Arts.
The house staffers put out a remembrance book as attendees queued up to view his body and pay their respects.
Cowasjee had insisted that his funeral would be open to followers of all faiths, and his belief in a pluralistic Pakistan was evident in those mourning his death: if on one chair, a woman prayed on a rosary and clutched a bouquet of flowers, at another, a woman was clad in a burqa and on a third, a man wore the traditional Zoroastrian prayer skull cap. The attendees reflected the wide social circle that Ardeshir Cowasjee inhabited, and the number of people who had had some interaction with him, however brief – through his columns, his occasional speaking engagement, an off-chance meeting.
Attendees sat by the pool against which Cowasjee was photographed and interviewed countless times. His cars, that he once whizzed around on all over Clifton, were locked up in the garage.
From a window, one could spy his chair, now empty forever.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2012.