A fond farewell, Masood Hasan

Published: June 5, 2014
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

Borrowing from obituaries in my very favourite Private Eye “So. Farewell then”. Masood Hasan. My senior schoolmate, you entered Cadet College in 1956 in the Second Entry (9th Class) when Mr H Catchpole was the Headmaster. My cousin, Farooq Hyat, was your entry mate but a year junior. I was 5th Entry, joining in 1958 in the 8th class. Mr Catchpole supervised our entry but was gone inside a year to PAF School, Sargodha, to be replaced for a short while by Sqn. Ldr. NA Beg and then by the peerless Lt. Col. AWE Winlaw in 1959.

Your older brother, Mr Khalid Hasan, came to our school, too, in 1959 immediately after his post-graduation, to teach English — he must have been 22 then, a mere boy, but did we go in dread of him? If for nothing else but for his mastery over the English language and his impeccable manners and dress. And not least of all, his steely glare.

And whilst you both remained my friends for life: Mr Khalid Hasan and I because of a common interest in politics; I really got to know you because you were best buddies with my cousin Sami Shah, now passed on too, RIP. I talk about 1968 here and later, Masood, about 56, Main Gulberg which you wrote about not too long ago in your column “Over the Top”. A column that was read by thousands of your fans with amusement, glee and sadness, so vast was your repertoire. Professionally, too, you reached the very heights in your field of advertising.

You are now gone to the hereafter, the ‘happy hunting ground’ in Native-American lore, taking with you the greatest gift you generously gave your friends and those who knew you: the gift of laughter, and that of laughing at yourself which we Pakistanis seriously lack. You told stories of your beloved Sialkot, and some of the most interesting people in the world who lived in that city in those halcyon days. Mirza Bahar Beg for one.

On July 14, 2009, I wrote in Dawn: “I am immediately reminded of a story told me by friends Khalid and Masood Hasan at different times over the past 30 years.

“In the ‘30s a cricketing gentleman of Sialkot by the name of Mirza Bahar Beg set up the Bahar Beg Cricket Club which grew so in name that it used to have a yearly cricket fixture with Dyal Singh College, played alternately in Sialkot and Lahore. We must note here two characteristics of Mirza Sahib: he now had a game left hand which used to flail violently whenever he was agitated; and when in this state, he always squatted on his haunches on his chair, feet on seat.

“One year, Dyal Singh College turned up in Sialkot with a (much acclaimed) new fast bowler who took two wickets in the first two balls. As the two-down batsman, a handsome, tall, stylish man whose indulgent father used to import the best English kit for his son went out, Mirza Sahib climbed off his chair, went up to him and said, hand pumping up and down “Hun khiyaal kareen”! (‘Watch out now; be careful’).

“The bowler took his very long run, came in, bowled, and beat the batsman comprehensively on the off side. Second ball, likewise, this time on the leg side. Third ball, centre stump goes flying end over end and our fashion model walks stylishly back to the pavilion, bat tucked under arm, where Mirza Bahar Beg is waiting, his left arm virtually flailing the air. “Kee hoyae”. Our hero: “Mirza Saab, paila ball off-side tae aya tae well left kita; doosra ball leg tae vee well left kar ditta …”! “Teesra ball siddha aa riya see, tae mein…” Mirza Sahib, now shouting: “(Many expletives deleted) Aina patta see tae (Even more expletives deleted!) out kiyon hoyain”??!!

In English: When Mirza Bahar Beg asked the returned batsman what happened he said: “I saw the first ball off on the off side and did the same with the second ball on the leg side. The third was coming straight at the stumps, and….”! At which time Mirza Sahib, shouting loudly, says: “(Expletive deleted) If you knew so much about each ball, you (Many more expletives deleted), why were you bowled out”?!

Such, and other stories you regaled us with Masood, specially the hilarious one’s about the Pahlwans of Sialkot who used to sit in the stands at midwicket and barrack the opposing side’s player fielding there mercilessly, using the choicest Sialkoti swear words one does not repeat here, this being a family paper.

But now you are gone. For those who did not know you, you left this world uncomplainingly, and with dignity, even though you suffered so at the end. There was never a complaint out of you, not the slightest hint that you were dealt an unfair hand. Indeed, just three weeks before your passing you were at friend Tahir’s dinner, you and the lovely Ira, your dear wife of 42 years, a gentler, more caring person hard to find in this world.

Rest in peace, pal, and when you come across Mr Khalid Hasan do give him my love and say I miss him too; even the barbs he occasionally aimed at me, and which kept me on my toes. Bye, buddy.

Without comment: Quote: The Sunday Express, London, Sept. 1 2013. Alan Power claims Diana, who died in a Paris car crash 16 years ago yesterday, was killed by MI6 with military help. ‘The Sunday Express has learnt that a former SAS soldier who claims to have served in an assassination team known as The Increment worked closely with him on his explosive new book, The Princess Diana Conspiracy…..

…..Police launched their investigation after being told that another former SAS soldier, unknown to Mr Power, informed his estranged in-laws that the regiment was behind the crash that killed the 36-year-old Princess, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, 42, and chauffeur Henri Paul.

In his preface for the book, he states: “Diana was murdered by MI6 with military aid’’ but does not produce overwhelming ¬evidence to support his theory or name the assassins. Unquote.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Taimoor Hasan Qazi
    Jun 5, 2014 - 11:46PM

    What is this jibber jabber? You are lucky to get a platform from where you can address important issues facing us as a society today, and this is how you use up that opportunity?! Pity…

    Or did you mistakenly submit your diary entry to ET?


  • Parvez
    Jun 5, 2014 - 11:48PM

    You were going along so well……….then you brought the bit about Diana into play for no apparent reason. You could have said something trivial about our Altaf Bhai of London Town.


  • A Khan
    Jun 6, 2014 - 12:35AM

    Shocked to learn about Masood Hasan’s demise. I used to enjoy his witty column “Over the Top” every week and specially liked the trips down memory lane of Peshawar and Murree of yester years. Masood RIP. You will be missed my dear old friend.


  • IndianDude
    Jun 6, 2014 - 6:05AM

    Masood Hasan passed away? when? RIP. I always enjoyed his articles and humor a lot. One more rational, secular and intelligent pakistani gone.


  • Aarvey India
    Jun 6, 2014 - 8:05AM

    It left me wondering why Masood Hassan disappeared from the opinion columns of THE NEWS INTERNATIONAL , Sunday after every Sunday. Shocked to hear of his passing away. Miss his wonderful style of writing and my Sunday morning coffee will never be he same. Masood loved his country but lamented the downside caused by religious bigotry and narrow thinking. RIP Masood Saab….


  • jk
    Jun 6, 2014 - 9:36AM

    He was One of the best column writers this country has ever had, i was very fond of reading his satire articles.RIP masood hasan


  • Shakir Lakhani
    Jun 6, 2014 - 12:50PM

    Can someone confirm that Masood Hasan’s brother Khalid Hasan (the writer) had also played test cricket for the Pakistan team before he took up writing?


  • Feroz
    Jun 6, 2014 - 3:22PM

    This one went a little here and there — outside both off and leg stump, in one day parlance WIDE.


  • Jun 6, 2014 - 5:18PM

    All your articles are personal vendetta… nothing more, nothing less.


  • Strategic Asset
    Jun 6, 2014 - 8:04PM

    @The Only Normal Person Here: All your articles are personal vendetta… nothing more, nothing less.

    Can’t believe I am supporting Kamran Shafi here. To date, the only person I have known Mr. Shafi to have a grouse against is the “commando” and I do not blame him for that. For an ex-Army Major to go against a previous head of the establishment is a considerable risk in a country like Pakistan and I respect him for that.

    This here article however is an obituary for his colleague and there is absolutely nothing political or contemporaneous in this article except a recent death.

    Your comment demonstrates that you are not the normal person here. I think I am instead.


  • Strategic Asset
    Jun 6, 2014 - 9:48PM

    @Feroz: Reminds me of reading a Khushwant Singh column. All wide to me.


  • Author
    Jun 6, 2014 - 11:47PM

    @Strategic Asset: Khushwant Singh?? I am chuffed beyond belief!! Thank you, thank you!!


  • observer
    Jun 7, 2014 - 12:12AM

    I always enjoyed reading Masood Hasan’s balanced, frank and to-the-point columns. His passing away is a great loss to Pakistan’s journalism. RIP.


  • Cmsarwar
    Jun 7, 2014 - 1:02AM

    I read about Masood’s death with shock and surprise.In his last columns there was absolutely no hint that he was sick.We have lost a great man and a very noble soul.


  • Jack
    Jun 9, 2014 - 5:03PM

    Terrible obituary! Tribune, wake up, please.


  • Dr Tony Walsh
    Sep 5, 2014 - 4:03AM

    RIP Mr Hassan


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