KARACHI: When people remember Sabeen Mahmud, the first memory they recall is how she made everyone laugh.
“She had a sense of who people are and how they will react to the things she will say,” said Jehan Ara, the president of software house P@SHA. Jehan Ara admired that Sabeen could deal with all kinds of people and make them comfortable. She was speaking at a memorial event held on Monday evening in memory of rights activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was shot dead on April 24 shortly after she hosted a talk on the missing persons of Balochistan.
The event promised the presence of 616 people on its Facebook page only managed to gather 30 people but the memories they shared enriched all those who listened.
“No matter how busy she was, she was able to organise all her files and everything,” Jehan Ara recalled. “When she saw me last at a protest, she was really happy to see me because she felt one more person’s voice made a difference.”
The group agreed that raising their voice for an issue they feel for is a fitting tribute to Sabeen. “If she looked down at us, she would definitely ask why we are so serious and have tears in our eyes,” said Jehan Ara, asking the audience to celebrate the life of somebody whom we all loved.
Next to speak was Sabeen’s mentor Zaheer Kidvai, the person Sabeen went to when she was 15 years old because she wanted to learn about computers. “She went out to every protest with us,” he remembered. “Anything she took over, she got into every bit of it.”
Kidvai admitted that Sabeen was never afraid of dying. “What she taught me in the last 10 years of her life was so much more than I ever taught her,” he said.
Journalist Rabia Ghareeb shed light on the work Sabeen did through T2F and its importance for young people. “They got a place where they knew they wouldn’t be laughed at and they will be heard,” she said. “Every time you met her, it was a complete meeting. She will sit and listen to you. It was never incomplete,” she added. “I hope wherever she is, she is opening a T2F there.”
For Nuzhat Kidwai of the Women’s Action Forum, T2F was like an open university. Someone suggested to her to start a membership for T2F but she dismissed the idea. She wanted the space to be open to anyone, Kidwai recalled.
“There were people who liked her and then people who envied her because they wanted to be like her,” said a young man from the audience who only had the pleasure of knowing her for 25 minutes.
“She was more than a leader,” said Habib University School of Science and Engineering dean Shoaib Zaidi. “She made things bloom around her and that is so rare.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2015.