Haroon Habib Kirmani
Haroon Habib Kirmani was in NED MECH 80-81 batch. Haroon was a friendly, smart and kind person. He is best described by his friends who dedicated their words to how wonderful he was.
Haroon and Ahmed Safi together launched the first student chapter of AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) in Pakistan at their time.
Arshad Abbasi was Haroon’s lab partner as their roll numbers were together. On the eventful day of his death, he had asked Arshad if he wanted a lift on his bike. There was a movie showing in the auditorium, “Moscow Olympics”. Arshad intended to watch that movie and Haroon went his way home. When Arshad came home at night from a wedding, he was given the sad news of Haroon’s death and he attended his funeral the same night. Regarding this incident, Arshad writes, “Those moments are still engraved in my memory as if they had happened few days ago.”
It is rightfully said that,
“It takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, and a day to love them, but it takes an entire lifetime to forget them.”
Another friend of Haroon, Wasif Malik was fortunate enough to have known him for five years. Their friendship and how Wasif saw Haroon is perfectly described by Wasif as follows:
“We were together in Cadet College Petaro for five years prior to joining NED. He was an accomplished petarian doing well in academics as well as sports and extracurricular activities. At that time Petaro had six houses where all the cadets lived. I was in Liaquat house and Haroon was in Mohammad Bin Qasim house; about a couple of minutes’ walk from my house. I used to visit his house often and hung out with friends including him. During the last year at Petaro (12th grade), he was the group captain (Junior Under Officer) of his house, which was the highest honor anyone could achieve to represent their house. A handsome person, Haroon liveliness and jovial personality was contagious and would rub off on everyone around him. His voice was unique and full of life with a hint of mischief. I tremendously enjoyed his company. I visited his home often and enjoyed the company of his kind parents.”
He is Living…
We were getting ready to attend the first lecture of Engineering Mechanics I. We had just joined NED University of Engineering and everyone was excited about attending the classes and embark upon that learning highway upon which we had to travel for next few years. Class was settling down. We had already been the victims of the First-Year-Fools tradition and were cautious of the lecturers lest they turn out to be senior students of the department. Sitting on our one armed school chair I put my bag pack on the side and took out my note taking register. Opened up the first page and wrote the heading, in what later our friend Arshad Abbasi named as “Khat-e bay tuka” (خط ِ بے تُکا), a stylish “Mehcanix.”
“Why are you trying to be American? Why not remain original?” said the guy sitting next to me. “Excuse me?” I said and initiated my first dialogue with Haroon Habib Kirmani. He looked like a Fauji from his style and attire. Very orderly and somewhat commanding. Smiling at me he said, “Bhai sahib, this is not how we write Mechanics, do we?” Thus opened up his patriotic side to me which I kept witnessing till the end of his tenure in this mortal world.
Haroon was very jolly and happy-go-lucky type person. Making friends with him was not difficult at all. For me it was instant friendship with him just add smiles. Our interaction was off and on as he already had a group of Petarian alumni to hang around with. Still whenever he found time we discussed literature, religion and many other topics over the course of later semesters.
Some of us along with senior students, founded the first branch of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at NED under the patronage of our teacher Mr. Usman Ghani sahib. We had an election for the organization and Haroon became the Treasurer. Being in the executive committe, I got a chance to be with him more due to the extra-curricular activities related to AIAA. Mr. Usman Ghani paired me up with him on a study project which was supposed to end in fabrication of an aerodynamic test apparatus. We had to work overtime for that.
We used to stay after the classes to study the prescribed book and try to figure out how we were going to fabricate the apparatus. This was the time when Haroon bought his Honda CD-70 motorbike. He was always bragging about the goodness of this particular model and that how it had made life easier for him. The whole city was accessible to him with no more waiting at the bus stops. All of us friends used to make fun of him for his love for this bike. I told him that we did not have to stay after the classes anymore because he could ride his Honda to my home in the evening. He would get annoyed and say that having a bike did not mean that he should be taken advantage of! We would laugh at his witty puns and double meaning sentences.
Haroon was an avid reader of Urdu and English poetry. He would discuss poetry with me as he knew my liking for the subject. Once he mentioned a verse “I live because you love me! I’ll die they day you’d stop loving me.” I do not remember whose verse was it but he discussed this simple line in depth. Later, one day he came running to me during a break and shouted, “Yaar Ahmad – daekh Ghalib kyaa keh gayaa hai… My God… zaraa sun –
Jaatay hu’ay kehtay ho Qayamat ko milaeN gay
Kyaa Khoob Qayamat ka hai goyaa ko’ee din aur?”
جاتے ہؤے کہتے ہو قیامت کو ملیں گے
کیا خوب، قیامت کا ہے گویا کوئی دن اور
And we discussed this couplet in detail… this was from an obituary ghazal that Ghalib had written for his nephew who had died young. But this couplet somehow struck Haroon hard and I have not seen anyone so much moved by this couplet as him yet. This just made that ghazal moving for me for the rest of my life too.
It was that fateful afternoon when we had just finished classes and Haroon did not want to stay over for the extra study time. He was trying to start his motorbike outside the Gas Dynamics Lab. Apparently there was some problem and the bike wouldn’t start. Me and some other friends started making fun of his incredible bike. He was fuming more than the silencer on his bike. Finally he was able to get it started and revved up the machine loudly to drown our laughters in it. He mumbled something and turned his bike with engine revving loudly and sped away…
I was at home that afternoon when our friends Saleh and Khwaja Aftab came to the door. They broke the bad news to me slowly… Ahmad, Haroon was in an accident a couple of hour ago… I felt as if something hit me hard… So.. how is he … which hospital… is he OK… not too much injured is he? Their response was, Ahmad – Haroon is no more…
I do not know how we got to his home… met his parents to whom he was the only offspring… offered Janaza prayers, buried him in the cemetery… it is all like a hazy dream… a dream from which you want to wake up thanking Allah that it was just a dream. No, not in this case. This was reality and we had to accept it from our creator. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Raje’oon… We are from Him and to Him we have to return. Sab’r was now the only thing we could ask and hope for from our Lord.
Jaatay hu’Ay kehtay ho qayamat ko milaeN gay…
kyaa Khoob, qayamat ka hai goya ko’ee din aur…
Haroon can you hear us crying and changing another of Ghalib’s couplet from the same ghazal to:
HaaN ai Falak-e peer, JawaaN thaa abhi Haroon
kyaa taera bigaRtaa jo na marta ko’ee din aur
ہاں اے فلک ِ پیر، جوان تھا ابھی ہارون
کیا تیرا بگڑتا جو نہ مرتا کوئی دن اور
And you will never die our friend… because for that to happen, we would have to stop loving you and that won’t happen… ever!
We love you and you continue to live!