Karachi Photo Blog

Monday, August 13, 2007




Goodbye, Nabila Rushdie

It is very hard to write obituaries of friends, and especially of friends who died your age. But I need to write this one. My friend Nabila Rushdie died of a heart attack in Karachi, a few days ago. She was a year senior to me at the NED University. There were so few girls at NED, they were all very popular among the male students. Nabila was especially so because besides being intelligent she was beauteous too. And a few students had also found out she was Salman Rushdie's sister; though this was nothing big in 1983 as Salman Rushdie at that time was not much known outside the literary circles.

After graduating from the NED University in Civil Engineering Nabila got her Masters from Stanford. But before going to Stanford she spent a brief time at UC Boulder. I met her in Boulder and we became very good friends. It was around that time that 'Satanic Verses' was published and Ayatollah Khomeini gave the infamous death fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Nabila feared for her life. She thought she might get killed by a zealot Iranian student on campus. She met with the President of the University and had her name officially changed to Zara Ahmed.

Getting to know her in Boulder and then later meeting her in California and then in Pakistan, I have a kaleidoscope of memories running through mind. My last information about her was that she was living in London. I had hoped to meet her there on a trip to or from Pakistan. I even had a mental image of an older Nabila I would see.

Being the youngest of her sisters and the only brother she must have been very close to her father. This I gathered the way she mourned his death many years after he was gone. Reading Satanic Verses I came across a part where the protagonist is visiting his terminally ill father; he lives there for a while and helps his father in everyday chores like shaving. The passage was too descriptive and detailed to be anything but biographical. That day when Nabila came back from her classes I asked her about the death of her father and if Salman was there with him in his final moments. She looked puzzled. I opened Satanic Verses at those pages and gave her the book to read. She read and started crying.

Why did Nabila Rushdie die so young, and in such utter loneliness? Was it because of her two failed marriages (the first one with Safwan Shah)? Did she die because there was no love for her to cling on to? Because the bitter memories of her past were far overwhelming than the best things life had offered her? Was she raised among people who had a fundamental flaw in their philosophy towards life? People who put too much emphasis on fame and fortune and forgot about the more fundamental things. People who never learned that when the reverberating applause finally dies, the limelight is turned off, and the curtains are drawn, the famous author, the beautiful actress, the billionaire, the popular leader, they all need to go home to their small circles of love with their dear ones firmly planted in. And if such a nest of warmth and affection is not there, no amount of wealth and fame can make up for the emptiness in their life.

I just searched Google. No links point to Nabila Rushdie’s existence…almost as if she left the world without a trace. But I won’t let you go like that, Nabila. You may rest in peace wherever you wish, but you would always stay alive on this blog.

24 Comments:

At Wed Aug 15, 12:02:00 PM PDT, Blogger Kazim Aizaz said...

Good post. But you didn't mention her age, did you?

 
At Thu Aug 16, 11:22:00 AM PDT, Blogger Cemendtaur said...

I believe she was born in 1962.

 
At Mon Aug 20, 03:57:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nabila, we were all looking for you. May be we did not look hard enough. May be we did not realize how much you needed us. Why and how we lost such a beloved friend so quickly.....all of our dreams to bring the girls of the class of 81 together suddenly came tumbling down yesterday.... Yes..it was only yesterday that I found out that our Nabila had left us. She is at peace now. She was so beautiful and cheerful, smart, with a golden heart. I saw our NED pictures last night,... all night. The girls picnic, the common room, the weddings, milad and so on. Last I met her just before leaving Pakistan at a friend's birthday party along with Safwan.
I am sorry Nabila that I was not there for you when you needed the most...I miss you....you had been through so much but stayed our princess....You were a precious gift of God...you finished your journey here... but you will stay in our hearts...
Goodbye my dear Friend
Tasnim

 
At Tue Aug 21, 10:52:00 AM PDT, Blogger Cemendtaur said...

Tasnim (Anonymous), Can you kindly write to me at CemendtaurAtYahoo? I need some information from you. Thanks. C.

 
At Tue Aug 21, 07:30:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Words cannot describe what i felt when i heard the news from my friend that Nabila had passed away. She was Nabila for many, but i called her Guljum (as did her father I believe). I am stunned. I have known her from my days at NED University.We were project group partners and good friends. She was so wonderful. How can she leave so soon? She was a wonderful friend to us all. I do still have one of her photographs.Full of smiles and life. Last i talked to her, she was leaving for Lahore. I was lazy to go and meet her and she said "Humayun, don;t you realize i am leaving tomorrow and you won't see me for a long time" Little did i know that i will not see her ever again. May she rest in peace, finally.
humayun iqbal

 
At Mon Aug 27, 02:59:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nabila, it is so difficult to believe that you are no more. So full of life ..... the way we all want to remember you. I wish we could have reached out earlier... I wish we would have known that you were so alone.
You were not just beautiful but also possessed a great sense of humour.... Good Bye...Nabila,
Naila

 
At Wed Aug 29, 08:50:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nabila's birth date was August 8th.

 
At Fri Sep 21, 01:03:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are very shocked and sad to hear this news as well. Nabila had a charming personality and was a breath of fresh air in the stale and geeky NED environment. Too bad she was taken away so quickly. May her sould rest in peace.

Shehla & Adil Khan, '84 Grads
Toronto, Canada

 
At Mon Sep 24, 07:58:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is quite a shock for me to hear about Nabila's death. I knew her from my days in NED and I did have an enormous crush on her for the longest time. As I suspect almost half the university did also. I recall her sunny and vibrant personality which I found so attractive. I wish I had known her better, may she rest in peace.

 
At Mon Oct 01, 08:52:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shehla, can you forward me your e-mail address? Naila-your Nespak colleague

 
At Mon Nov 12, 03:07:00 PM PST, Blogger Sohail said...

It was shocking to hear about Nabila, I knew her briefly ,however we became very good friends during the six months she was at the IBA. We kept in touch till 1991 after which I never met or spoke to her. May Allah rest her soul in peace.

Nabila A

 
At Fri Nov 23, 10:58:00 AM PST, Anonymous Shahid Zia said...

So sad to hear this new. Although a year junior to her in NED, I once met her when Cemendtaur and I hosted a dinner for her in a Iranian restauran in LA in 1991.May her soul rest in peace! Amen.

Shahid Zia

 
At Fri Dec 07, 10:42:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nabila was truly a beautiful person on so many levels. I am still reeling from the shock and overwhelming sadness as I read this blog. I still clearly remember the first time we met at UC Boulder as if it were yesterday. And Safwan(? my memory of his name fails me but her husband at that time ) was indeed a thorough gentleman..She had indeed been through a lot - and was still continuing to go through so much more..I really wish I had really listened to her and been there for her in her times of tribulation. Not because of her lack of trying but due to my own immaturity and stupidity, we lost touch. Years later, on awaking and realizing what a gem I had left behind, my efforts to locate her resulted in naught..And now this..When all she ever wanted was to give and receive the simplest but most precious gift of life - love..This is just so tragic on so many levels..Dearest Nabila, may your soul rest in peace. And with God, may you get all the love and affection you've always rightly deserved..I am so deeply sorry - please forgive this fool who misses you..

 
At Fri Jan 04, 11:09:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this poor soul was born at the wrong place and at the wrong time, and got associated with the wrong people, culturally happiness is a crime and misery a virtue in the old country, we don't teach our kids emotional intelligence and the art of survival in challenging situations, our poor girls take ownership of the males egotistical chauvenistic behaviour and blame themselves for failed relationships. In the west many women are choosing a happy, healthy and a vibrant single life, rather than to be stuck in abusive relationships, in fact single person house holds have surpassed two person households here, I had seen this beautiful person at NED and always admired her fun loving personality, she is not with us anymore but has managed to leave some beautiful memories on this earth, it is not when you go, rather how you go is important, if you leave happy memories behind, then you have had a beautiful life.
Shahab Swaleh,
Edmonton, Canada

 
At Thu Jan 10, 01:43:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spoke to her during her last days, she was very lonely and sad. There was no one near her, no friends or family which I found out to be very strange. How can they leave her like this? By the way she spelled her name as Nabeelah.

May she rest in peace.

 
At Wed Aug 26, 01:20:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Shangrila Murree said...

It is quite a shock for me to hear about Nabila's death. I knew her from my days in NED and I did have an enormous crush on her for the longest time.Allah rest her soul in peace.

 
At Thu Jul 15, 04:35:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Farnaz said...

It was a great shock for me to learn about Nabilah's death from Seema, her cousin at TRC. My oldest memories of her were from grade 1 at PECHS School where she reigned like a princess. We grew up together.She was born and lived in the same Defence house all her life. For a few years we lost contact during which time she married Sufwan. I dont think she ever got over that. she contacted me in her late 30s and came and stayed with me several times in Lahore. I remember her last call to me when she asked me if she could come and stay with me again. I was battling with my own demons at that time and explained my shattering domestic situation to her. She understood and told me she was going to buy an apartment soon and I would always be welcome to live with her. Next I heard was that she was found dead in that apartment. I often look back and wonder if we get too busy in our lives to hear when a lost soul reaches out to us in the hope of some human contact. Nabilah, with you has left a part of me that was the most beautiful part of my life. May you find the peace you never experienced in this world.

 
At Wed Mar 23, 04:22:00 AM PDT, Blogger maryum705 said...

just found out that nabila appa is dead after 3 years may allah bless her soul she use to cm to my home and she was a friend of my sis in the same group at NED . may she rest in peace....

 
At Tue May 21, 09:44:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Mohammed Mohsin said...

I'm surprised that Salman Rushdie's sister, Nabila, went to NED. It's sad to see this post now after 6 years.

Is there a picture of Nabila Rushdie?

 
At Wed May 29, 12:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger nafisa said...

Just found through this blog that she is no more with us. May ALLAH rest her soul in peace.
Nafisa

 
At Sat Nov 16, 07:02:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the who was photographer in those years? He may have photographs of Annual functions and election?

Yasmin

 
At Fri Nov 22, 09:04:00 AM PST, OpenID dearhasan said...

I am so very sorry to hear this sad news after all these years.

She was an undisputed epitome of iconic beauty and illustrious elegance, at those gray NED corridors.

A Barneys luxury item in a Kmart surroundings.

Life just seems a little unfair right now. Doesn't it?

God bless her soul.

Hasan Ahmed, 1984 (Civil) Grad. New York City.
Posted: December 1st, 2013

 
At Mon Oct 20, 06:46:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been trying to find some news about Nabila for years. She was an amazing friend.
God bless her soul.

 
At Mon Oct 20, 06:49:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nabeelah and I shared some amazing times together....cooking and doing home work.
May God bless her soul.

 

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