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Remembering Arfa Karim

By Muhammad Yasir Kayani

The great poetess Emily Dickinson once wrote:

“Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me,

The Carriage held but just ourselves, And Immortality”.

People come and go but the scintillating memories of their existence tell everything as to how they spend their earthly existence. Life and death are both intertwined. Our limited time is preordained by Allah Almighty. The fleeting sands of time stop for no one, the hourglass must be empty one day, and our time is solely measured by our actions and deeds. So simple people like us, try to spend a very easy and convenient life. A life, in which there is a little use of brain or mental faculties.

Owing to such state of life, the cognitive faculties of our generations have become so weak or rather dilapidated. But then, among those billions of people, a human being is born who challenges his limited mental faculty by saying his brain, “I want to go to that extent where common men’s brain don’t want or can’t go to, so, will you cooperate with me in its realization?” Resultantly, the brain that is grown up in limited thinking environs, remains unable to travel towards limitlessness and consequently, comes to cessation. Its cells remain unable to control and bear such mammoth and far-reaching thinking. And what was said by Shakeb Jalali establishes its worth “Hadood-e-waqt se agay nikal gya hai koi” (Someone has beaten the clock).The same happened with Arfa Karim Randhawa on January 14th, 2012, unfortunately, in this neck of the woods.

In 2004, Arfa, the computer prodigy , at the age of nine years, became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). To be an MCP, means to understand the secrets of universes and to conquer them. It is not a common degree like that of any medical sciences, engineering or an MBA which anyone can get. To achieve this prestigious position at the age of just nine was not less than a miracle. She was invited by Bill Gates, the co-founder of the Microsoft Company, to visit the Microsoft Headquarters in the USA. During her meeting with Bill Gates, Arfa said a historic sentence to him, “You are building a big wall of Microsoft whereas I am constructing a door into it.”

Arfa, the daughter of Pakistan, was challenging the genius of Bill Gates.  Arfa was presented the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz, on the occasion of 113th birth anniversary of Fatima Jinnah. She also received the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award again in August 2005 from the President of Pakistan.

Arfa was also the recipient of the President’s Award for Pride of Performance, a civil award usually granted to people who have shown excellence in their respective fields over a long period of time. She was the youngest recipient of this award. Arfa was made brand ambassador for Pakistan Telecommunication Company‘s 3G Wireless Broadband service named EVO in January. A science park in Lahore, the Arfa Software Technology Park, was named after her. Arfa represented Pakistan on various international forums, and was invited by the Pakistan Information Technology Professionals Forum for a stay of two weeks in Dubai. A dinner reception was hosted for her there, which was attended by the dignitaries of Dubai including the Ambassador of Pakistan. During that trip, Arfa was presented with various awards and gifts including a laptop. In November 2006, Arfa attended the Tech-Ed Developers conference themed Get ahead of the game held in Barcelona on an invitation from Microsoft. She was the only Pakistani among over 5000 developers in that conference.

Besides this all, Arfa used to feel a great sense of deprivation. She often discussed it in her conversations. And that deprivation was concerning, none other than her beloved country and its people. Whenever she saw the advanced developments in the developed countries, she longed for such developments to be happened in Pakistan. She didn’t have any desire except the desire of a developed and flourished Pakistan. She had dream of a Digicon Valley in Pakistan just like the Silicon Valley in India where everything will be free for the poor students. Now she is no more but her dreams are alive and yet to be fulfilled and accomplished. But how? Only we will bring her dreams to fruition. She must be our role model, she is our national hero, and she is the daughter of the nation. We will have to continue her sacred mission for which she was sent from heaven among us just to initiate it. We are descendant of this land and it does have its rights and demands. History summons us to stand firm for our people and to bring luster to our country and to the world. We will have to materialize the hope that Arfa has left upon us by firmly believing that a ray of hope can rend the heart of darkness.

Everybody has to go the way of all flesh sooner or later, however, it always pains the heart when the young are taken away from us in the prime of their youth, and it becomes even more painful to remember the young who were exceptional, unique, brilliant, and dynamic. Arfa Karim Randhawa was one such individual. She was just a grain of sand spread across the entire woof and warp of life. Arfa lived many lives at one and the same time. She was eager to burn the lamps of erudition and knowledge in this Land of the Pure. At such a young age, her body could not stand the flight of her mind. She had known too much of the realities of the world. She believed body to be a necessity while to let loose the reins of her mind in the boundless planes of heaven as her hobby. Her unfailing hard work for this country will never be forgotten and her multi-dimensional personality will sorely be missed.

The great Persian poet-philosopher Omar Khayyam wrote:

The moving finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit,

Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,

Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

These few lines summarize the essence of life itself. We are here to bring justice, truth and compassion in the hours and minutes pre-ordained by the Almighty. We can neither retrace our steps, nor stop time or reverse it, but simply use each and every passing minute in the search to better ourselves, to work for our people, to seek knowledge and truth just like Arfa Karim. May Light of Heaven Graciously Shine Forever Upon Her!

The writer is a PhD Scholar and lecturer-in-Law at PU Jhelum Campus and can be reached at yasirkayani@pujc.edu.pk.

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