Lighten up - Coming to terms with prospect of demise

The Daily Star, Saturday, 14th February 2002.

Lighten up
Coming to terms with prospect of demise

There would seem to be a certain fascination with death, especially so when it touches the high and the mighty, the famous and the infamous, the ranks of celebrity, "the beautiful people" and even the illustrious obscure, that goes beyond the purely morbid. It has been said -- and only half in jest -- that many readers in western countries tend to skim over the sports, comics and obituary pages in a newspaper before moving to serious news and commentaries that are assuredly more exacting on the mind. The Economist, in the opinion of many the premier news weekly of the world, invariably devotes one page of every issue to an obituary.
Ahmed Shah Bokhari was versatile and catholic in his talents and achievements. He was successively and successfully an educationist (professor and Principal, Lahore Govt. College), impresario (the first Indian Director General of All India Radio), diplomat (Pakistan's first PR to the UN), and international civil servant (Under Secretary for Public Information at the UN). To many of his admirers and students, and they were legion, he was an "oracle of awesome resonance". Robert Frost wrote and addressed to him a couplet:

"From Iron
Tools and Weapons
To Ahmed S. Bokhari
Nature within her inmost self divides
To trouble men with having to take sides."
To Dag Hammarskjold he was a man of the highest culture. Tunisia, in a rare show of honour, named a street after him in Tunis for his forceful advocacy of Tunisian independence at the UN. When he died suddenly, the New York Times, in an extraordinary gesture, mourned his loss editorially as the passing of a "citizen of the world."